LOOKING BACK: KHS murder victim remembered; Linda Jane Phillips had a bright future cut short too early

This is Linda's yearbook photo.

This is Linda's yearbook photo.

BROOKE NEWTON, Staff writer

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On a hot and humid day, everyone was determined to find Linda. Looking in the skies helicopters buzzed all around. Regular people on horseback or foot all searched – wanting and hoping to find the body of Linda Jane Phillips and hoping for the best outcome.

Sweet Kaufman, Texas, where everybody knows everybody, small town gossip surrounds you, football is love, and murder is rare. Linda Jane Phillips was born in Waukegan, Ill., in 1943. Growing up Linda and her family moved to Kaufman from Seagoville when her father, James R. Phillips, became superintendent of the Kaufman school district.

Linda was a spectacular student; she was in the band and in National Honor Society. She was also a part of the future teachers and future nurses programs. She acted in in the senior play and seemed to have a bright future.

An honors graduate from KHS in the class of 1962, she later received a college degree from North Texas State University to be a teacher, and was soon hired on at Forrest Ridge Elementary in Richardson, where she taught for five years.

On Aug. 9, 1970, Linda was on her way home from a wedding party she attended in Dallas with her parents. Around 10:30 p.m., she called her parents to let them know she wouldn’t be coming home that night, and she was going to stay with a friend. In the mix of all this, her plans unknowingly changed, and she would be going home but did not call her parents to let them know.

This is a yearbook photo of Linda her senior year with members of NHS. She is second from left.jpg

This is a yearbook photo of Linda her senior year with members of NHS. She is second from left.

The next day around noon, Linda’s body was found off a dirt road that feeds into F.M. 987 in Post Oak Bend, but her car was found in Talty. It is unknown whether she was followed from the highway to where her car was found or if she was stopped on the highway. Clothes, shoes, and other personal items were found scattered north from where her car was found for about a mile. Police believed that Linda was then taken to near where her body was found and then brutally stabbed to death 26 times.

Originally Sheriff Roy Brockway and Special Investigator Bill Baker had said they had some leads, but no real suspects. In 1984, Henry Lee Lucas, a self-proclaimed mass killer, pleaded guilty to the murder. Lucas led authorities to the site of the murder in January and he signed a confession including details that only a participant in the crime would know about.

“We’re all fairly confident that he did kill Linda Phillips,” Kaufman County District Attorney William Conradt told the Associated Press in 1984. “I asked him, ‘How in the world can you remember the details?’ You start to think that he’s just confessing to any murder that has come along. He told me, ‘There are just some things so terrible that you can’t forget them.’”

Lucas was the only suspect tried for the murder. Some say Lucas didn’t really commit the murder, and was just covering up for whoever did it considering he had already murdered so many women. Born in 1936, in Blacksburg, Va., to alcoholic parents, including a mother who prostituted herself, Lucas’s sexual deviancy formed in his teen years.

In 1960, he was sentenced for the murder of his mother. Paroled in 1970, Lucas went back to jail for the attempted kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl. Released again in 1975, he killed two more women, and was arrested in 1983. Lucas was then sentenced to life in prison by State District Judge Glen Ashworth. He confessed to murdering hundreds of people, though no proof existed beyond three known victims.

“I have killed for the past ten years, and no one will believe me,” Lucas told the Associated Press.

Family and friends were pleased that Lucas was finally was convicted for his actions.

“As long as he gets the death penalty, that’s all we’re concerned about,” Linda’s father said after his conviction in 1984. “We’ve been through enough grief.”

Many people cherished Linda Jane Phillips, and her presence will never be forgotten. It’s been 33 years, and though her life was cut short early, it is important to remember her.

Brooke Newton  is a junior journalism student in Mr. Chaffin’s class.

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18 Comments

18 Responses to “LOOKING BACK: KHS murder victim remembered; Linda Jane Phillips had a bright future cut short too early”

  1. blackandgoldblog on November 13th, 2013 7:50 pm

    Great story Brooke! Such a tragic tale, but I think you gave it some freshness and reminded some people about this poor, young woman’s fate. —— Mr. Chaffin

    [Reply]

  2. Mrs. Merritt on November 15th, 2013 5:39 pm

    Wow, I had no idea this happened in our town. Great job!

    [Reply]

  3. Coach Lott on November 19th, 2013 6:19 pm

    I remember my parents telling me about this story. Scary past.

    [Reply]

  4. blackandgoldblog on November 21st, 2013 8:37 pm

    Great job in capturing the scene. ——– Mr. Chaffin

    [Reply]

  5. cj on March 9th, 2014 11:40 pm

    Newton – good coverage but you have a few errors in your article. Forest (one “r”) Ridge Elementary School was constructed in 1967 and partially completed by the 1968 Fall session when the school first opened. So Linda Phillips could have only taught there at most two years (not five) – I attended her fourth grade class in 1969-1970.
    It is very tragic what happened to Ms. Phillips in August 1970 but am doubtful Lucas had anything to do with it despite this con man’s confession – as Texas governor Bush expressed, “Today’s knowledge about his (Lucas’s) pattern of lies raises doubts.” But now the Lucas conviction is on the Texas books for the Linda Phillips murder. Albright is my guess as the real culprit.

