In December 1988, the authorities came across the body of Richard Hodges, which ultimately led to the discovery that his mother was murdered as well. With two dead bodies found in different places, the police kept following the evidence to get to the people responsible. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Swamp Murders: Wrong Side of the Tracks’ chronicles how the inquiry led the police to Bert Hunter and his accomplice, Tomas Ervin. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
How Did Mildred Hodges and Richard Hodges Die?
Mildred Lorene Hodges and her son, 49-year-old Richard Earl Hodges, lived in Jefferson City, Missouri, and ran a thriving real estate business together. Richard was an only child, and his mother was quite close to her niece. The two ran the business from their home, and by all accounts, things had been great for the mother-son duo. But they met a tragic end after a horrifying sequence of events.
As per the show, Mildred was supposed to attend to some business on December 15, 1988, but the 75-year-old never showed up. The authorities checked on the Hodgeses’ household, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary from the outside. Then, on December 19, 1988, railroad workers in Marion, Missouri, found Richard’s body wrapped in plastic bags. Upon this discovery, the police entered the Hodgeses’ home and found Mildred’s decomposing body also wrapped in plastic bags. The autopsy revealed that both had died of suffocation.
Who Killed Mildred Hodges and Richard Hodges?
The family car was missing, in addition to a few other things at the house. It seemed like the motive was robbery, but the investigators still had to understand why the bodies were found in different places and who was responsible for this heinous crime. As the police continued to dig in, they located the car in January 1989 in Paducah, Kentucky, in the parking lot of an inn. It had been set on fire.
As per the show, the break in the case came when the investigators found a notepad in the house. It had an indentation of a license plate number written down, presumably by Mildred. That number led the police to Tomas Ervin, a Jefferson City local. When questioned, he claimed to have been traveling for work over the past couple of months and produced some receipts. One of them placed Tomas in Paducah the night the car was burned.
Not just that, the authorities learned of the license plate number of a Florida vehicle as part of the investigation. This number led the police to Bert Hunter, who lived in Florida then. Bert had previously been sent to prison for murdering someone in 1968 but had been on parole since 1980. When the authorities got to Bert, he was already behind bars for a parole violation. It didn’t take long for him to confess what happened in Jefferson City back in December 1988.
Bert and Tomas were friends and had planned to rob someone to make some quick money by forcing them to withdraw cash from their account. Investigation revealed that Tomas zeroed in on Mildred and Richard after seeing their car parked outside. He believed they were well off. So, sometime after noon on December 15, 1988, Bert knocked on the Hodgeses’ door pretending to be a delivery person. Mildred opened the door, and the two forced their way in. Richard, who heard his mother’s screams for help, rushed there from another part of the house.
Bert and Tomas ended up killing the mother and son by placing plastic bags over their head and suffocating them. This happened after Richard told them about not having any money. The duo returned to the house later that night and wrapped the bodies in trash bags. They first moved Richard’s body in the Hodgeses’ car and dumped it in Marion. The two then went back to do the same with Mildred’s body but left it there after it emitted a foul odor and some fluids. By then, they had ransacked the house. Tomas later burned the car down after abandoning it earlier at the inn’s parking lot in Paducah.
How Did Bert Hunter Die?
At Bert Hunter’s trial in 1989, he pleaded guilty to the murders and asked for a death sentence. It was reported that he was clinically depressed and suicidal at the time. While Bert tried for a new trial, he was unsuccessful and was put on death row. On June 28, 2000, at around 12:06 am, 53-year-old Bert was executed by lethal injection. He said before his death, “There is no justice. It’s time for this nightmare to be over, as far as I’m concerned.” On the other hand, Tomas Ervin was executed for his crime on March 28, 2001.