#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean
A Crime to Remember, Season 3, Episode 8, “Bye Bye Betty”
Odessa, TX, 1961:
One of the most captivating and disturbing cases I’ve watched on IDGo is that of Betty Williams. She was a high school girl who was reputed to be promiscuous and dated a lot of different boys. One of those boys was Mack Herring. After Mack broke up with her, Betty spiraled into depression. She began making comments to her friends about wishing to die so she could leave this world for a better place. She said she would take her own life, except she didn’t have the courage. She asked a few of the boys to kill her, but they refused. None of this was taken seriously by her friends.
One morning in March, 1961, Betty’s parents reported her missing when she didn’t show up for breakfast or for school. Police began interviewing her classmates. A boy named Ike Nail stated he had driven her home from drama rehearsals the night before her disappearance and dropped her off at around ten. Betty asked him to return in half an hour and meet her in the alley behind her house. He did and she climbed into his car, wearing pajamas. In a few minutes, Mack Herring pulled up behind them. Betty said, “I didn’t think he’d come. I’ve got to call his bluff, even if he kills me.” She got out of Ike’s car and into Mack’s.
Police interviewed Mack, who claimed he’d dropped Betty off at home later that night. Some of the story was inconsistent and the details did not quite add up. The detectives pushed him, and he finally broke down and told them what had happened—or at least what he claimed had happened.
He led the police to a stock pond in a secluded spot on the outskirts of the city. Once they arrived, he waded into the water. Shortly, he headed back toward them, dragging Betty’s body with him.
He claimed he had shot her because she begged him to. He said that when he picked her up that night, they drove out to the pond where they parked the car and discussed the killing. She then exited the vehicle, seeming to be happy Mack had agreed to her request. “Give me a kiss to remember you by,” he had said to her. They kissed and when she pulled away, she got down on her hands and knees and told him ‘Now’. Mack Herring raised the shotgun and fired, killing her instantly. After she was dead, he wrapped her body up, weighed it down with a heavy object, then dumped it in the stock pond.
At the hearing for Mack Herring, the defense showed Betty’s letter, which was written in her own handwriting. This is a transcript of the letter:
“I want everyone to know that what I’m about to do in no way implicates anyone else. I say this to make sure that no blame falls on anyone other than myself. I have depressing problems that concern, for the most part, myself. I’m waging a war within myself, a war to find the true me and I fear that I am losing the battle. So rather than admit defeat I’m going to beat a quick retreat into the no man’s land of death. As I have only the will and not the fortitude necessary, a friend of mine, seeing how great is my torment, has graciously consented to look after the details. His name is Mack Herring and I pray that he will not have to suffer for what he is doing for my sake. I take upon myself all blame, for there it lies, on me alone!—-Betty Williams.”
Mack was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Some people say that Betty’s request to Mack was actually a ploy to make him see how much he cared for her. She hoped he would refuse to kill her and instead declare his love. How sad and tragic. Young girls that age can be dramatic and immature. In Betty’s case, it cost her her life.
What do you think? Should Mack have been found not guilty, or should he have been punished for his crime?
To read more, check out this fascinating, detailed article that shares other notes by Betty and further information. https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/a-kiss-before-dying/