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1971: A serial killer arrives; UTPB funding - Odessa American: 75th Anniversary

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75 years of the Odessa American 1971: A serial killer arrives; UTPB funding

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Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:00 am

EDITOR’S NOTE: This year marks 75 years of the Odessa American. Through the OA’s anniversary date of Oct. 2, we will count down the last 75 years, with a brief summary of some of the news and events that affected Odessans.

Serial killer: The bodies of two missing women were found early in the year, and a third woman vanished, provoking what turned out to be well-founded fears of a serial killer in Odessa. Ruth Maynard, 24, wife of Odessa police officer Jack Maynard, disappeared Jan. 9. Her body was discovered on a ranch in northwest Odessa on Feb. 16.

The remains of Nancy Mitchell were found June 4 near an oil well four miles east of Kermit. She had been missing for nearly nine months. Less than two weeks later, on June 17, Gloria Sue Green, 26, vanished from the O&L Well Service building on Kermit Highway, leaving behind her shoes, purse and car. Lawmen presumed that Green was another victim of foul play, but all of the cases remained unsolved by the end of the year.

Bond issues fail: Voters defeated three bond issues, totaling more than $11 million. A $990,000 county bond issue for the construction of a new library lost by a two-to-one margin on March 30. On Nov. 23, voters turned out in record numbers to clobber a $7.7 million bond proposed by regents of the Permian Junior College System. The measure, which would have allotted the majority of funds to build a new campus in Midland, was defeated by a 45-1 margin. On Dec. 16, voters also turned down a $2.5 million proposal by the Ector County Independent School District for a new football stadium and additional athletic facilities at four schools. The bond issue was defeated 4,787 to 3,695.

UTPB funding: A bill authorizing $11 million in initial construction for UTPB buildings passed the 62nd Legislature, overcoming a filibuster by Sen. Don Kenard of Fort Worth. Legislation also was introduced to make UTPB a four-year school. Sen. W.E. Snelson of Midland was credited with allowing time in the session to run out before the bill could clear the Senate. UTPB faced yet another obstacle as five Midlanders filed a lawsuit to challenge the ownership of the campus property. At the end of the year, the suit was still pending with the Texas Supreme Court.

Shopping center: Samuel Longiotti of Chapel Hill, N.C., formed Plaza Associates of Odessa Inc. to build and operate Odessa’s largest shopping center. Construction on the $6 million shopping complex got under way at a site on 42nd and Grandview in northeast Odessa. On Aug. 31, a local development company announced a $2.5 million project to construct a 120-unit apartment at42nd and Tanglewood.

Drug crackdown: On Dec. 15, 73 indictments for possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs were returned by an Ector County Grand Jury. The action stemmed from a 1970 grand jury investigation of Odessa’s drug problem, which warned that if widespread drug abuse continued, severe measures would be taken.


  • Three-day blizzard drops up to 26 inches of snow in Panhandle in February.
  • AMTRAK begins service on May 1. The government-supported corporation was created to provide rail service in areas where it was not profitable for private railroads.
  • The “Pentagon Papers” are published in the New York Times. The papers are part of a classified report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and reveal efforts by the government to deceive the public about the U.S. role in Southeast Asia.
  • The 26th Amendment is ratified, lowering the voting age to 18 from 21.
  • President Nixon announces he will visit the People’s Republic of China in 1972, a shift in U.S. foreign policy that will lead to “normalization” of relations between the countries.
  • Dr. Seuss publishes “The Lorax.”
  • Sorry Cowboys fans – The boys from Dallas lost in Super Bowl V to the Colts 16-13.
  • Folk rock singer Don McLean releases “American Pie.”
  • Pat Sullivan wins the Heisman.

Information is drawn from news accounts, archives and other historical records.

Odessa, TX

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