Note: William Hudson, 33, has been charged with six counts of capital murder in the massacre of two families at a hunting campsite in the East Texas town of Tennessee Colony.
TENNESSEE COLONY – William Mitchell Hudson had a somewhat unremarkable presence in this tiny, tight-knit town off U.S. Highway 287 when he dropped out of high school in nearby Palestine after his junior year.
Neighbors, friends and classmates remember little about him except that he was athletic as a tennis and basketball player, and liked to hunt whitetail deer with his father and friends in the piney woods of East Texas. His only sibling was a sister.
Today, there isn’t a soul around who hasn’t heard of the 33-year-old Hudson, the man accused of the cold-blooded murder of six people at a campsite hard by his family’s property on Saturday, Nov. 14.
Victims included Carl Johnson, 77; his daughter, Hannah Johnson, 40; her son Kade Johnson, 6; Thomas Kamp, 46, Hannah’s fiancé, and Kamp’s sons Nathan Kamp, 23, and Austin Kamp, 21, from an earlier marriage. The Johnsons and Thomas Kamp were from suburban Dallas; Kamp’s sons were visiting from Oceanside, California.
The only survivor, Cynthia Johnson, 63, wife of Carl Johnson, identified Hudson as the executioner. She escaped death by hiding in the woods for several hours before calling the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office early Sunday morning.
Investigators said Hudson befriended the weekend campers by pulling a stuck vehicle from the mud with his tractor Saturday afternoon only to return a few hours later to socialize and drink with them.
Something went terribly wrong as nightfall occurred. Four of the victims were shot to death in the woods and their bodies found later in a pond behind Hudson’s home. Carl Johnson and his daughter Hannah were discovered inside a classic silver Airstream travel trailer. The father died of gunshot wounds and Hannah from blunt force trauma injuries.
Jessica King, a high school senior who lives next door to Hudson, told investigators she heard gunshots from the vicinity of the murders about 9 p.m. Saturday while checking on her pet pig in a backyard shed. They didn’t alarm her given the hunting season underway.
But, she added, at one point 10 to 15 shots rang out accompanied by a male voice screaming, “Stop! Stop! Please stop!” She said a few more shots followe, then silence and a truck driving away. She assumed someone was hog hunting and had an accident.
Tennessee Colony resident Charlie Smith described a youthful Hudson, who went by his middle name Mitchell, as a “nice, normal, respectful kid” who palled around with his son and other boys from rural, unincorporated Tennessee Colony, named after settlers from Tennessee who migrated to East Texas in the mid-1800s to plant cotton fields.
“He was always pleasant,” said Smith. “He comes from good family. Just really fine people. His mother is one of the sweetest people on this earth. He seemed to have a good relationship with his parents.”
Smith owns the Roundhouse Package Store in town, and that’s where he would see an adult Hudson from time to time. “He got married and seems like he even got really religious at one point.”
Oddly enough, Hudson stopped at the liquor store the day of the murders. “I wasn’t here,” said Smith. “But my employees said that he was pleasant and in a good mood while he was here. I would never have dreamed he would have done something like this.”
Other acquaintances describe Hudson as moody with a quick temper, made worse when he drinks. But few considered him a public safety risk or someone suffering from psychosis.
Hudson’s ex-wife, Catrina, felt otherwise. She married him in the summer of 2004 and gave birth to their only child, a daughter, two years later. The couple soon separated, with Catrina taking out a protective order, claiming Hudson posed a death threat to both her and their baby.
The order banned Hudson from within 1,000 feet of Catrina’s residence or work place – and further restricted him from possessing firearms or ammunition, based on his wife’s report of physical and mental abuse, causing her to be “deathly afraid of him.” She said he threatened to kill her dog of 17 years as well as her -- “and get away with it.”
Catrina said Hudson had a drinking problem and that she suspected he was also doing drugs due to his worsening temper and violence. Three reports of domestic abuse were offered as evidence of her suspicions.
A week before the campsite massacre, the sheriff’s office arrested Hudson for assaulting a young woman clerk at Kim’s gas station and convenience store in Tennessee Colony. The investigating officer’s report said the clerk had tried to warn customers not to enter the store because of Hudson’s unruly conduct, including a shoving match with a black man. A gun fell from Hudson’s clothing when he was pushed to the floor while restraining the man from departing. A co-worker called 911 and Hudson left the store, heading down U.S. 287.
A sheriff’s deputy responded to the call and pursued Hudson, pulling him over a mile from the gas station. He handcuffed Hudson, placed him in the cruiser and inspected his red pickup truck, finding .22-caliber and .45-caliber revolvers on the front seat.
The deputy described Hudson as “very uncooperative by cursing and talking very loudly” on the trip to the Anderson County Jail.
Despite dropping out of school at 17, Hudson had the smarts to pass the General Education Development test and obtain his high school diploma. He also knew his way around motors, working in the bus maintenance barn at the Palestine Independent School District for a few years.
In recent years, Hudson did chores around the family property, helping his parents keep it up and running errands. Neighbors said he was especially close to his father, William Mack Hudson, an avid outdoorsman and retired United Pacific railroad engineer who died of cancer a year ago at age 60.
A next-door neighbor, who asked to be identified only as “Heni,” described Hudson, the son, as a “nice guy” when he wasn’t drinking. She said he displayed “goofy” conduct occasionally, shooting at an old washer machine in the yard or just up in the air.
She also recalled Hudson passing out from drinking, lying on his back porch with dogs licking his face until he awoke. She said he appeared upset at times for no apparent reason.
Even though his arrests, neighbors and Hudson’s ex-wife pointed to his drinking and anger issues, no one could offer a motive as to why Hudson might murder six people he apparently did not know before Nov. 14.
Victim Thomas Kamp’s ex-wife, Carina Lujambio, offered one possible reason – the sale of the 16-acre campsite to Kamp in August, three months before the murders, by a Hudson family relative. She theorized Hudson was angry an outsider owned the campsite and its plentiful deer population. Kamp had placed a lock on a fence separating the property from the Hudson land.
Kamp told the seller he wanted the land for hunting. He and his buddies hunted deer on the land a few times after the purchase. The occasion of the fateful weekend camp outing was to hunt and celebrate Kamp’s oldest son’s impending 24th birthday on Thanksgiving Day.
Bonnie Woolverton, owner of the campsite and the cousin of Hudson’s mother, said she decided to sell the property when Hudson’s father died. She listed it on the real estate market after adjoining property owners indicated no interest in the wooded property. She said Hudson showed interest in May or June but did not have sufficient money to buy it. Nor, she said, did he ask her for financial assistance or show any signs of hard feelings when told it had been sold to Kamp.
The survivor of the campsite carnage, Cynthia Johnson, declined to discuss details of the what preceded the murders of her husband, her daughter, her grandson and the Kamps. She did allow it all seemed “like a big fantasy. It doesn’t happen to people like us – but it does.”
District Attorney Allyson Mitchell said the massacre was the “single most horrific crime” in Anderson County’s modern history. She vowed to prosecute Hudson to the “fullest extent of the law.”
Capital murder in Texas is punishable by the death penalty.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.