365 Days of Texas True Crime: Mommy wake up
Tawny the Rock Chick here, your resident true crime aficionado. As interesting as I find true crime from all over to be, it’s the local stuff that I can really dig into. You could say I’m a bit obsessed with researching stories of murder and missing persons from this area. I’ve spent countless hours reading old newspapers articles, requesting files on cases and sifting through data cases online regarding homicide cases that you probably didn’t even know existed. This area holds more sordid secrets than you may know and I’m going to tell you about all of them, one day at a time. It’s 365 Days of Texas True Crime and todays story goes like this…..
On June 1st, 1999, William “Squeaky” Hamilton Little was executed in Huntsville, Texas for the brutal rape and murder of 23 year old Marilyn Peters.
This one is pretty cut and dry….aside from the necrophilia.
A friend of Little’s told investigators that on the night of the murder, December 2nd, 1983, he “said he was going to do something crazy like kill somebody” and he tried to dissuade him, “I told him not to,” said Joseph Alba. Joseph, a resident of Old Snake River (don’t you just love names like that) testified at trial that Little had told him that he wanted to “make love” to the pretty 23 year old Marilyn Peter. Little was a tall, pale, dark-haired man who had the looks of someone I feel like I’ve seen in a movie before, not a movie star so much as someone cast as one of the henchmen or an insignificant bully in a small town, which it turns out is exactly what he was. According to the testimony of witnesses, Little was seen at The Game Room, a pool hall right near the entrance of Old Snake River at around 7:30 p.m., already a little drunk and high from smoking just before he got there. Glenn Wesley Harwell was one of the witnesses. He was at The Pool Hall the same time as Little and testified that “He was talking crazy and trying to start fights.” Harwell ended up driving Little and his friend Joseph Alba home around 12:30 p.m., they all lived fairly close to each other, Harwell, Little and Alba, who all happen to live about two miles from the Peter residence as well. Harwell was shown a large folding blade knife at trial that he confirmed was the one he had seen Little with on the night of the murder. He said that “This is the knife he said he scalped people with when he was in New York,” “No doubt, this is the knife”.
It was the screaming of an infant that prompted the neighbors of Peter to venture over and investigate. Marilyn’s husband was out of town working on an off shore drilling rig at the time so it was just her and her 2 year old son in the home. That same day a handyman of sorts, Michael John Rammel, was to “hook up a dryer” for Mrs. Peter in a small shed behind her residence. He arrived at the home and began his work and when he was done around 10 a.m. he went to knock on the door of the home to let Mrs. Peter know that he was done. “I saw blood all along the door jam.” Rammel testified, “then I noticed a spot on the door handle.”, “I started knocking and I head a baby crying and screaming like he had been crying all night,” Rammel said. “He was hollering, Mommy wake up!”….that got me when I read that, I mean really got me.
The man said the door wasn’t locked so he opened it, put just a foot inside and saw the baby. The 2 year old boy was wearing only a diaper, sitting on the kitchen counter, crying and “throwing things on the kitchen floor.” Almost at the same time he saw the infant he spotted Mrs. Peter, naked, sprawled out on the living room floor. There was blood coming from her chest, legs, arms and it was everywhere in the living room. Mrs. Peter had 16 stab wounds in various locations on her body. Blood was everywhere, she put up a fight.
Turns out Little was wanted in Polk County, he was wanted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Department for probation violations. In 1979 he had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced by a Harris County court to six years of probation. As the 20 something officers from several different law enforcement agencies made the sweep through Old Snake River (population 200) they found Little at him home asleep. After trying to give officers a fake name and then admitting who he was, he was taken into custody and questioned. He made a confession to Texas Rangers helping with the case, “I was wondering when y’all were going to talk to me about it. I was wanting to talk to y’all”. According to Texas Rangers Little was cooperative and willing to talk, even waiving his rights to do so.
A situation that Little’s lawyers would say was coerced later in trial. Little would testify that the Rangers had made threats against him otherwise he would not have said any of what he said. Little went on to say that it was actually Marilyn who started a fight. He said that he had walked over to the Peter residence sometime after being dropped off at home by a friend from the bar. He said when he got to the house and knocked on the door “Marilyn recognize me and said, come in”. He said they chatted for a few minutes and then Mrs. Peter asked him if he wanted to smoke a joint. They both went to the bedroom to smoke and apparently ended up having “consensual” sex. The baby woke up while they were having sex and Marilyn left to go tend to her son. After she had put the child back down they had sex in the living room…according to Little. When they were all done Little said he asked to smoke another joint but Mrs. Peter told him to leave because her husband would be home soon. Little testified that he kept asking for some weed but Mrs. Peter told him she had to sell it and couldn’t just give him some, which prompted Little to demand that she give him some. He says Mrs. Peter got mad and came at him with a knife. He said he took the knife away from her and attacked her with it but doesn’t remember how many times he stuck her with the knife or where. He said “I knew it was wrong to have stabbed and cut Marilyn”.
Police would find two bags of marijuana in the same room Mrs. Peter’s body was found.
The testimony of William Hamilton Little laid out the story that he had come over to Mrs. Peter’s house in the late, late hours of the morning, was invited in, smoked some weed, for some reason engaged in consensual sex and then was attacked first by Mrs. Peter’s with a knife after becoming frustrated at his repeated requests for more weed. The Autopsy report and the testimony of the medical examiner, however, would put a damper on the fiction that Little was trying to sell the jury.
The medical examiner said he had found numerous stab wounds, bruises and abrasions and that “She was defending herself,” “She tried to avoid rape”. According to the autopsy report and the testimony of the medical examiner it was apparent that “forceful” sexual intercourse is what had actually occurred. He went on to say that “Her injuries were….inconsistent with normal sexual relations,” and that “It is my opinion that the victim was sexually assaulted”. The cause of death was five stab would to the chest, which caused bleeding and suffocation. There was also evidence that the murderer had put great pressure on her neck with his fingers and a blunt object, possibly the baby’s high chair that was found near Mrs. Peter at the scene. This could have also contributed to her death, the blood flow from her brain to her heart being restricted by the efforts to strangle her. Keep in mind her 2 year old son is in the house as this is all going on, and even though the attack left Mrs. Peter in severe pain, she lived for 30 minutes to an hour after the attack. She lay dying on the floor of her living room, with her 2 year old son, possibly wandering around her, calling out to her, crying and screaming for up to an hour before she died. The medical examiner testified that she could have been saved if she had received immediate medical attention.
Now it wasn’t talked about that I found in the newspaper articles I read, but according to txexecutions.org, Little didn’t just rape and murder Marilyn and then leave her to die on her living room floor, he raped her, stabbed her and attempted to choke her with his hands and with her baby’s high chair and then as she lay dying he raped her again before he left her to die. He did this knowing her baby was in the house and at some point would wake up and need his mother, and he did need her, like I said, he was found screaming and crying, hollering “Mommy wake up”.
Little’s trial was the first capital murder case in Liberty County since the death penalty was reinstated. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Before his execution he declined to make a last statement but told prison officials he didn’t want to cause any problems. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. on June 1st, 1999.