June 6

Episode 2 IF THE WALLS COULD TALK – A Houston Police Scandal

J.T. Conley (left) & E.H. Bennett
My book, Dishonored and Forgotten, a fictional account of this scandal, will be released later this year.

The call came in on the night of August 11, 1953 from Vivian Timms.  She lived at 3306 Bacchus in Houston, Texas. Her home was about five miles north of the new Houston Police Department building at 61 Riesner Street.  Billed as the most modern police facility in the South, it had opened three years earlier.
Officers M. A. Billnitzer, J.T. Conley and E.H. Bennett, who worked in the Vice Squad, made the call.  Vivian told the officers she saw two men come into her backyard, dig a hole, and bury a garbage can.  Once they left, she dug it up and found that it contained two jars filled with a white powder. Vivian Timms was no stranger to narcotics.  Her sister was dating and probably whoring for a man known in Houston as the Kingfish of drug pushers.  His name was Earl Voice.  He would play a major role in the police scandal that unfolded.
61 Riesner Street
Billnitzer, Conley and Bennett, after interviewing Ms. Timms, took the narcotics to the police station where they inventoried it and opened some of the packets for testing.  Their field test indicated the substance was heroin.  They knew the street value of their discovery was many thousands of dollars.  The confiscation of such a large amount of dope was likely to have major implications in the drug culture on the streets.

As they inventoried the dope, Captain Foy ‘Junior’ Melton strolled into the room.  As reported in T. Lindsey Baker’s book Gangster Tour of Texas, J.T. Conley later recalled, “Melton came in and asked where we got the stuff.” 

The captain left for a few minutes, taking the dope with him, after informing the three officers he would secure the drugs.  He emphatically told them that only he and the three of them knew about the haul and said he wanted them to stay quiet about the discovery because otherwise it might blow an important investigation.  After thirty minutes, the Captain returned, telling Conley that he had put the stuff in the chief’s safe.

And that’s how the intrigue began!  It would last nearly a year, but that night, neither Conley, Bennett, nor Billnitzer could have imagined that in just a few months one of them would be dead, the police chief would resign, others would be accused of corruption and federal agents would be investigating.  So began the first narcotics scandal in the Houston police department.

In the next episode of IF THE WALLS COULD TALK – A Houston Police Scandal readers will be introduced to Earl Voice, the drug dealer and pimp who bought his own dope twice — from a cop. You’ll also meet William Pool, a cop who refused to ignore corruption in the H.P.D.

Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

Posted June 6, 2016 by Larry Watts in category "Cops", "Crimes and Criminals


  1. By Tom Rizzo on

    After reading this, I'm left wondering why in the world would two "strangers" bury the drugs in Wanda Timms' backyard. Why her? Sure, her sister dated the Kingfish of drug pushers. But such a move doesn't seem to make much sense.

  2. By Larry Watts on

    So, I don't have all the documents and when I do, they probably won't answer that question, but being a fiction writer, here is a speculative answer. Her sister's boyfriend buried the dope because he needed a place (not on his person) to keep it safely. May have feared being robbed by other dealers or caught by the police. It was a fairly large cache of heroin to be carrying around. He knew Timms and may have assumed it would be safe buried in the backyard of a woman living in a working class neighborhood. BIG MISTAKE! I suspect the answer is lost to history, but if I find anything that sheds more light, I will publish it. Thanks for the comment!

  3. By Breck Porter on

    Reading the works of Larry Watts takes me back to the 50's & 60's when everyone knew everyone else at #61 Riesner. Even before then on Franklin (I think). The officers he writes about were all like family. In the 40's thee were 4 HPD families living in the 1200 block of Dorothy St. It was a great time and Larry Watts brings back many of those memories.

  4. By Tom D. on

    In the '50's and '60's I hadn't even heard of heroin. Can't wait to read the book….Breck, many thanks for featuring these types of stories.


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