    [Reply]

    KarenA Reply:

    I was looking through my old elementary school records this weekend and found a photo of Ms. Philips. I recently heard from my childhood friend that they solved her murder case, so I decided to do some research and this article was the first thing I found on the Internet. I was a student in Ms. Phillips’ 4th grade class at Forest Ridge Elementary School in 1969-1970, so CJ we were classmates! You are correct about the age of our school. Grade 4 was my second year to attend there. Ms. Phillips was my favorite teacher in elementary school and I am grateful that she was a part of my life. I feel like I finally have closure after reading this article. KA

    [Reply]

    Jessie Long Reply:

    I do not believe he murdered Linda.

    [Reply]

  6. KarenA on March 30th, 2014 11:55 pm

    I forgot to check the box to notify me of follow up comments to this article .

    [Reply]

  7. Cathy B on April 3rd, 2014 1:14 am

    Thank you Brooke for a nice story on Ms. Phillips I was in her 4th grade class too, with Chris and Karen. It’s obvious she had a great impact on her students and we remember her fondly. I’m sorry her life was so short and that other kids missed out.

    [Reply]

  8. Don Ross Hullin on February 6th, 2015 4:16 am

    I went to school with Linda Phillips in Seagoville. The last time I saw her alive was in 1964 at NTSU ( now UNT ) in Denton in front of the Industrial Arts building at that time. I had not seen her since she left Seagoville. I recognized her immediately but she did not recognize me until I introduced myself. It had been so many years. We said our goodbyes like two souls meeting in the night.

    [Reply]

  9. Sharon Sboyd on March 20th, 2016 6:54 pm

    I taught school with Linda. She was last seen alive leaving my house. We were having a party and she decided to go home. I invited her to stay and spend the night rather than drive. I don’t remember if she was drinking or not.. But I asked her to stay cause it was so late and she was alone.. We were all questioned and took polygraph tests including my elderly parents that were at the party too. Got a call the next day, asking if I had seen her. It was the most horrible experience I have ever been associated with. We all loved her —I decided to google her after coming across some newspaper clippings I saved from over 30 years ago about her and found this article., One article is about a man named Edward Staggs who also was a murderer in the vicinity. They thought he may have done it. The other about Henry Lucas. I do know they worked for several years on this case, I was even talked to a couple of years later I think it was.—I had moved north by then. RIP Linda, I have thought of you many many times. If only I could have changed your mind about leaving…

    [Reply]

    Sharon Sboyd Reply:

    I don’t think her parents were at the party as your article stated.

    [Reply]

  10. salem cortez on March 28th, 2016 10:29 pm

    Is there anyone at the highschool who knows bout this

    [Reply]

  11. Jessie Long on July 30th, 2016 2:01 pm

    I knew Edward Staggs for many years and he was NO killer. His family were dirt poor but were good people. He was accused but he cried and swore to my grandmother and I he didn’t do it. I believe him. Back then many poor people took the fall for crimes they did not commit.

    [Reply]

    Jessie Long Reply:

    And Edward was not in the vicinity. And some of my ex-husbands family and my ex were also accused. They also knew details. Also drove a vehicle which matched the description of a car seen. Some of her family also accused others who they felt killed her. We may never know the identity of the actual killer.

    [Reply]

  12. Marilyn Earnheart McBride on July 30th, 2016 3:32 pm

    I remember Linda’s disappearance was the talk of Kaufman ho sad it was when they found her. Her parents were terrific people and my brother & Mark were in the same graduating class. Now all of my grandkids have gone to the school named after James R Phillips They truly left a legacy and it was a senseless act that happened to Linda, she may be gone but she will never be forgotten!

    [Reply]

  13. Julia on July 30th, 2016 3:37 pm

    I remember this not because of her death, but she was found in a ditch across the road from our house. This is such sad story, we were close in age and I to drove on the road that they found her car on. I worked in Mesquite needless to not for long, it did not seem safe anymore. I had heard the man who killed her was a patient in Terrell State Hospital but that has been several years ago.

    [Reply]

  14. RON JONES CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR KAUFMAN COUNTY D.A. RETIRED 2013 on July 31st, 2017 11:56 pm

    I INVESTIGATED THIS CASE WHILE WORKING FOR D.A. MIKE MCLELLAND I COULD WRITE A BOOK ON THIS WITH ALL THE INFORMATION THAT I GATHERED LIKE EVERY THING ELSE I RAN INTO SOME POLITICAL WALLS TO MAKE A LONG STORY SHORT ALL I NEEDED TO COMPLETE MY WORK WAS TO MEET WITH CHARLES ALLBRITE JR. WHO IS SERVING LIFE IN AMARILLO TEXAS BUT RAN INTO SOME POLITICAL WALLS BEFORE I COULD COMPLETE MY INVESTIGATION I ALONG WITH ANOTHER INVESTIGATOR FEEL WITHOUT A DOUBT CHARLES KILLED LINDA I FEEL AS IF I HAD KNOWN LINDA AND I BELIEVE SHE HELPED GUIDE ME FROM HER GRAVE AS I WORKED ON HER CASE D.A. MIKE MCLELLAND ALSO BELIEVED I WAS ON THE RIGHT TRACK BUT UNFORTUNATELY HE WAS ALSO MURDERED BEFORE WE WERE GOING TO MAKE IT KNOWN HENRY LEE LUCAS WAS NOT HER KILLER

    [Reply]

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