St Francis Convent
On Halloween night, 1981, Catholic nun Tadea Benz, 76, was brutally raped, strangled and murdered, here, at the Sisters of St Francis Convent. Johnny Frank Garrett, a neighbor who had worked at the convent from time to time, became the suspect after a psychic, known as Bubbles, who's husband worked at the DA's office, had a vision that he was the killer. He was arrested on November 9th, 1981 and the jury, despite evidence that could have cleared his name, passed a judgement and sentenced Johnny to death. He was executed on February 11,1992 by lethal injection. Up until his death, Johnny kept claiming his innocence. He swore he didn't commit this heinous crime. After his death, they found a letter in his cell, once again proclaiming his innocence. However, in the letter was a curse. He cursed society. He cursed the people working on his case that sentenced him to death. He cursed their families and their friends. Within a few months of Garrett’s conviction, his curse seemed to kick-in. The first victim was the coroner who was convicted of falsifying documents. While incarcerated, his wife died of Pancreatic cancer. That year Garrett’s attorney also died of Pancreatic cancer. The NBC reporter that chased Garrett’s mother into the court house bathroom died in a plane crash. The judge and another lawyer were diagnosed with the same rare type of Leukemia. Two officers that were part of the task force also were diagnosed with Leukemia. One of the Jurors fell down a flight of stairs and died a few days later of complications. Another Juror’s daughter died form an accidental gunshot wound to the head. His sister was run over and killed by a drunk driver.
All the deaths of people within a few years with ties to the trail include:
Garrett’s trial lawyer died of pancreatic cancer.
Garrett’s first appellate lawyer and post-conviction trial Judge contracted the same form of leukemia. The judge died after initially being cured. His healthy bone marrow (collected in case of recurrence) inexplicably disappeared from the hospital.
A Sherriff on the case contracted leukemia and died.
An Officer on the case also died of leukemia.
NBC Reporter Cathy Jones died in an airplane crash in Oklahoma while covering a story.
The medical examiner was convicted of numerous felonies for falsifying autopsy reports. His medical license was revoked and he was sent to prison. His wife died of pancreatic cancer.
One man connected to the case was found dead in his vehicle. A cause of death was never determined.
A jailhouse snitch who testified against Garrett for a reduced sentence, committed suicide.
Garrett’s school teacher who testified against him at trial, also committed suicide.
The District Attorney on the case committed suicide. His daughter hung herself a few years later.
One of Garrett’s many appellate attorneys lost his wife when she committed suicide. His son was accidentally locked inside a hot car in Houston and is permanently brain damaged.
A woman who was connected to the case contracted cancer twice and finally succumbed to esophageal cancer.
12 years later, they did a DNA test with DNA found at the crime scene of a similar murder of Narnie Box Bryson. Narny and Taeda were part of a string of 10 elderly women who had been beaten and raped since the arrival of Cuban refugees, who were being helped by Catholics in the Amarillo. The DNA was said to match Leoncio Rueda. Rueda confessed to the murder of Narnie Bryson and a nun. He claimed he was forced to rape them by Fernando Flores, his long-term friend and room mate. He insisted that Flores was the one who killed them. Flores had initially been arrested for the murder of Taeda Benz and was released after the accusal of Johnny Frank Garrett. Rueda recieved a 45 year sentence with possiblility of parole. There were two movies made about the Johnny Frank Garrett story.A documentary, The Last Word and a thriller movie, Johnny Frank Garrett's Last Word on Tubi, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes