Sunday, February 27, 2011

John Hill

 As a child, John Hill's favorite story was "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl And Mr. Hyde." As it turns out, that shouldnt be much of a stretch to believe. John was born in Edcouch, Texas sometime in 1931. Growing up poor and with devout-bordering on fanatical parents, John and his younger brother Julian would escape into the world of classsical music.
Both sons went into medicine. Julian studying psychiatry, and John taking up general surgery.

Joan Olive Robinson was adopted in early 1931 by Rhea and Ash Robinson. There would always be rumors swirling that Ash actually was her paternal father. Joan was raised in the affluent neighborhoods of Houston and at an early age developed an avid interest in horses.
While at a party in 1957, Joan met John through mutual friends. Joan was attracted to his quiet, manly nature. John must have been attracted to the blonde beauty who was the darling of cafe society in Houston.
In September 1957 Joan and John were married and quickly moved into Joans parents house. They lived there for 6 years while John finished medical school.
In 1960 the one and only child was born. Robert Ashton Hill. Ash immediately nick-named him "Boot."
With Joans outgoing life and numerous horse shows, she was always on the go. She attained nation-wide acclaim in the "Mink & Manure" party set of Houston. To John it was a life he wanted no part of, other than the rich clientel it brought to him as a prominent plastic surgeon.
John spent more and more time either at his offices or performing locally with the all-medical band "The Heartbeeps", or as a soloist.

In 1965 John found a home he thought would be perfect for him and Joan. It was a Colonial style mansion, set at an odd angle at 1561 Kirby Drive. Ash provided the down payment. John eventually built an add-on which seems to be one of the most talked about things of this story: The music room.
John had dreamed form the begining of having a space where he could entertain and share his love of music. Eventually the room took on an air of Versailles. It was/is two storys high, 40 by 80 feet. The color scheme  was gold and white. There were marbel fireplaces, a sitting room off the mail hall. For the music? John installed 108 speakers requiring 4 miles of wireing! He also acquired a lavish Bosendorfer piano.
Around this time, tragedy struck the family. Julian Hill died of an apparent suicide. Most assumed it was due to his (presumed) shame at being homosexual, some think it was due to the end of a relationship. Some theorize John had a hand in it.
Since John was busy with either his career or music, Joan started getting restless, so Ash bought her a horse farm which was eventually christened "Chatsworth", which was the family name of Mother Rhea's family estate in Louisiana. Joan hoped to make a name for herself, business wise, by turning Chatsworth into a breeding stable and riding school.
Sometime in 1968, John met Ann Kurth. Ann was a 39 year old three time divorcee with 3 sons. Ann was the daughter of a prominent architect and was no stranger to the social whirl of Houston. She had attened Stephens College at the same time as Joan.
John did very little to hide his indescretions and eventually rented an aprtment to have his trysts with Ann. Ash hired detectives to follow John. In November of '68 John officially filed for divorce. In December Joan counter filed and Ash esentially blackmailed John to dump Ann and stick with Joan. He made him sign a lengthy document stating that he will support Joan and give her the house. John supposedly said that by Ash forceing his hand, he was essentuially signing Joan's death certificate.
John did stop the divorce proceedings and moved back to Kirby Drive. He also kept Ann and his apartment.
When John moved out of the apartment there was quite a scene where Ann freeaked out on him and Ash's private detective who accomapanied John.

