Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all mankind during this Holiday season is a humbling and heart-touching moment to show respect and love to all. True crime journalists and daily news reporters realize how foreboding it can be to write about murder during the Holidays because murder disturbs us all.
Yet it is necessary to report on unsolved murders to keep hope alive for the victims’ families left behind in deep, agonizing thought, wondering what happened; who done it?
Stories focused on unsolved cases also give families of the victims the hope that the killer(s) who shed innocent blood of their loved ones will someday be brought to justice.
This Holiday season in the year of 2020, Newsblaze crime reporter Clarence Walker Jr. takes a crack at investigating the high-profile murders of two prominent wealthy businessmen in Houston “H-Town” Texas.
Unsolved Case #1
Montrose Area Murder of Cadillac Dealership Owner Joe Stewart
It has been over five years since assailants crept into the darkness on a warm, spring night on Thursday, May 7, 2015, and murdered Houston’s millionaire Cadillac Dealership owner Joe Stewart, age 54, at his home in the Montrose area, one of Houston’s affluent districts. When Houston patrol officers responded to emergency reports of gunfire, officers found Stewart dead of gunshot wounds in his garage.
The disarray of the scene highly suggested the millionaire had made it home to 505 West Bell, and, as he walked into the garage area which led inside his fabulous townhome – a killer or killers confronted Stewart, shooting him multiple times.
He fell dead, face-up.
Neighbors told police they heard the shots and when they looked out their window they saw a black male wearing a hoodie and a mask, running down the street. Moments later paramedics pronounced Stewart deceased.
Crime scene unit investigators blocked the shooting area off with yellow tape and started taking measurements, snapping photos, searching for clues in the garage where Stewart was shot, as well as inside the house where Stewart fell.
Houston Police Homicide Investigators J. Villarreal and R. Lujan arrived at the scene to canvass the neighborhood to determine what happened and if anyone had seen anything beneficial to the investigation. The area near West Bell and West Gray, where Stewart lived, was packed with patrol cars, fire trucks and police cars. Neighbors spilled out into the street in front of Stewart’s home in shock, trying to grasp the horror that took place in their upper-scale section of town, popularly called Midtown Houston.
Investigators spoke with a witness who was walking her dog who said she “saw the possible gunman running off on foot with an object in his hand right after the shots were fired.”
“I was in the living room watching television and I heard four, five, six, seven shots that sounded like gunfire,” said neighbor Jackie Barry.
Stewart, a millionaire, owned Stewart Cadillac Dealership in Midtown. The dealership is located at the corner of Main Street and McGowan.
“It doesn’t feel real,” neighbor Jessica Archer told news reporters at the scene. “I’m terrified. It happened ten feet from my window. It doesn’t feel real.”
Homicide investigator J. Villarreal spoke with a Channel 13 TV reporter.
“Witnesses heard gunshots and saw a black male running across the street. It’s possible it could be a robbery but at this point we don’t want to speculate,” Villarreal said.
After numerous interviews by police of family, employees and friends, not a single person said Joe Stewart had enemies.
Who Wanted Joseph “Joe” Stewart Dead?
After Harris County Medical Examiner’s personnel removed Stewart’s body from the scene, news of the death of the well-known, beloved Cadillac dealership owner sent shockwaves throughout Houston. Friends and employees of Stewart went to his home, saw the yellow crime scene tape, and broke down in tears as the realization of his death became real.
Those closest to Stewart said his routine was basically the same: he’d arrived at work at the dealership around 7:a.m. and didn’t leave until as late as 7:p.m. or sometimes later than 7:p.m.
Police learned the rich businessman would visit the upper-scale, exclusive clubs not far from his home and his dealership in the Midtown-Montrose area – where he’d have drinks with friends or co-workers at selected bars, have a bite to eat, and subsequently drive home to 505 West Bell Street.
Police discovered on the night Stewart was shot that he’d visited Junction Bar at 160 West Gray Street and later ate dinner at Vic & Anthony’s.
“Whoever did this, I want them dead,” Shelly Schuster told a KHOU-11 TV station.
Schuster served Stewart at a Midtown bar shortly before he was murdered.
Despite the best efforts of the police to zero in on a suspect, they came up empty-handed.
Previous Robbery Attempt
While investigating Joe Stewart’s death, the Detectives thought they discovered a robbery motive when they learned that two weeks before Stewart was fatally shot he had arrived home, pulling into his garage in his black 2013 Cadillac Escalade when a white Jeep Cherokee parked at the end of Stewart’s driveway. Just when Stewart exited his vehicle he was confronted in his garage by three masked men wearing hoodies.
