How Texas’s Campsite Killer Lured His Victims
By: Kate Briquelet, writes for The Daily Beast.
An arrest warrant for the East Texas man accused of butchering six campers includes shocking new details of the massacre.
The East Texas man accused of butchering a family of six threw back alcoholic drinks with his victims before luring them into the woods, police say.
William Mitchell Hudson, 33, drove a tractor to the campers’ rural property next to his family’s Tennessee Colony land sometime on Saturday. Then he helped pull their vehicle from the mud and shared drinks with them, according to a sheriff’s office arrest warrant.
Later on, Hudson accompanied several family members into the surrounding woods. Shortly after, the massacre’s sole survivor heard gunfire and saw Hudson return to the campsite alone. The warrant’s chilling details were first published by CBS 19.
The survivor, Cynthia Johnson, 63, told police Hudson then chased two of her relatives into their silver travel trailer. Johnson heard two shots and saw her husband Carl, 77, fall on the trailer steps, the warrant reveals.
“Cynthia Johnson continued to hide hearing multiple gunshots and remained in hiding until she felt it was safe to move,” a sergeant stated in the warrant.
Police responding to the scene early Sunday found the bodies of Johnson’s husband and daughter, Hannah, 40, in the trailer.
On Monday, four other bodies—including Hannah’s 6-year-old—were pulled from a pond about a half-mile away.
Before investigators arrested Hudson, they found a tractor covered with blood stains on the family property. They also spotted blood on Hudson as they spoke to him through the door of his mother’s residence, the warrant charges. Hudson’s mother lives next door to him.
Hudson refused to cooperate with police and barricaded himself inside the home until officers surrounded the property and he eventually surrendered.
According to the arrest warrant, investigators found a swath of dirt that appeared to be freshly disturbed. They also discovered tire tracks resembling that of the tractor leading up to the unearthed ground.
The affidavit provides a glimpse of the shocking attack on Carl Johnson, his daughter Hannah, and Hannah’s 6-year-old son, Kade.
Also killed were Hannah Johnson’s boyfriend, Thomas Kamp, and his two adult children from a previous marriage, Nathan and Austin, of California.
The family was celebrating Nathan Kamp’s 24th birthday during the camping trip. Thomas Kamp, 46, had recently purchased the Tennessee Colony land, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas, the Associated Press reported.
While police haven’t released a motive in the slayings, one relative said the bloodshed might have been sparked over a property dispute.
On Tuesday, Thomas Kamp’s ex-wife, Carina Kamp, told the Palestine Herald-Press that Hudson’s family sold Kamp a small piece of their more than 50 acres of land. Hudson’s father, William Mack Hudson, died shortly after the purchase, said Carina, who is the mother of Austin and Nathan. Thomas Kamp chain-locked the property after he bought it, effectively closing off the land to Hudson, the Herald-Press reported.
Carina Kamp said she was told Hudson was so angry over his father’s sell-off that he cut Kamp’s lock and regained possession of the land.
A neighbor of the Hudson family’s land told KLTV he often heard gunshots coming from their property.
“It sounded like a war zone over there. I mean automatic weapons. They would shoot all day over there,” Walter Harris said, adding that he believes the family did more than just hunt.
“They’ve about killed all the deer off around here,” Harris told the TV station. “When we moved here, there was lots of deer here. You couldn’t even go out the drive without seeing one.”
Little is known about Hudson, who is being held on $2.5 million bond for one count of murder. Authorities say they expect to charge him for all six camper deaths.
As The Daily Beast previously reported, Hudson was on the sheriff’s radar recently for an alleged assault.
“We’ve handled him for assault within the last few weeks,” Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said at a press conference Monday. “He was violent, but it wasn’t of this nature.”
Meanwhile, a former classmate told KLTV that Hudson, whom she knew as “Mitch,” became violent after his dad died of cancer last December.
“He had cancer. I know that that affected him greatly. I know that he started drinking heavily after that, and anger just progressed and got worse,” the anonymous friend said.
Former high school classmates remembered Hudson as a “goofy guy”—a class cutup who loved imitating Beavis from Beavis and Butt-head.
One high school acquaintance, Robin Swinnea, told The Daily Beast that Hudson “always pulled his shirt over his head and acted like Beavis.”
“He sure didn’t seem like he was that crazy,” Swinnea said. “You just never know what is brewing in someone… It sounds like something out of a horror film.”
“I just wanna know why,” she added.
Swinnea wasn’t the only former classmate to express shock. One former male pupil wrote on Facebook, “I remember him always laughing and joking.”
The Daily Beast has learned Hudson was once married. He also worked as a bus driver and maintenance department worker for the Winona Independent School District from 2008 to 2010, interim Superintendent Wiley Vonner said.
Vonner said the district never had problems or complaints over Hudson. He wasn’t terminated and left the job on his own, likely after he divorced a fellow school district employee, Vonner said.
“There were definitely never any acts of violence or confrontations. It was totally shocking to find out this is the same William Hudson who was once one of our employees,” Vonner told The Daily Beast.
“Thank god he wasn’t a recent school district employee,” Vonner added. “A majority of us would never think he’d do such a hideous thing.”
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