Tag Archives: vidor mayor

Vidor movie description

From a very old version of  a website I haven’t had in years.



The Story:
On September 1st, 1993, Bill Simpson, 36, was murdered 11 hours after leaving  the housing complex in the notoriously all white and allegedly racist town of Vidor, Texas. Simpson was the last African-American to leave Vidor after a failed government experiment in forced integration.

Because the blacks in the Vidor Housing Complex received so many death threats, Simpson’s death is shrouded in mystery and conspiracy. After a wave of criminal trials and investigations by the Beaumont Police, The FBI, The Texas Commission on Human Rights, and The Texas NAACP and The Vidor Police, most of the story’s participants were under court gag order or went into hiding.


A five year investigation by filmmaker Matt Kordelski,
now attempts to answer the question,

“What Really Happened?”


An exhaustive search has resulted in exclusive interviews with many eyewitnesses and participants, most of whom refused to speak up at the time of the murder.

The list includes Vidor residents, friends of Simpson, local and state government officials. Even representatives of the “Invisible Empire,” (Ku Klux Klan) and the right-wing Nationalist movement all agreed to speak their minds on this story.


Featured interviews include:

William Hale, Director of the The Texas Commission on Human Rights.

Richard Stewart, the Houston Chronicle reporter who covered this story from beginning to end and whose family befriended Bill.

Ross Dennis, the president of the Vidor Housing Complex Tenants’ Association.

Gerald Guilbeaux, Vidor resident who was featured on the Montel Williams Show exposé on this story.

Doris and “Skeeter” Haire, members of a Vidor Christian group that saved Simpson from a Beaumont Crack House.

Tom Oxford, attorney for East Texas Legal Services.

Mike Daniels, the lawyer who initiated the “Young vs Kemp” suit that led to the forced desegregation of 36 counties in East Texas.

Klan Grand Dragon Charles Lee and some local and regional Klansmen.

Lydia Faye Washington, the woman who saw Simpson’s murder and could identify the shooters. She gave her only interview ever for this documentary.

The Conspiracy:

For many people, Bill Simpsons death has been given an all too easy answer. Police say the death was simply a random drive-by shooting by a local Black street gang. Stories swirl around the area that the shooters knew who they were shooting, and some even say a secret witness saw a white man pull the trigger.

Simpson had received countless death threats from white supremacists in Vidor, and some of his fellow Vidor complex residents say they heard of a specific plot to kill him, which a local Klansman even boasted of participating in.
The Klan:

There were 5 known Ku Klux Klan factions operating in Vidor. The two most important were the White Camelia Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from nearby Cleveland, Texas, led by Grand Dragon Charles Lee. Lee is the Klansman whose face adorns the famous Texas Monthly cover “Vidor: Inside Texas’s most hate filled town.” Michael Lowe comes from Waco, Texas, and represents the Texas faction of the national Knights of the Ku Klux Klan operating out of Harrison, Arkansas.

Another group is located right in Vidor, The Knights of the White Kamellia. Note the different spellings of “Camellia,” a southern flower. The Vidor group uses a “K” and the Cleveland group uses a “C,” although of similar ideology, these groups are not officially aligned.

In the Summer of 1993, after the announcement that Vidor’s housing complex would be desegregated, local Klansmen and Klan supporters called in “reinforcements” from other Klan groups in Texas and the surrounding region. They organized several large rallies in Vidor and at the county courthouse in Orange, City, to generate opposition to the integration of an infamously all-white town. They were also accused of conducting and/or arranging acts of intimidation in and around Vidor to let both blacks and whites know the Klan wasn’t going to take this sitting down.

Criminal charges were filed against Klansmen from the various factions, but most were unprovable. The Camellia Klan allegedly drove their bus through the housing complex brandishing weapons. Someone hung a “White Power” sheet on a highway overpass. Threats were made to the city leaders who publicly supported integration and various anonymous threats to blow up or burn down the complex were made.

Klan leader Michael Lowe participated in a publicity stunt arranged by an Australian version of “A Current Affair” wherein Lowe showed up at Bill Simpson’s door to “talk.” Klan leaders Charles Lee and Michael Lowe were both sent to prison for short jail terms, not for any particular criminal activity but for refusing to surrender their secret membership lists.

