Also known as the Alligator Man, Joe Ball was an American serial killer who killed more than twenty women in the 1930’s.
Ball served his country in Europe during the First World War between 1914 and 1918. Once he returned home, he became a bootlegger and began selling alcohol illegally to anyone who could afford it. After the prohibition era started, he opened a saloon in Texas. This included a pond with five alligators, which is how he was given his moniker many years later.
It was during this time period that the authorities were alerted that a handful of women had gone missing from the area. Victims included girlfriends of customers and barmaids as well. Even Ball’s own wife was reported missing.
Naturally, the sheriff approached him for questioning. It was at this point that that Ball pulled a handgun from his cash till and proceeded to shoot himself in the chest. According to alternate accounts, Ball allegedly committed suicide by blowing his head off.
If he had surrendered and been tried for his crimes, Ball would have been subjected to the electric chair. Clifford Wheeler, who was apprehended as a co-conspirator, claimed that he assisted Ball in disposing the bodies of his victims. In fact, they would simply feed the corpses to the alligators that were residing in the pond. This provided them with a convenient method of getting rid of the bodies.
History has shown that serial killers in the United States have used a number of different approaches to eliminate evidence. For instance, customary ways have been simplistic and include disposing bodies at the bottom of rivers, trash cans, burying them or leaving them in remote and isolated areas, among others.
What distinguished Ball from other serial killers was the fact that he used his alligators. He would generally feed the reptiles with domestic animals like cats and dogs. However, when he began his killing spree, Ball needed a way to get rid of the bodies.
The roadhouse that he owned, called the Sociable Inn, had a cement pond. Ball had kept five fully grown alligators in it. In time, their meals also consisted of the remains of young women who Ball would kill.
Many of these unfortunate women were employees at the bar or were simply passing by. While the exact number of his victims is still unknown, what can be stated without question is the vile and outrageous method he used to do away with evidence.
In September of 1938, when police made their way to his work environment, Ball committed his final act of cowardice and instead of confessing his crimes, shot himself with his own pistol. Once a war hero, Joseph Ball died as the brutal killer of more than twenty women.