Odessa in 1961 started out as an unremarkable year, but as spring began to emerge, it became the site of a bizarre killing that drew wide attention. Stories of ghostly happenings are still connected to the case to this day. It was dubbed the Kiss and Kill murder by the newspapers when the life of Betty Williams was ended by an ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately, this is not a new story, but the twist which turned heads was the belief the victim had asked to be murdered.
Betty Williams was a young woman who was conflicted in many ways. One of those avenues of concern tied to Mack Herring, whom she dated until he broke up with her. Generally unhappy with her life circumstances, she began to ask classmates to kill her. Most considered these requests to be made in jest and ignored them. When she turned to Mack, however, he agreed to commit the act. Betty Williams died outside of Odessa on March 20, 1961, after one last kiss, then a shot to the head. Weights were then attached to her body, and she was thrown into the nearby water tank.
Photo: @shanti via Twenty20
Mack Herring was tried for murder; using a defense of temporary insanity. He was first tried to determine if during the act he had been sane. After a legal challenge, the Texas Supreme Court stated the presiding judge lacked the authority to determine his state, and a second trial for murder led to an acquittal. It’s claimed that Herring lost no social status, and instead, the victim Betty Williams was blamed for “leading him astray.”
To this day, students at Betty and Mack’s alma mater report ghost sightings and paranormal phenomena centering on the slain woman. At first, kids would make trips to sit outside the darkened school auditorium and saw her face in the window. The school eventually painted the window, then covered it with bricks. Students say she is still there, making her presence known by mysterious footsteps, moving objects, and flickering lights. Read more about the Kiss and Kill case in the 2004 book called Washed in the Blood, written by a cousin of Betty Williams.