The Texas board of pardons and paroles cannot make up their minds about whether or not to release the serial rapist and serial murderer, Lyle Richard Brummett (a k a Lyle Richard, Richard Stone, etc.), who murdered my longtime girlfriend, Dianne Roberts, in 1976, and was also convicted for his role in the murders of at least two other women in Kerrville in 1975. I’ve had trouble sleeping at night for a long time now. It hasn’t helped to get conflicting letters from Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). First they said he had been denied parole. Then they said “accepted.” Then they said he’s under “special review.”
The grim facts have weighed heavily on me for 36 years now. But on the plus side, at least I’m alive. So it’s my duty, in a way, to spread the word about this individual and his path of destruction. I’ve written about this before, in my book Never the Same Again, in great detail. I’d rather you read about it there than to have to write another word about it. You can buy the book at BookPeople in Austin, or from me or Amazon, print version or ebook. I wrote about it for New York Times Magazine in 2001 and also in Texas Monthly.
You can also read about this dread situation in today’s Austin-American Statesman which gives a short, simplified version of the story.
The basic situation now is this: The families of the victims of Brummett’s violent rampages who are on the notification list of Victims Services (a division of TDCJ) receive letters each time this convicted, confessed murderer is under consideration for parole. In 1977 he confessed and was convicted of two murders and sentenced to two life terms, concurrent. This arrangement was part of a plea bargain. Committing murder during the process of rape and other serious crimes is a capital offense. In 1976, when Brummett was apprehended, the death penalty was in the process of being reinstated in Texas. The supreme court had approved the capital punishment provisions in Texas and other states, but a few legal hurdles remained. Brummett wisely decided to confess to his crimes and confess, which helped resolve the cases in Kerrville, which had gone unsolved for almost a year’s time. Brummett implicated another individual in two of the Kerrville cases, the murders of Beth Vallance Pearson and Carol London, both teenagers.
In September 1975, Brummett was released from jail in Kerrville after being charged with the rape of one teenager there. That same day, Brummett and an accomplice took two teenage girls to a rocky pasture outside of town and murdered them. In November Brummett was charged with yet another rape in Kerrville. He moved to Austin, changed his name, got married. He was charged with several other crimes, including credit card fraud. His wife was pregnant. He was slated for a July 1976 trial in the rape indictments, but his lawyer obtained a continuance. Thus, in August 1976, he was free. Free to go out drinking with an old friend of mine. The pair came by the South Austin house I shared with Dianne Roberts, my first love, a beautiful, gentle, artistic poet named Dianne Roberts, from Houston, Texas. We met during my first few weeks in college. My friend had briefly rented a room from us. He would come by periodically to pick up some of his things, since he didn’t have a permanent place at the time. The two drinkers came by, visited with Dianne for a while, and learned that I was away playing a gig in San Antonio. Later that night, Brummett came back, broke in and murdered Dianne. The next day, August 16, 1976, I came home, excited about how well the gig had gone. I called for her, went looking for her, and found her where Brummett had discarded her body. I went into shock. Everything moved in slow motion for a long time. It was difficult even to dial the phone to call the police. When they came, the cops were pretty weirded out by our rock n roll pad, with its strange art and objects. Apparently they had me pegged for the prime suspect. Many, many hours later, after being fingerprinted and questioned, I remembered our roommate’s strange friend. I told the detectives about him and they paid him a visit.
So… like I said, I don’t want to write about this. The facts are, Brummett could well have been one of the first capital punishment cases executed after the lifting of the death penalty moratorium. His attorneys at the time convinced him that his life at least would be spared if he cooperated and confessed to the lesser charges (rape trials are always difficult, and even more difficult when the victims are dead; and in the Kerr County cases, the remains were scattered bones; Brummett also confessed to at least one other murder in Kerrville where the remains could not be located).
Listen, if you know me, you know I am mostly a happy, positive guy. I’m happily married to Lois Richwine, a strong, creative, imaginative, beautiful person. We have a great son. We have a pretty great life. So I’m not dragging this thing around the town square like the rotting corpse of some beast I killed in the forest, trying to get attention and acclamation. This is just one of those terrible things that is part of the architecture of my life. Most of that architecture is very good. Then there’s this rotten part. We just have to deal with it.
So now we wait until the May 11 meeting with the parole board. The decision on whether this individual will be let loose to walk among us and our children is up to them, apparently. It’s already very difficult to sleep. I hope they make the right decision and leave him in jail for at least a couple more decades.
What you can do. Contact Victim Services. Send a fax (512/452-0825) or email them. Here is the email address: email@example.com and use the subject line: URGENT PAROLE PROTEST. Put this identifier at the top of your message: Lyle Brummett TDCJ ID: 00267843. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you include his TDCJ ID, so just do it. If you want to copy and paste the background info below, do so. But make sure you state your opinion clearly by saying “Please DO NOT release Lyle Brummett.” If you are a relative or friend of one of the victims, it helps to describe the ongoing loss to the family and community, the awful damage done by this individual’s crimes, and the ongoing threat to the community if he is released.
Background: On August 16, 1976 Lyle Brummett broke into the home of Dianne Roberts, and raped and strangled her. It should have been a death penalty case, but there was no death penalty at the time. When arrested in 1976 he quickly confessed to his role in the rape and murder of two Kerrville girls a year earlier. Brummett confessed on the night of September 17, 1975, he and his accomplice picked up two girls in downtown Kerrville, Carol Ann London (18) and Elizabeth Pearson (15). The girls had car trouble. Brummett and his accomplice drove both girls to a deserted pasture a few miles outside of Kerrville and raped and murdered them. They strangled the girls, and then bashed their heads with rocks and sticks. They drove a short way down I-10 and ditched the girl’s clothes and underwear, which were found a few days later. On the day of the murder, Brummett had just been released on bail from Kerr County jail on a rape charge committed September 2nd, and then on November 16th he raped another girl in Kerrville. Brummett was arrested on another unrelated rape and murder of another young woman in Austin.
Brummett pled guilty and was given two life sentences, to be served concurrently.