Sunday, June 24, 2012

Black Sheep Sunday: Wife-Killer is Bigamist

Odessa American, December 29, 1959, p. 19
Back in April, I got to attend the Texas Library Association annual conference in Houston.  I spent some extra time in town after the conference and visited the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research of the Houston Public LibraryOne of the databases they have, that I can't access (for free) outside of a Houston Public Library branch, is the Access NewspaperARCHIVE (to which I'm considering a subscription).  I spent a lot of my day at the Clayton searching this database, particularly the name of Guokas, as my great-grandfather and his kin settled in the area in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Earlier I wrote about Gail Lee Guokas Gross (1940-1959), my second cousin once removed,  who was murdered by her husband, Harold Ray Gross, on December 26, 1959.  Imagine my surprise when I turned up the article at the left.

Turns out Mr. Gross was a bigamist - AND Gail had a son I did not know about!

Based on some of the information in this article - Gross' age, the name of his other wife, and the fact that they had two sons, plus a little research, I was able to figure out that Harold Ray Gross was born February 15, 1935, in Bell County, Texas, and died November 12, 2006, in Joshua, Johnson County, Texas.  He also apparently remarried in April, 1972 - which seems to indicate to me that he was released from prison, despite his life sentence.  Because he served in the Navy (March 1955 to July 1957), he was apparently eligible to be buried in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

I have to admit, this bothers me a little.  I mean, the man shot Gail FIVE times, and admitted to the murder, pleaded guilty, and agreed to a life sentence - yet he's buried in a national cemetery for our honored veterans?

The other surprise was learning Harold and Gail had a son, David Henry Gross.  I wasn't able to find any information about him, however, other than the article to the right.

Note at the very end of the article, it says, "The dead woman left her 17-month-old son with her mother while she went to the theater."  This told me that David was born about July, 1958.  That hasn't helped (so far) in finding out anything about him.  I have to wonder if he was adopted by one of Gail's parents (who were divorced by that time) or by her sister Jackie and her husband.  Perhaps he has the last name of Guokas, or Payne (his grandmother's maiden name), or Allumbaugh (his uncle's name), but I have not turned up any possibilities under those names (yet) either.

© Amanda Pape - 2012 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Wow! Should be some good public records available for this one. Coroners report, police files, etc. May have to use FOIA! Also interesting is the reference to the "German made .22".

  2. Another project for the retirement to-do list! I work with old Erath county records, and you're right, you can find a lot of great info in those criminal court minutes, etc.