Clint Peoples was a real-deal lawman of the old school. The same school Frank Hamer matriculated from a few years before. A Texas Ranger and U.S. Marshal, Peoples knew his duty and he did it. In true Texas Ranger style, when he got on a trail, he stayed on it — even if it took 23 years and led to a President of the United States.
It’s a helluva note when you’ve got a narcissistic sociopath for a president, a man for whom EVERYTHING is a transaction; whose associates are corrupt money-grubbers, mobsters and fellow sociopaths; a man who treats women as mere objects for sexual gratification and brags about it.
Yep, ol’ Lyndon Baines Johnson was a no-good SOB.
OK, back up a few years, to when LBJ was Vice President of the United States and hated his boss’ guts.
One of Johnson’s scumbg associates was a feller with the fine southern name of Billie Sol Estes. And Estes was running into trouble with an honest man. Let the Dallas Morning News pick up the sordid tale:
Henry Marshall… was a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector in Texas. As 1960 came to a close, he began investigating a scheme by Estes to acquire lucrative cotton-planting allotments from 116 Texas farmers.
In January 1961, Marshall met with Estes company lawyers and threatened them with prosecution if they proceeded with the questionable enterprise. According to newspaper reports at the time, Estes and his associates approached advisers to LBJ and complained that Marshall was interfering in their business.
To remove Marshall from the scene, Agriculture Department officials offered him a promotion to Washington. He considered it a bribe offer and turned it down.
Marshall was found dead on his Robertson County farm on June 3, 1961. He’d been shot five times with his own bolt-action .22 rifle, which was found next to him. A head injury showed blunt-force trauma. Incredibly, a justice of the peace ruled the death a suicide, and the county sheriff agreed.
It was, by any reasonable standard, a botched investigation. Marshall’s relatives and colleagues didn’t buy the finding of suicide and pressed for a real investigation.
Clint Peoples, Texas Ranger, drew the case. He would stay on it for 23 years.
“He never thought it was a suicide, and it troubled him for years,” said Sam McClendon, Peoples’ son-in-law.
Peoples eventually befriended Estes after the swindler went to prison for fraud in the 1970s. Peoples convinced Estes to testify before a Robertson County grand jury, which reopened the Marshall murder case in 1984. The Dallas Morning News reported that Estes, in his grand jury testimony, implicated Johnson in Marshall’s death.
According to The News’s story, Estes testified that LBJ was concerned that Marshall had information implicating Johnson in the illegal acquisition of cotton allotments. Estes told the grand jury that Johnson ordered Malcolm E. “Mac” Wallace, a Johnson family friend, to kill Marshall and make it look like a suicide.
Johnson had been dead for more than 10 years at the time of Estes’ grand jury appearance. Former aides to LBJ denounced Estes as a pathological liar and unrepentant schemer. They accused him of concocting his story to boost sales of a book that Estes’ daughter had written about her father’s exploits.
A year later, in 1985, a state district judge in Austin heard two days of testimony on the case and ordered the Texas Department of Health to change the official cause of Marshall’s death from suicide to homicide.
After the hearing, Peoples said he was satisfied with the ruling — even though no one was ever charged with the murder. One day, the Ranger added, the truth would come out.
“It’s going to have to be some changing of the guard in some places,” he said cryptically. “You have to read between the lines.”
Some folks think Mac Wallace was Johnson’s regular button man, and that he was in on whacking JFK for his boss. I ain’t wading into the Big Muddy on that one — not yet at least.
Peoples was involved in a whole bunch of badassery in a Texas that was still wild and woolly. He even shut down the Chicken Ranch outside La Grange. You know what I’m talkin’ about…
They got a lot of nice girls there. Hawhawhawhaw.*
Dallas Morning News:
(Peoples) helped root out illegal gambling rings in Galveston and worked on political corruption cases involving George Parr, the “Duke of Duval County” who helped LBJ become a U.S. senator in 1948 by stuffing Box 13 in Jim Wells County with Johnson votes.
Toward the end of his career, Peoples became a prodigious fundraiser for the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco and helped guide its opening in 1968.
He retired from the Rangers in 1973 and immediately accepted an appointment from President Richard Nixon as U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Texas, a post that he held until he retired in 1989.
Peoples died in 1992. A few years back there was an auction featuring some fancy pistols he was given through his career. Texas Rangers call those fancy guns “barbecue guns” — for wearing at ceremonial events and parties and such.
* Went to a ZZ Top show at the L.A. forum in 1984. The Eliminator Tour, when ZZ Top was the hottest thing in the biz. Bad and nationwide, you might say. Imagine a 10,000-woman lingerie convention. Lord take me downtown…Hawhawhawhaw!