Murder in a Small Town: The Triple Homicide That Devastated Pampa, Texas
When something as heinous as a triple homicide happens in a small town like Pampa, Texas, the devastation is never limited to family members. Rather, the ripples spread throughout the community for decades.
How can something like this happen in this town?
On a night that should have been a celebration of new beginnings and fresh starts, it was instead, the violent end of three lives.
Twila Busby lived in Pampa, Texas in a home with her adult children Elwin Caler, Randy Busby, and Lisa Busby. Twila's boyfriend, Hank Skinner, had recently moved into the home with them.
Skinner, Twila Busby, and her two sons were at home on the fateful evening of December 31, 1993.
Celebrating New Year's Eve 1993
According to court documents, Busby contacted a friend, Howard Mitchell, to come to pick up her and Skinner for his New Year's Eve party. Mitchell arrived between 10:15 and 10:30 pm. Skinner was passed out on the couch and could not be roused, so Busby departed with Mitchell to attend the party.
According to testimony, while at the party Busby was followed and sexually harassed by her intoxicated uncle, Robert Donnell. As a result, Mitchell drove Busby home and dropped her off between 11 and 11:15 pm.
Everything changed in an instant
Around 12:45 pm, officers were dispatched to a neighbor's house near the Busby home. Upon arrival, they found that Twila's son, 22-year-old Elwin Caler, had approached the neighbor's house, rang the doorbell, and then collapsed on the porch. As officers examined the unresponsive Caler, they observed multiple stab wounds. He was transported to a local hospital, but he never regained consciousness and died from his injuries.
Police followed a trail of blood left by Caler, leading them to Twila's home, where they found more blood in the walkway as well as a knife in the doorway. Upon entering the home they found Twila Busby, sprawled on the floor, deceased. She had visible signs of having endured a fatal assault. Officers located a bloody axe handle leaning against the couch.
Moving further into the home, police officers found 20-year-old Randy Busby, stabbed to death on the top bunk of a bunk bed in a room he shared with his brother Elwin. He was under the covers, still wearing his headphones, with music still playing. A bloody handprint was found on the doorway to the room.
On the scene, police also found a black plastic bag that contained a bloody knife and dish towel, and a bloody handprint was also found on the bag.
Police then turned their attention towards the two individuals known to live in the home and could not be found: Twila Busby's daughter Lisa and her live-in boyfriend Hank Skinner.
Police were able to quickly determine that Lisa was safe at a planned sleepover with other family members. Hank Sinner was eventually located at his former AA sponsor's home. Inconspicuously, officers located Skinner hiding in a bedroom closet, covered in blood and sporting a bandaged cut on his hand. Police arrested Skinner for the murder of Twila Busby and her two sons.
Who killed Twila Busby and her sons?
According to Skinner in court testimony, he said he woke up on the couch before midnight and he remembered someone standing over him. He claimed that Twila was drunk when she got home and she was the one that cut his hand with a knife, and he left the home.
The Gray county jury selected to decide Skinner's fate did not agree with his version of events.
Skinner was convicted of all three murders and sentenced to the death penalty. During his time in prison, he continuously claimed innocence. Skinner lost his appeals.
Did he or didn't he?
In March 2010 an hour before he was scheduled to be executed, he was granted a stay of execution by the US Supreme Court to pursue DNA testing of items that had not been tested before his conviction.
According to KAMR, Skinner had long sought additional DNA testing on evidence found at the crime scene he says would clear him of the 1993 murders of his girlfriend Twila Busby and her two adult sons. The evidence in the hearing was three different post-conviction DNA test results performed on evidence from the crime scene. The primary pieces of evidence from both sides will more than likely be three different post-conviction DNA test results performed on evidence from the crime scene.
Unfortunately for Skinner, nothing was overturned. A new execution date was scheduled for Skinner on September 13, 2023. However, Skinner never made it to that date and died on February 16, 2023.
Was Skinner innocent? Was it the uncle? The only people that can answer that question are all dead. If the truth is that Skinner didn't commit the murders, no one will ever know. If it truly was Skinner that committed the murders, then justice was indeed finally served.
This wasn't the only shocking multiple murder that occurred in Pampa, Texas. Stay tuned, that story will be next.