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O.D. Stevens


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#1 Northsider

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:24 AM

I hear the name O.D. Stevens come up every so often. Does anybody have any information on what he is famous for?

#2 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:25 AM

Originally posted by Shaw (unregistered user) under the "Mr. Al Hayne" topic:

1930's robbery of the main post office, accomplices were killed and thrown off E 1st St bridge. Stevens owned house on Morrison can be seen from I30. The house was reportedto have secret passages etc. Stevens built a couple of the buildings in historic Handley. He was sent to the Federal Pen for the robbery.

#3 pdphillips

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:25 AM

The old Stevens house is made of sandstone and is on the SW corner of Morrison & I-30. I believe it is now a day care. Was a restaurant in the 80s for a brief period. In the late 60s and early 70s, this house was rented to various families, and I had a chance to view the interior at that time. There were remaining secret passages in the house, although most had been closed up. Even in the 60s, when I was growing up, there were stories of tens of thousands of dollars hidden somewhere on site. Money that was never recovered from the robbery. Every kid in Handley dreamed of finding that money, and many of us have been yelled at and chased off the property while snooping. When the restaurant was built in the 80s, they uncovered buried drug containers while excavating for a parking lot. I forget what drug they found, but the drugs had long since deteriorated, and appears to be where the missing money had been "invested". Mystery solved? One of the buildings and businesses Stevens owned was the sandstone building on the NW corner of E. Lancaster & Handley Dr. When he owned it, it was a pharmacy (thus the buried drugs?), and has recently been restored as a privately owned video rental store. The reason I know this stuff is because one of the men Stevens killed after the robbery was the husband of my great aunt.

#4 kklein fw

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:25 AM

Is J.T. Stevens (who has an elementary school named after him) related to O.D.?

#5 Jonathan Hudson

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:26 AM

I first heard of this house when I was in the Police Academy in Arlington back in 1979. The man who told me about it was Roland Howerton, former Chief of Police for the city of Fort Worth. He told me the story of the house. His brother, H.H. Howerton, worked on the murder case.

The old place fascinated me to no end. When I was doing my graduate work, I finally had a chance (courtesy of a Technical Writing class) to explore both the story and the old house.

O.D. Stevens and four other criminals robbed the Union Pacific Train of over $70,000.00 back in 1931 or 1932. Stevens departed for New York to "launder" the money, but upon his return, he failed to split the money with three of the robbers, who were from out around Abilene. They came to Dallas and the men then drove over to Handley on a Saturday to see Stevens about what was owed them. They were never seen alive again. The exact location of the murder is uncertain, but it is believed to have been committed in a small room in the basement that is concealed under the stairway. Their bodies were dumped off of the East 1st Street Bridge and their belongings off of yet another bridge into the Trinity. Their belongings were found the following Sunday evening by a seven year old named E.M. Bilger, who now lives near Glen Rose. During my research, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Bilger. He is a very fine old gentleman with excellent recall of the entire story.

in the course of writing paper on this subject, I had the opportunity to visit the site where the bodies were dumped, the old White Rose Dairy (still standing, but no longer in operation, where witnesses reported hearing vehicles stopping late one night and hearing objects hitting the water below), and the site where the belongings were found. I also found a story from the Star-Telegram written during the investigation, where Detective H.H. Howerton located and searched a second "mystery house" located off of Rosedale, which was outfitted with secret passages much like the Stevens House. I tried, but was unsuccessful, in locating the other house.

After the bodies were discovered, Stevens was arrested and the house was searched. There were several passageways discovered, including a tunnel that led from the basement south to an undisclosed location...obviously an escape route. The tunnel was filled in by the city of Fort Worth in the early 80's. The room under the stairway still exists; it wa so cleverly concealed that the police missed it during the initial search. I have been inside it. The walls of the original house are solid concrete, several feet thick. The attic has windows facing north, south, east, and west...and when I crawled up into it, I thought, "what an excellent place to defend a house from." It seems plausible to me that the builder had this in mind.

The house is now a daycare center. A wing has been added onto the original house, using the same native limestone and sandstone. The old water tower has been removed because it was in danger of falling. The base of the structure was still standing the last time I was there, about a year ago.