Two guys had a gun while another assailant held a taser. Miraculously, Stewart ran out of the garage when, strangely, the assailants began arguing with each other!
Stewart reported the weird but harrowing event to the police.
“I don’t understand why Mr. Stewart didn’t have bodyguards to protect him and follow him home after those men ran into his garage with guns,” Ronald Boatwright, a former employee of Stewart Cadillac told Newsblaze.
“I thought someone’s husband had Joe killed because he messed around with lots of women,” Boatwright added. Boatwright further said the underworld might be involved because some people were trying to get Joe to sell his dealership.
Detectives surmised it appeared the two incidents were related. Still, no money or any valuables were taken from Stewart although during the first incident the men tried to force Stewart into his home.
Numerous people were questioned including individuals with criminal records who worked at Stewart’s dealership but the only two plausible motives the Detectives leaned on were either a robbery or a hit.
Detectives even speculated if a disgruntled employee decided to murder Stewart or that Stewart may have done a bad business deal with the wrong individuals.
A Detroit native, Joe Stewart, a graduate of Grosse Ile High School later attended Western Michigan University. Stewart previously worked under “Cadillac King” Don Massey, according to Houston Chronicle. Stewart was promoted to General Manager under Massey, operating dealerships in Colorado and California. Stewart stepped up to the Heavyweight class and purchased his Cadillac dealership from Massey in 2002, re-naming it Stewart Cadillac.
Known for his generosity, Stewart often loaned money to employees and gave money to people hanging out near the lower end of downtown Houston where he owned the dealership.
Showing love for siblings, Stewart purchased a nice home for his brother David. On regular occasions, the affable dealership owner invited friends and family to his expensive homes in Clearwater, Beach Florida, Denver, Colorado including allowing loved ones to visit a home that he owned in the Cayman Islands.
Stewart Cadillac issued the following statement: “Joseph Stewart was a beloved friend and a caring individual that cherished and supported his community. This tragic incident has already impacted so many, and we are truly thankful and appreciative of all our community’s caring support during our time of loss.”
Rev. Johnny Jeremiah aka Johnny Binder, associate pastor at Higher Dimension Church and close friend of Stewart, cried.
“I don’t cry for people, but I cried for him,” Jeremiah said to reporters.
“They had no right to kill him. He helped too many people. He’s a hero in this community,” Jeremiah lamented.
Houston police announced a $25,000.00 reward two weeks later for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the death of Joe Stewart.
The case went ice cold.
Unsolved Case #2
5th Ward Murder of McDonald’s Franchise Owner Carroll Oliver
The senseless murder of 68-year-old Carroll Oliver, a beloved McDonald’s franchise owner, shocked citizens, prominent politicians, attorneys, police officers and many others from different walks of life across the city of Houston, Texas.
Families, employees, and neighbors who resided in the 5th Ward area where Oliver owned a McDonald’s restaurant described him as a community hero, a beacon of light for the blighted 5th Ward, located north of downtown.
Affectionately hailed as a community hero in Houston’s Fifth Ward for over four decades, Carroll Oliver, a former Chicago cop and also a current Chaplain for a Law enforcement agency in Fort Bend County Texas, built a legacy of giving funds to various community organizations; gifted scholarships to those who needed them most, fed homeless adults and fed hungry neighborhood children with french fries and juicy burgers. He gave money to employees short on cash, and gave first-time employment to teenagers at a nearby high school.
“He motivated me to make a difference,” said Stacy Joseph, a former Oliver employee. “Not only in my life but in the lives of everyone I would come in contact with.”
“He (Mr. Oliver) exemplified a life far better than what drugs or the streets would offer.”
“His commitment was all about people and giving back to his community,” Stephanie Oliver-Parrish, Oliver’s daughter, lamented.
Carroll Oliver didn’t discriminate against anyone.
Oliver’s generous heart even led him to give second chances to ex-convicts by hiring them to work; ex-convicts were the kind of people who couldn’t find work elsewhere.
“No matter what you had been through, who you were or what you had done, he would help you,” said Theresa Green, during an interview with a Houston Chronicle reporter. Green and Oliver had known each other for more than 30 years.
“He looked at everyone the way God does, like a person.”
