I dreamed I got up one morning and Dorothy was gone. I
checked every room in the house but she was really gone.
There was a yellow sticky note on the refrigerator door which
said "Your job is finished...Wrap it up". I thought, "But we
haven't even researched the third trial, if there was a third
trial", and the sticky note said "The third trial is
When I woke up that morning I realized Dorothy was definitely
gone: she was nowhere to be found and of course the
third trial was certainly irrelevant. We know for a fact that the
only jail time Newton Yarberry served was after his arrest
and during the trials. We know he was never convicted of the
murder of Dorothy Symons nor was anyone else. That
leaves three possibilities; there was a third trial that also
ended in a hung jury; there was a third trial in which Newton was
found to be not guilty or as Michael believes there was a new
District Attorney elected who chose not to pursue a third
trial. Anyone who wants to research this may order through their
public library the Corpus Christi Caller and Times
microfilm for the period of time beginning with April of 1933. In
the not too distant future there will be no one alive that
even remembers Dorothy or Newton and at that time the inclination
to do research will no doubt end.
With the realization that my work was basically over I found
it difficult to continue the last segment of this story. It was
almost as if I subconsciously wanted the project to continue, that
somehow I would be a less vital entity when the project
was over. When I look at the photograph of Madeleine, OSE
operative lost to the Gestapo during World War II, who
looks so much like Dorothy, I know the obsession has ended. The
book The Dead Girl by Melanie Thernstrom no longer
holds me spellbound though Bibi Lee was killed much the same way
Dorothy was by strangulation near a body of water by
her "sweetheart" who was convicted of the murder. I wish I could
give you the publisher but the book has disappeared.
From the Aransas Pass Progress. Dated: April 20, 1933;
Trial of Yarberry in Symons Murder Continued to Nov. 15.
The third trial of Newton Yarberry charged with slaying Dorothy
Symons, set for district court at Beeville Monday, was
continued until November 30. The continuance was granted on an
application of the State, based upon the illness of the
girl's mother, Mrs. F. H. Symons.
And so we wind down the story of a tragic waste of a
beautiful life; but I've saved the best evidence for the last.
Margaret Belken is a few years younger than Dorothy would have
been but lived in Aransas Pass all of her life, worked for
the Aransas Pass ISD for all of her working life, knew Dorothy
well, knew Newton well, in fact lived within sight of
Newton's home for most of her life. Margaret knew Newton until
his death in 1979. Margaret saw Newton almost every
day of his life after the trials were over.
Margaret and I had several long phone conversations about the
Dorothy mystery. Just as I had asked Jimmy Twing, I
asked Margaret if she believed that Newton had killed Dorothy.
One of her answers was "Who else could have done it?"
and that of course leads into the still unanswered bottom line
question:: Who killed Dorothy Symons?
Margaret will tell you that she knew Dorothy and that Dorothy
was a nice girl with a good reputation who did well in
school and was well liked. Margaret and her family have always
been members of the Baptist Church in Aransas Pass and
about the Yarberrys, Margaret has this to say, "They were just
not our kind of people". I think this means that they didn't
go to church, they may have used alcoholic beverages and of course
we have the newspaper report of Newton smoking
cigars at his first trial and we might even believe there was a
little "cussing" going on along with the alcohol and tobacco use.
Margaret on the other hand will tell you that Newton was well
liked at school and had a good reputation. But this is her
most interesting testimony:
Newton never held a job, never owned a car, was never seen
driving a car, never married, never went out with girls and
was seen by Margaret almost daily walking from his home to town to
the store and then back. When I began this research
I presumed that if Newton were guilty he would "distance" himself
from the crime. A killer might move to California or
leave a profession to become a wrestler, but here we have Newton
remaining for the remainder of his life within three miles
of the crime scene. This testimony raises some very basic
Was there some basic flaw within Newton that was never
explored? Was Newton mentally deficient so as to never
learn to drive nor hold a job? Were Newton's parents so afraid
for his future that they kept him within arms reach for the
rest of his life? Why did Newton never serve in the military
during World War II? What happened to this young man with
a seemingly healthy appetite for good companionship, good drinks
and good smokes that caused him to live the life of a
recluse? Could all of these questions be answered by the
possibility that this behavior was a kind of "distancing" in
from the crime? Was Dorothy pregnant? Probably we'll never know.
If plaster casts had been made of the footprints; if blood
types had been determined from the blood drops in the sand;
if witnesses who claimed to have seen Newton with Dorothy the
night she disappeared had not been impeached. If the
Yarberrys had been as poor as the Symons. So many "ifs".