From mid-December through early March, 1969, John tried to juggle two women and his medical career. John would tell Joan and "Boot" he was doing rounds, when in reality he was usually with Ann and /or her boys.
The weekend of March 7th saw the Hill's having houseguests. Two women friends of Joan's. One of the women, Diane Settegast, was negotiating with Ash for a position at Chatsworth.
On Sunday, March 9th, John made a big deal out of serving French pastries to Joan and her friends. He insisted on giving each woman a specific dessert. He repeated this strange move on the following Tuesday and Thursday.
On Friday, the couple atteneded a party. The festivities ended in a bitter argument as John had to leave early to check on his patients. Supposedly.
  Joan slept in the next day, which was unusual for her. She found out from "Boot" that John still had his apartment. That night there was a very uncomfortable scene in front of the guests as Joan passed out notes stating her intentions to pursue her divorce as soon as Ash was back in town.
The next day, Sunday, Joan complained that she had the flu and had been throwing up. John gave her an injection. Maybe more than one - its never been clear. In court later he stated that it was Compazine, a drug used to control vomiting. It also is used in the treatment of schizophrenia. On Monday, the 17th, the guests finally departed but still concerned about Joan's failing health. Both of the Hill's informed them that everything would be fine.
Before John left for the office, he instructed their maid Effie not to disturb Joan, and that she was to have no guests. Effie did eventually check on her and found her looking even worse than before.
On Tuesday John instructed Effie to clean up "the mess" in Joans bed. He also informed her that he had a tuba solo at a local school that day. Effie found Joan in bed sleeping on top of towels that were covering bowel movements and what she thought was blood. The feces were dried, as if they had been there for awhile. Joan said she was burning up and Effie helped her to the bathroom. Halfway over there was another bowel movement that was tinged green. Joan appeared to be turning blue. Joan prayed with Effie as her husband Archie made calls trying to locate John.
Before Noon, John eventually showed up. Rhea Robinson was there as well. John said he was taking her to the hospital. What happened next has been examined & re-examined and been speculated on for years. Apparently John didnt want to wait for an ambulance to arrive so he decided to very slowly get her there himself. He made her walk to the car, stating it would be good for her to walk, even though Joan told her mother she couldnt see. He drove very slowly to Sharpstown Hospital, which was farther away from the Texas Medical Center. Also John was an investor in Sharpstown. John claimed he wanted to be close to Joan since he had a case at Sharpstown. Sharpstown didnt have very much in the way of emergency services back then.
Joan was put under the care of a doctor named Morse who had never seen her professionally, but John claimed Joan had spoken highly of him once.
Joan was concious, but seemed to be suffering from shock and her blood pressure was incredibly low.
While John took care of his plastic surgery case, Joans kidneys failed. A specialist was called in and couldnt reach John (who was in his music room) to receive permission to start dialysis. Two hours later, around midnight, John showed up at the hospital and ended up taking a nap.
At 2:30 a.m. Joan Robinson Hill suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 38.

Since Joan died less than 24 hours after being admitted, Texas law demanded that an autopsy be performed. John had her taken to a funeral home and embalmed right after she passed.
Dr. Morse (Sharpstown Hospital pathologist) soon declared that Joan had died from "acute fulminating pancreatitis."
Ash Robinson immediatly started making waves. Even before she was to be buried, Ash was in the offices of the district attorney demanding an investigation was warranted. he already had obtained statements from the 2 ladies who had stayed with the Hill's just prior to Joans illness, and from the housekeeper and her husband.
Joan was laid to rest on March 21st, 1969.  The district Attorneys office, learning about the autopsy snafu, sent the county medical examiner to the funeral with orders to stop it if needed. Dr Jachimczyk didnt see the need. Joan was buried early afternoon on the 21st.
Dr. Jachimczyk learned the urine and blood samples were still available at the hospital. Dr. Morse provided several tissue samples, but not much else.
Dr. Jachimczyk decalred that Joan died of an unknown virus, most likely "virus hepatitis."

On June 6th, 1969 John and Ann were married. The events that transpired during the brief marriage have been debated. Also that month Ash convinced the DA to convene an official investigation into Joan's death.  John agreed to a "Q&A" session using Sodium Pentothal, but not a polygraph examination. Ann later claimed John had taken something the day of the test for "a bug' that made it possible that later that evening, he was able to recite every question and answer. the doctor who administerd the SP said it was impossible to take an "antidote" to the drug.
The grand jury did not indict John, as Ash had hoped.
Ash next came up with quite a grand plan. He would
Helpern Autopsy

February, 1970 Third Grand Jury

March, 1970 Ann divorces John

April, 1970 Autopsy reports

March, 1971 trial (Ann on stand)

August, 1972 Bobbie VanDiver hears about a $5,000 job.

September 24, 1972 John dies

May, 1974 Bobbie VD dies

Fall, 1974 Marcia Mckittrick is found guilty

February, 1975 Lilla Paulus trial

1976 "Prescription: Murder" is published

1977 "Blood and Money" is published

1977 Connie & Robert file suit against Ash

May 1981 TV movie premieres

February 1985 Ash dies

1987 Rhea dies

Robert is a lawyer(?) in the East

Connie still lives in Houston

Ann may either be in seclusion or dead

This summary was compiled from 4 different books:
1) Prescription: Murder (Ann Kurth)
2) Blood And Money (Thomas Thompson)
3) Autopsy (Milton Helpbern)
4) Murder (Kirk Wilson)
Also a bit of on-line research helped.