The New Year of 2016 came in with a ‘bang’ like the years before, thanks to the ringing of bells, honking of horns, gunfire, champagne popping, liquor drinking, kissing couples, buzzing cheers of people, shouting “Happy New Year,” and the echoing of music from houses, clubs, and restaurants. While these festivities brought joy to many, New Year’s also exudes a spiritual significance, people pray, thanking God they made it over to another brand New Year.
Carroll Oliver embraced the New Year as usual with prayer, asking God to continue to strengthen him to keep doing his will to help others and take care of his loving family.
Despite all the good that Carroll Oliver did for others, his life was cut short on the morning of Monday, January 11, 2016. Armed with an automatic weapon and a suitcase full of cash earned from sales over the weekend, Oliver was leaving his McDonald’s restaurant located at Lockwood Drive and I-10 East Freeway between 9:30 a.m. and 9: 40 a.m. Oliver was headed to the bank to make a deposit when a group of young men driving a white SUV vehicle attempted to rob him.
Parked a few cars away from Oliver’s vehicle the crooks’ automobile pulled out, stopping at the rear of Oliver’s vehicle as one suspect pointed a shiny weapon at Oliver as he held onto his suitcase packed with cash.
Realizing the gunplay was an armed hijacking, Oliver, visibly in fear, pulled his own weapon, aimed at the truck, and squeezed the trigger. The gun didn’t fire because Oliver forgot to release the safety latch! In quick fashion, another robber in the vehicle shot Oliver.
Pacing back and forth in the parking lot, Oliver finally collapsed to the pavement and died at the scene. The SUV driver, with his crime partners in tow, hopped on the I-10 freeway ramp located directly in front of Oliver’s McDonald’s restaurant and headed west towards downtown.
A female employee had just finished her shift and while sitting in a car next to Oliver’s vehicle she heard the loud shots. When the girl hurriedly exited her vehicle she saw Oliver on the ground, badly wounded!
“Call 911! Call 911!” “Mr. Oliver been shot,” the employee yelled to her co-workers.
Panic set in.
Employees and customers ran outside to where Oliver fell to the ground. “Oh lord, how mercy, ‘someone shot Mr. Oliver,” another woman cried out.
Shortly thereafter, police patrol officers, emergency vehicles, fire trucks and eventually homicide detectives Sergeant Brian Harris and Fil Waters arrived at the scene. Oliver’s employees gave detectives Harris and Waters a complete rundown of Oliver’s routine whenever he traveled to the bank to deposit money.
News media converged on the scene as over 100 people packed into the McDonald’s parking lot. Many visibly sobbed as they made a flower shrine to express their grief over Oliver’s tragic death.
“The only thing taken out here today was Mr. Oliver’s life,” Detective Waters stated while speaking to a crowd of TV reporters.
The parking lot video surveillance showed the action as it unfolded. The robbers in the white SUV had been backed into a parking space not far from Oliver’s vehicle. When Oliver exited the restaurant to get into his car to head to the bank the SUV pulled out, stopped where Oliver was standing, and the obscure assailant, brandishing a weapon, attempted to scare Oliver into giving up the cash-filled suitcase. Suddenly, Oliver reacted, pulled his weapon, squeezed the trigger, but the gun didn’t fire. At this moment gunfire erupted from the SUV. Carroll Oliver was struck down by a bullet.
Witnesses confirmed to police that at least two black men were in the white SUV. One of the suspects was described approximately 6 feet tall, weighing slightly over 200 pounds.
“He was wearing a black jacket with white writing or striping on the front and back,” a witness explained to investigators.
Fil Waters and Brian Harris spent countless hours sifting through the little evidence they had, hoping to get a break on the case. Both Detectives traveled to Marksville Louisiana where Oliver was from to check on what they thought was a decent lead but it soon fizzled out.
Investigators couldn’t find a single motive explaining the real truth behind Oliver’s death. And Oliver didn’t have enemies. He was good to everyone.
A funeral service was held for Oliver at Mother Mercy Catholic Church at 4000 Sumpter Street.
A $50,000 reward was offered by Houston Black McDonald’s Association for information leading to the arrest of the killer(s) in Carroll Oliver’s death.
Two Cold Cases Wake Up
Both rewards were a substantial amount of money for Oliver’s and Stewart’s death. For unknown reasons – no takers took the bait to give up the killers.
Eleven months later after the homicide at McDonald’s a reverse sting by police that captured a crew of armored truck bandits heated up the trail that went cold in the deaths of Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart. One of the bandits was killed.
