Sheriff James “Humpy” Parker terrorized and abducted victims on US 59

Humpy Parker
Humpy Parker
Photo by Jason Fochtman

Sheriff James Humpy Parker terrorized and abducted victims on US 59 for 25 years before he was finally stopped and arrested.

San Jacinto County’s Sheriff James “Humpy” Parker, in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s, became the focus of an investigation surrounding the arrests of motorists.

According to news reports and later court testimony, San Jacinto County sheriff’s officers were making arrests of “’long-haired’” men and the occupants of their vehicles, ”  according to the Rock Dale Reporter,

Just like something out of a movie or more than likely used by movie screenwriters since the story came out, the Sheriff and his deputies would stop vehicles for some small traffic violation and search the vehicles and if nothing was found, “plant” drugs or drug paraphernalia.  Then the officers confiscated cash and other valuables and more often than not released the arrested parties, but in some cases they did not.

A book called Terror on Highway 59, written by Reverend Steve Sellers tells about Parker and his deputies and reads:  “They had this weird suspect profile that they used to decide who to stop,” Sellers said.  “Long-haul truckers and local folks weren’t often bothered. Some minorities, people with bumper stickers from certain Houston rock radio stations, men with long hair were often stopped for little or no reason. A particular target for the errant lawmen were young men driving motorcycles.”

Click on photo on the left to get the book

Victims told Sellers,  and later the courts  of being taken to the sheriff’s office in Coldspring and tied to a chair. A towel would be wrapped around their face. Then water would be poured over the towel.  This type of torture is referred to as waterboarding, now.   As the victim struggled for air they were questioned until they confessed to whatever the deputies wanted them to say.

Humpy Parker
Humpy Parker

Others said they were blindfolded and put in a boat on Lake Livingston. The deputies would tell them that if they didn’t confess they’d be tossed into the water “just like all the others that nobody will ever find again,” Sellers said.

“Most baffling were a series of a half-dozen unexplained deaths of young men in the county,” Sellers said.

The bodies would show up on some out-of-the-way farm road somewhere in the county late at night where an unsuspecting motorist would run over them.

“The men all appeared to have been dead before they came to be on the highway,” Sellers said, and “none of those deaths were ever explained and no one was ever charged.”

Parker claimed during the investigation they were drug-related deaths.  Parker and his troop were never charged for any of those deaths.

And, you can’t help but wonder if maybe some of the men did end up in the water and drowned and will be forever a missing person.  Which might account for missing people in that area during that period of time, like David Waggoner.

It is believed that David Waggoner may have been one of Parker’s victims, click here to read more.

After the stories began to come out and the investigation started, Parker tried to plead guilty to federal civil rights violations of the people he abducted in exchange for three years in prison. A Houston federal judge refused to accept his plea, saying it was much too lenient. A jury later gave Parker a 10-year sentence, and he pleaded guilty to another charge and got a five-year sentence.  He served about five years in prison and returned home with brain cancer. He has since died, as have most of his deputies.”

His deputies, John Glover, 65, was given two years, plus three years suspended and Carl Lee, 63, was given seven years but served four. The American Civil Liberties Union also won a judgment against San Jacinto County for three Kentucky residents and a Baytown man.

The “Old Jail” in Coldspring is where Parker took most of the men that he tortured and is believed to be haunted reports Your Houston News.  Every Halloween for the last several years the jail is used as a fundraiser for the San Jacinto County Historical Commission and tours are provided.  It seems to me to be in bad taste to escort small groups of visitors through the halls where the recorded sounds of echoing screams in the background can be heard at the same prison where a Sheriff and his deputies once tortured other men.

As a side note, proving that sometimes the leaf doesn’t fall far from the tree:  Parker’s son, Gary Cecil Parker, 49, was indicted by a San Jacinto County Grand Jury June 27, 2007 on six charges ranging from aggravated robbery to kidnapping.  According to the East Texas News. Parker threatened Mary Hoot Cleveland, 65 while he was committing a robbery.  He“terrorized Cleveland by abducting her and holding her in a place where she was not likely to be found.”  On Dec, 21, 2007, Parker was also indicted on four charges for entering the home of Myrtle L. Simmons, 65, and during the robbery abducted Simmons and Lula Mae Hoot with a knife.

 

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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