Stevens was convicted of the murders and the train robbery. Because he was a flight risk, he was originally sent to Alcatraz Island. I attempted to find his prison records for the time that he spent on "The Rock," but was unable to find anything with his name on it. I then learned of another man who had been there at the same time. His name was Morton Sobell. Mr. Sobell was tried and convicted for espionage along with ulius and Ethel Rosenberg, and was sentenced to Alcatraz. Sobell lives in San Francisco. I located his address and sent him a letter. To my surprise, he replied with Steven's prison number. He shared with me that Stevens had been transferred th Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after Alcatraz was closed.

As of about four years ago, Steven's son was living somewhere in Arkansas. It is my understanding that he refuses to talk about the incident, other than to say that his father was not the criminal that everyone thought that he was.

My research indicated that Stevens may have burglarized drug companies and sold the drugs illegally. I am not sure how accurate it is, though.

Interestingly enough, the Internal Revenue Service still sends correspondence to "O.D. Stevens, 1408 Morrison Road, Fort Worth, Texas."

Jonathan Hutson
Brazos, Texas
jhutson@tarleton.edu

#6 gdvanc

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:26 AM

Wow, thanks Jonathan! Fascinating information.

#7 seurto

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:27 AM

Thank you so much for the info on that house. I have been absolutely facinated by it ever since I ate at the Texas Connection when it was there years ago. We saw some of the closets with ladders to the windows and heard that the staircase concealed a hidden room, but they weren't showing that part off then. As I remember the story also, the cistern was either a false one or had a chamber in it to use as a look out. The other urban legends I have heard say the workers who built it (especially the secret passages) were never seen again, and that supposedly there was money hidden in the walls. The people who made it into the Texas Connection said they never found any $$ when they were renovating.

#8 katherine

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:27 AM

I don't know much about Stevens, but I have heard from my late father (b. 1900; d. 1962), the tale of the three dead men in the river.

Papa had been a FW fireman at the old Oakland and Meadowbrook station when the three men were found in the Trinity River off the E. First St. bridge. He said he was there when they pulled the men out.

Of course, I found it all dreadfully fascinating, his relating the tale. Saying that the men had bags of cement tied to them to keep them submerged. (But w/o being exposed to air, the concrete never set, resulting in the bodies and the wet bags coming to the surface. Another example of stupid criminality.)

Only w/in this month did I find out that my Mother, now 94, was there, as well, watching the men being hauled up from the river. If she remembers correctly, she stood at the northeast end of the bridge and they were laid right in front of her.

But here's a detail I never knew:

The three deceased were bundled together, she said, a package of three--laid out together and rolled up --burrito style--in hog wire.

They arose (!) from the river heads up, w/ the cement bags attached to the wire. Firemen hauled the whole package up the river bank and laid them at the feet of my mother (who never could even wring a chicken's neck.)

Kay Northcut Sallee

postscript:

Like a cocky kid, I disobeyed my father once-- and came home through the bottoms on East First. The wind was in the waving post oaks, throwing ghoulish shadows through the windshield. At any moment the deranged killer w/ the hooked hand would crash through the window and grab my neck !

By the time I got to the bridge, I was sobbing and praying, driving like billy-be-damned clear to safety at the top of the hill that squatted at the end of Oakland Blvd.

O.D. Stevens?

He was the bogeyman.

#9 UTAMav91

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:28 AM

As a kid, I seem to remember there being a road across the dam, I always loved going across it and seeing the huge drain/spillway and all the water rushing toward it. The view of the lake from the #13 tee box at the golf course at the top of the dam with the green 50 feet below is spectacular. How is the fishing on Lake Arlington these days? Any place you can fish without a boat?

#10 Call Me Arch Stanton

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Posted 13 June 2004 - 10:28 AM

I have yet to fish Lake Arlington myself, but have talked to enough people who have in the past. They have a pretty solid hybrid-striped bass fishery there, and those guys are fun to fish for. Bass fishing is average and catfishing is pretty good. I don't know enough about it to tell you good access for bank fishing, but go to www.texasfishinginfo.com and ask around, someone will be able to tell you. Hope that helps!

#11 AndyN

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:08 PM

Of course, I found it all dreadfully fascinating, his relating the tale. Saying that the men had bags of cement tied to them to keep them submerged. (But w/o being exposed to air, the concrete never set, resulting in the bodies and the wet bags coming to the surface. Another example of stupid criminality.)

Kay Northcut Sallee

 


Sorry, but the know-it-all in me can't help but post that concrete does not dry. It cures. Concrete will cure underwater. They will often water concrete while it is curing to keep it from drying out too fast.
Www.fortwortharchitecture.com




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