So what did this police sting have to do with two unsolved murders?
Sharpen up your Detective skills and let’s figure out if the murders of Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart should be considered solved.
Did a Professional “Sniper” Who Murdered Armored Bank Guards Kill Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart?
Heavy pressure mounted on the Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division to solve the murders of Joe Stewart and Carroll Oliver.
Forensic evidence showed the businessman Mr. Oliver was murdered by a .40 caliber bullet. The medical examiner, in fact, removed a .40 caliber bullet from Oliver’s body.
Detectives On A Mission
Two months prior to Detective Waters’ retirement from the Houston Police Department in December 2017 – he was lounging around at the Homicide Division at 1200 Travis Street reminiscing with FBI agent Glen Gregory about the murder cases that he’d worked.
Waters brought up Carroll Oliver’s case with Gregory, telling him that Oliver’s death was one case that he needed to solve before he retired.
Waters and Gregory discussed the recent high-profile investigations of a crew of robbers who robbed and killed armored truck bank guards. The mastermind behind the deadly schemes was a guy named Redrick “Red” Batiste from Acres Home area in Houston.
Batiste was a sniper!
His M.O. was to position himself at a distance with a scope-mounted .223 caliber rifle and once the armored truck guards descend upon the bank’s parking lot to either refill the ATMs’ with cash or transport cash from the bank, Batiste would ambush and shoot the guard dead! Then, next, other accomplices would rush to where the guard fell, grab the money bags, and flee the scene. Batiste and his partners in crimes carefully orchestrated the robberies similar to the characters in the blockbuster movie called “Takers.”
Waters explained to agent Gregory that the only physical evidence he had in the case was the .40 caliber bullet retrieved from Mr. Oliver’s body during an autopsy. Waters further told Gregory that ATF submitted the spent slug through their system and hadn’t been able to find a match.
“There were no bullet casings found in the McDonald’s parking lot,” Waters explained to Gregory. Realizing how Batiste carried out robberies of commercial business owners and by comparisons with the attempted-robbery death of Carroll Oliver matched Batiste’s M.O., Gregory told Waters that the Toyota 4runner used in the attempted robbery of the armored truck at Amegy Bank when Batiste was killed by police, the Toyota 4runner still remained in FBI custody.
Gregory revealed to Waters that the 4runner possibly had a bullet lodged in the frame that separated the front seat from the rear passenger seat. Waters gave the .40 caliber slug that came from Oliver’s body to agent Gregory. Once the agents tore apart the frame of the Toyota 4runner, to their surprise, they retrieved a bullet that lodged into the frame, apparently when the shooter was shooting at Oliver from the front seat. FBI sent both bullets to their firearm lab in Virginia.
“It was a botched robbery because the robbers didn’t realize Mr. Oliver had a gun,” Waters told Newsblaze. “The robbers didn’t get Oliver’s suitcase that contained over $15,000.00…in it,” Waters explained.
Detective Waters finally received the call he’d been waiting on for a long time. The bullet, according to FBI agent Glen Gregory, that was recovered from the frame of the Toyota 4runner that Batiste often used in robberies matched the bullet that came from Oliver’s body! A rush of adrenalin shot through Waters’ veins when the agent gave him the exciting news. Batiste had used the 4runner as a “sniper’s” den in prior armored truck robberies where at least three guards were murdered.
As mentioned, Redrick Batiste was killed by Houston Police SWAT team as he prepared to kill another armored truck guard at Amegy bank located off Sam Houston Tollway at Imperial Valley. Five other members of Batiste’s crew, identified as Marc Hill, Nelson Polk, John Scott, Benny Phillips and Trayvees Duncan-Bush were captured near the scene. With the exception of Trayvees Bush, the remaining four robbers were sentenced to life in federal prison on July 1, 2019 in Houston.
During questioning by FBI agents, the men in custody who were with Batiste when police killed him, said, in fact, it was Redrick Batiste who killed Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart. And that Batiste had an ex-girlfriend who once worked at Oliver’s McDonald’s restaurant. This same girl the men said, would give Batiste the approximate time Mr. Oliver went to the bank each day to deposit money.
Investigators discovered an interesting lead when they discovered that Batiste’s girlfriend, identified as Keisha Thomas* worked as a car salesperson for Joe Stewart Cadillac Dealership on McGowen Street in Houston’s Midtown area. Thomas denied knowing whether Batiste murdered anyone. Police were perplexed about Batiste having a girlfriend employed at Stewart Cadillac dealership when he was killed.
