January 20


Theresa Brown
San Antonio is a great city. There’s the River Walk, the Alamo, and the legends of political careers great and small. At one time there was also Theresa Brown, the bordello operator who kept a list of the client’s her girls serviced, what their sexual interests were, and a set of work rules for the girls who worked in her “shop.”

In an interview with the San Antonio Express News, Theresa once said she was a native of San Antonio, having been born there in 1934. She was the mother of two and worked as a bookkeeper and clerk. As to why she changed careers and became a madam, she said, “I was getting $50 a month for both kids and we were living in a project. I decided to better myself in the grand tradition of free enterprise.”

Her whorehouse was known as a high-class operation, as might be defined by bordello standards. The prices she set for her girls reflected this reputation of a top-notch house. She had printed and posted rules for those who worked for her. The girls couldn’t wear religious symbols or wedding rings while on the job. When not with a client, they had to keep the house clean, couldn’t use drugs and were required to wear shoes when meeting customers.

Jerry Clancy
Jerry Clancy was a cop in San Antonio who investigated Theresa Brown’s operation. The eventual result was that Theresa was charged with promotion of prostitution and her’s became one of the most publicized prostitution stories in Texas history. The FBI joined the investigation because of persistent rumors that high-ranking members of the San Antonio Police Department, judges, politicians, and national sports figures were all clients of Ms. Brown’s Bordello.

Surveillance was set up and photos taken. A multitude of clients were captured on film leaving her establishment. In one case, the FBI, Clancy and other officers interviewed one of those clients, who denied that he had ever been to the whorehouse or even knew that it existed. The officers showed him a photo. It depicted him walking out of the whorehouse zipping his pants. Clancy says that, after seeing the photo, the client suddenly recalled that maybe he had heard of the place.

The Madam
Theresa and two prostitutes who worked for her were arrested. She was charged with promoting prostitution and her girls with the much less serious charge of engaging in prostitution. Knowing they would be required to testify against Madam Theresa, both prostitutes quickly disappeared.

But the story had taken on a life of its own. The rumor of the list of clients was officially out! The news media was on the trail. Were there really names of high-ranking cops who partook of Miss Theresa’s charms and other pleasures? With the media circus in full swing, the Vice Squad had to find the missing whores.

Clancy says they were receiving up to 40 calls a day. Some from men worried their names might be on “the list.” Other calls came from wives wanting the same information about their husbands. According to Clancy, one woman began the conversation with, “Please tell me that my husband’s name is on the list.”

Thinking it a little strange that a wife would want to learn that her husband’s name was noted on list of clients, he asked why.

“Because, I accused him of it this morning and he said that if his name was on any such list he would buy me a new fur coat,” the caller responded. Unfortunately for her, no names were released.

Billy Samuels
Clancy and a partner traced the two prostitutes to North Texas. They turned to Fort Worth’s Vice Squad for help. There they were introduced to a Vice cop by the name of Billy Samuels. Jerry explained who they were looking for. Within hours Samuels had located the two women in the Burleson, Texas area. Both were taken back to San Antonio where they testified before the Grand Jury. Theresa Brown was convicted and received a five year probated sentence.

“There was never a list,” says Clancy, “but a file of 3 X 5 cards with client information on each.” 

It was reported that the cards were destroyed, but rumors persisted that Theresa had a duplicate set. It was too juicy for the news media to drop. Reporters dug for information on the list. Stories continued to be published. Legal action ensued to prevent the media from publishing the names. But finally the furor was over. 

Theresa Brown later ran for San Antonio City Council, challenging a council member who was rumored to have been one of her clients. When she died in 2012, news of her death was reported in newspapers around the world, in most cases with a story about the famed but never found “list.” 

Jerry Clancy and Billy Samuels became life-long friends, exchanging information on crimes between San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas for years after the “whorehouse caper.” 

Jerry said in an interview that, “Billy was a good vice cop. He showed me some of his methods for working the streets of Fort Worth to get the whores off the street. Some of his tactics were a little unconventional, but he was effective and enjoyed his work.”

I asked Jerry to tell me about the unconventional tactics. He just smiled and said, “Old cops don’t tell secrets. Who knows, they may still be using those same tricks.”

Theresa Brown died, Clancy and Samuels both had notable careers in their departments, and the oldest profession continues to thrive in San Antonio, Fort Worth and across the world.

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Posted January 20, 2014 by Larry Watts in category "Other