Joseph D. Ball

Photo added by Dennis Rice

Joseph D. Ball

Serial Killer. Joe Ball was a member of a prominent family of Elmendorf, Texas. After serving in France during World War I, he came home and began selling bootleg whiskey to area residents. After Prohibition ended, Ball opened a bar on Highway 181 called the Sociable Inn. He had pretty women waiting tables and soon caught five alligators and housed them in a cement pool in back of the bar. For live entertainment, Ball would entertain his customers by throwing huge chunks of meat to the gators as well as live cats, dogs, possums, and other animals. Joe Ball was known around town as a creepy guy, someone not to cross. It was also noted that many of his waitresses seem to disappear in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. When the authorities questioned Ball, he just shrugged them off. Since there was no evidence of foul play, there was nothing the cops could do. A ghastly joke circulated around that Joe Ball must have fed the missing waitresses to his pet alligators. The police took this joke seriously enough to investigate, especially when a neighbor of Ball's complained about a foul-smelling barrel that he had dumped nearby. On September 24, 1938, the deputies came to arrest Joe Ball, who took a swig of beer, hit the NO SALE button on his cash register, grabbed a .45 from the drawer, and shot himself through the heart. Police found human flesh in the meat barrel next to the cement alligator pit and two barmaids buried nearby in shallow graves. Both of them had been romantically involved with the innkeeper. Since Joe Ball killed himself, most of the facts in this case will never be known for sure. Estimates of his number of victims run from two to as high as twenty. Since only two bodies were found, any other victims were in all likelihood fed to Ball's pet gators. His handyman, Clifford Wheeler, confessed to helping him dispose of the bodies out of fear for his own life. He served two years in prison. The five alligators were put on display in the San Antonio Zoo. The 1976 Tobe Hooper horror film Eaten Alive is loosely based on Joe Ball's story.

Bio by: Dennis Rice


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  • Created by: Dennis Rice
  • Added: 10 Jan 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7072866
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph D. Ball (7 Jan 1896–24 Sep 1938), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7072866, citing Saint Anthonys Cemetery, Elmendorf, Bexar County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Dennis Rice (contributor 46501624) .