Waters told NewsBlaze, “There are no coincidences in homicide investigations.” “Batiste was very smart, very cunning.”
Perhaps cell phone records aren’t coincidence either.
Based on the historical analysis of a cell phone retrieved from Batiste after police killed him, evidence proved that during the evening and approximate time when millionaire Cadillac dealership owner Joe Stewart was killed on May 7, 2015, Batiste’s cell phone “pinged” like crazy in the immediate area where Stewart was shot in his garage. Police suspect the crew placed a GPS tracker on Stewart’s Cadillac vehicle and tracked him to his home.
Batiste’s girlfriend, Keisha Thomas*, complained that if the police knew her boyfriend was robbing armored truck guards; why did the police wait until later to kill him?
The mystique surrounding Batiste is why he went off the deep end and became a vicious killer who carried out his crimes by using a scope-mounted, high-powered rifle? Police didn’t crack these unsolved cases committed by Batiste until an informant who robbed dope dealers for a living decided to make an easier way of making money by telling FBI agents about Batiste’s crimes.
Four years later, on November 1, 2019, community leaders, Fifth Ward residents, Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City Council marked a significant milestone after Oliver’s death when a street (next to Oliver’s McDonald’s) was named in his honor called Oliver Carroll Way.
The city of Houston, recognizing the positive impact and the influence Oliver’s life had on the greater 5th Ward community, Mayor Turner unveiled the new Oliver Carroll Way that had once been Callis Street. “Mr. Oliver was a beloved servant,” Turner said, as TV cameras recorded the event.
“My heart felt a special beating and a flutter, and I knew I could say, ‘You know, Dad, you definitely can rest in peace. Job well done,” lamented Stephanie Parrish-Oliver.
Building The Evidence
Although the murders of Joe Stewart and Carroll Oliver are attributed to Redrick Batiste, not a single person identified him by sight as the killer.
The snitch only told police about Batiste’s involvement in the death of armored truck bank guards. The only evidence police gathered was spotty at best, only circumstantial: a bullet, stolen Toyota 4runnner linked to Batiste, cell phone records, and street criminals seeking to lessen their prison sentence indicated Batiste not only killed Joe Stewart and Carroll Oliver but that he also killed people in Louisiana.
Retired Houston police officer Chris Andersen who followed Batiste and his Robbery crew for three months before helping FBI to take the crooks down explained to Newsblaze that homicide cases are sometimes prematurely closed out because “It’s less work to do.”
At a court hearing for the five defendants who’d been arrested on December 7, 2016, at Amegy bank when police killed Batiste, an FBI agent stirred up a news media frenzy when he said Redrick Batiste was a suspect in Joe Stewart’s death.
The surprising admission emerged suddenly when FBI agent Jeffrey Coughlin said Redrick Batiste was not only a suspect in the murders of armored truck guards but that he was a suspect in another murder, Houston Chronicle reported.
“The homicide of who?” defense attorney Peter Bray asked. Bray represented one of the captured defendants recruited by Batiste to rob armored trucks.
Coughlin answered succinctly, “Joseph Stewart, the owner of the Cadillac dealership.”
Reached by phone, Stewart’s ex-wife Bridgett Stewart, spoke a bit cautiously, yet her voice tinged with excitement.
“I would just be so pleased to have justice for Joe.”
The closest to a legitimate reason to explain why Batiste may be involved in Stewart’s death was when Texas Monthly Magazine reporter Skip Hollandsworth wrote in his story about the case. Hollandsworth said he’d learned Batiste was angry at Stewart for not treating his girlfriend Keisha Thomas* as well as he treated another white car salesperson. Thomas denied having problems at Stewart Cadillac and that Batiste had nothing to do with Mr. Stewart’s death.
Based on every known indication of how Batiste operated, he pulled off lucrative robberies with different players. But Batiste is dead and long gone with all his secrets. There is always a chance Batiste knew something about the murders of the wealthy businessmen.
It is possible the real killers of these two prominent men, Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart, are still out there roaming the streets of Houston.
Contact Crime Reporter Clarence Walker: [email protected]
Merry Christmas to everyone all over the world and I hope people will show mankind true love and forgiveness.
* Keisha Thomas is not the true name of the woman mentioned in this story. She was never charged with a crime and there was no reason to reveal her true identity.
Anyone with information about the murders of Carroll Oliver and Joe Stewart can contact Crime Stoppers of Houston(713-222-8477)