I D Features a Classic Texas Saga of Money, Sex and a Mansion Murder !
By John Kays
"Priscilla's notion of a fine gown required a bare minimum of material, yet she thought nothing of spending $20,000 a month on clothes. Her favorite piece of jewelry was a gold necklace that spelled out RICH B*TCH." Blood Will Tell - Gary Cartwright
I had to dig out from storage a tattered Pocket paperback of Blood Will Tell by Gary Cartwright, after viewing a vignette on (Investigative Discovery - Behind Mansion Walls) about T. Cullen Davis and his estranged-platinum-blond wife, Priscilla Davis. Memories flooded back in my head, as I recalled this tall Texas tale of money, corruption, and ultimately murder most foul.
Back in the '80s, on a few occasions, I would see Priscilla Davis at the Lemmon Avenue Bar and Grill in Dallas. This was around ten years after the murders in that zany mansion on Mockingbird Drive in Fort Worth. I wondered if the mansion (which looked more like a museum) was still standing today? I know that Priscilla died of breast cancer in 2001.
I recorded the special on the Investigative Discovery Channel, and thought it was quite good in terms of putting the whole chilling story back on the front-burner of my mind. I was making assessments, measuring specifications, as to the quality of ingredients served on a platter of intrigue, and kept in mind my prejudice as a native Texan.
It's all there alright, and the best characteristic is the mystery element. Did T. Cullen go to the mansion on August 2nd, 1976, first shoot Andrea Wilborn, then when Priscilla and Stan Farr returned, did he shoot Priscilla (only wounding her), then shoot Stan four times? And when Gus Gavrel and Bev Bass returned, did he wound Gus (severely)? In the Pocket paperback, recollections of the crime are covered on pages 98-110.
Priscilla, Gus and Bev all positively identified T. Cullen as shooter, dressed in black and wearing a long black wig. But how did T. Cullen manage to get an acquittal? A simple answer is he got a really good attorney, Racehorse Haynes, who he paid 13 million dollars, to get him off. Racehorse's line of defense, in a nutshell, was a character assassination on Priscilla Davis.
And it worked. Were there lavish parties, with sex and drugs, at the mansion in the aftermath of their estrangement and divorce proceedings? Maybe a few. And what about Priscilla's addiction to the painkiller Percodin? This addiction was used to show how her judgment may have been clouded when she identified Cullen as the intruder/killer at the mansion that August night.
One clip from the ID special that was particularly attention grabbing, was when Dee Davis (Priscilla's daughter) talked about the failsafe alarm system in place at the mansion. Dee also mentions it was very high-tech for the time (folks, this was the late summer of 1976). This alarm system is described in detail on page 43 of Blood Will Tell. It occurred to me, isn't the only one who would be capable of disarming the alarm system T Cullen himself?
Well, I will look around for the movie made for TV, Texas Justice, starring Heather Locklear as Priscilla. It seems to be out of print though? I've seen it before, but I need to see how well Heather plays her role of Priscilla. In fact, I want to go back over every detail of this case again, knowing that much was missed the first time around. Let's see, what movie was it that T. Cullen went to on August 2nd, 1976?
John Kays identifies timeless remnants from our past that will endure, or be admired by future generations.
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