I hope you have felt close to this case, felt like you were
getting up every morning and reading the news reports of the
progress of the investigation and the trials. No corrections were
made of errors in the news articles. Dorothy was never
named "Doris"; she was never a choir director; 'Dorothy's father
did not work for Humble Oil and Refining Co. and
Newton was never a barber.
Anyone wanting to continue this study might want to contact
Buddy Davis and his wife Charlene; Buddy was a close
friend of Newton and Charlene was a close friend of Dorothy.
Margaret Belken believes they are both still alive.
Margaret, by the way, was fourteen years old when the murder
happened and since it happened to and involving people
she knew well, her memory is very clear on the subject. Margaret
graduated from Aransas Pass High School in 1934 and
ten years later I graduated from Corpus Christi High School.
January 5, 2002 I received this communication from retired
British attorney, Janet Davies, who lives on the Isle of
Wight. "More thoughts: I have only this time read through word
for word, there is one I have highlighted in red here that I
think you might need to change. You will remember I have not read
the earlier Reports. My thoughts now turn to the two
sets of footprints and the defendant's foot being measured.
Question: If these two had been swimming together it might be
the case that Yarberry would be bare foot. The evidence seems to
suggest a heavier imprint of one wearing shoes. I
notice some of my earlier thoughts being mentioned in the evidence
given. No one has asked where were the clothes if this
young woman except that she may have left home with her swimsuit
under those clothes; were they ever found? Would
this suggest someone removed them, or that indeed she died in the
ocean water and was carried to where she was found
dead, which accounts for what I said earlier. The body is said to
have been found two days later. Without an autopsy is it
possible she did not die that night and could have died at the
hands of Conner, or indeed anyone else who may have been
wearing shoes. I am still not happy with the thought that the
campers who found the body have not been called in
The questions continue: Did my dad, Roy Strain, cause
Dorothy to become pregnant and then kill her rather than risk
the disgrace and loss of family and job? He was out during that
time frame and witnessed in the early morning hours in a
cafe with two friends all of whom had sand and salt water on
them. Did the unknown strangler of other women in South
Texas pick Dorothy up, after Newton stood her up for a swimming
party, and kill her? Did Tom Conner kill Dorothy?
Did Tom Conner and Newton Yarberry join together and kill
Dorothy? Did Dorothy's birth father travel to Aransas Pass
and kill her? Did Mr. Symons, Dorothy's step-father kill her or
did someone totally unknown to the investigation kill
Dorothy? You have the facts. You decide for yourself.
January 2, 2002 I received this moving communication from
Ruth Hamilton, noted British author who honored me with
a foreword for "Dorothy": "I have sat this afternoon watching
Gandhi, the second time I have endured the pain of it. There
are no tears left in me. just like the first time, I saw what my
country did to India, what Muslim did to Hindu afterwards -
and vice versa. Why it is that the road we choose to walk to God,
to goodness and eternal life - why should that cause the
most war? When I watch this film, I am overwhelmingly relieved
about my father's death.
A regular soldier who served seven years in India as a
military policeman before WW2, he would have been a part of
that filth, of the massacre of innocents, of the vainglorious
attempt of Britain to maintain power in a country so huge and
divided. Had he survived Italy, he would have dragged us to
India, would have taken his commission, might have been one
of those who shot and killed women and babies. Worse still, he
might have been one of the bastards issuing the orders.
At times like this, I do not understand the world. And what
have we learnt? Nothing. We still have people who do evil
in the name of God. Now, India and Pakistan quarrel all over
again. There is no end to it.
And was Jerusalem builded here, in England's green and
pleasant land? Was it bollox? Those arrogant, blind bastards
who tried to contain the ungovernable taught us nothing. And we
don't listen. We choose not to hear. Despair is a sin but
I cannot help it. Gandhi was shot just now on my TV screen. And
no one will ever be able to answer to my satisfaction
that monosyllabic question. Why?
Love, Ruthie xxx"
The passion that Ruth Hamilton expresses is the same passion
I feel about the murder of young girls at the hands of
predators who deny them the God given drive to procreate and
continue the species. So I'll end the story of Dorothy. I
began the story by saying this might be a love story, a story of
obsession perhaps or maybe even a story of possession;
and then again it may be just a very long obituary. There only
remains the choosing of a closing sentence and there are so
many closing sentences.
I want to say "Good-bye, Dorothy, you're gone now but I'll be
seeing you soon...we'll talk." And then I want to say,
"Adios, Dorothy, Vaya con Dios!: But I think the words that will
ring back to the beginnings of time and on into the future
of the world are the simple words of Blanco County Deputy Sheriff,
Leo Hudgens: "Why did he have to kill her, Bill?"
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