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ based on Vidor, Texas?


Is  ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ based on a true story?

There is a critically acclaimed film out now called ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.

You might think it is based on a true story. The writer says it isn’t.


Writer Martin McDonagh says he heard about billboards ( or maybe saw them- the stories vary) somewhere “between Louisiana and Florida” criticizing the local Police about an unsolved homicide.

Well I happen to know that “somewhere between Louisiana and Florida”  is a little town called Vidor, Texas.

Vidor, Texas has had  a series of billboards on I-10 ( the main highway that leads from Lousiana through Vidor, Beaumont and then onto the mega city of Houston).

Several different billboards were placed on the roadside. The one I saw said

” Welcome to Vidor, Texas where you can get away with murdering a woman! Why? Ask Police Chief _________ ”

This was about the Kathy Page Case.




A young woman named Kathy Page died under mysterious circumstances in Vidor, Texas in 1991. Her father, James Fulton,  is convinced Kathy’s estranged husband (Steven Page) was responsible and he ( Fulton) is outraged that the Vidor Police couldn’t convict him (Page).



He paid for a series of billboards criticizing the Vidor Police.


There is an urban legend that the Vidor Area Ku Klux Klan had posted a billboard on the edge of town saying “N—ger Don’t let the sun set on you in Vidor”.  Many people say they remember this sign, and many say there are pictures of it….. but I haven’t seen them (yet).


In the acclaimed documentary ” The Thin Blue Line”  one of the characters was from vidor and they show a klan sign nailed to a tree. But its just a plank with the letters “kkk” painted on it. Not really a billboard.

I think many folks who drive past the “Murder a woman” billboard on I- 10 THINK they have seen the infamous Klan sign. But the Kathy Page case has nothing to with racism or the KKK.







I was living in Beaumont, Texas working at a TV station.  I can remember all the news stories about the desegregation of nearby Vidor Texas,  and the national hoopla when the last African American resident of the Vidor housing complex left and then was killed 12 hours later in a rough neighborhood in Beaumont, Texas.

I spent 5 years researching and shooting an independent documentary on the death of Bill Simpson.

I didn’t find the story I thought I would find. But I told truth as best I could.  I really think the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was at least partially inspired by the Kathy Page case in Vidor Texas.

The billboards at least.  The rest of that movie has NO connection to Vidor or the Page case.  Its about a mother ( not a father) of a young girl ( in the movie she seems to be between 18 to 20) who frustrated that the local police haven’t found who killed her daughter. Beyond that, there isn’t ANY connection to what happened in Vidor. None of the characters or plot points match up to the Kathy Page case.  So the billboards may have been based on the Vidor billboards, but the rest of the story is all fictional.

Here is my documentary. I cover the billboards at:  4.05

















R.I.P. Ruth Woods, Mayor of Vidor, Texas


Ruth Woods was a former Mayor of Vidor, Texas, (and was a major “character” in my documentary ” The Least of My Brothers“)  and she died Saturday, July 9th, 2016 at Harbor Hospice House in Beaumont.

You can see it here:




Ruth Woods, 82, of Beaumont, Texas died Saturday, July 9th, 2016 at Harbor Hospice House in Beaumont.



By Dan Wallach        Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Ruth Woods, who served as Vidor’s mayor for almost three years in the early 1990s and stared down the Ku Klux Klan as she fought for desegregation of public housing in her city and prevailed in a recall attempt launched by the racist group, has died. She was 82.

Woods was a month short of her 83rd birthday when she died Saturday at Harbor Hospice in Beaumont.
During her tenure as Vidor mayor, Woods battled public perception of Vidor as a racist city on a television program and in Texas Monthly magazine, in an article published in December 1993.

She also withstood threats of physical harm from the racist group whose members fought efforts to desegregate an all-white public housing complex in Vidor.

Former Mayor Larry Hunter, who preceded Woods in office, said Woods was courageous for her stand and she did the right thing and got council rallied with her.
Hunter, a lawyer in private practice in Beaumont who still lives in Vidor, said her council for the first time in the city’s history, denied a parade permit to an outside “nationalist” group that wanted to protest the desegregation order.

“It was good money spent, saying no,” Hunter said. “We were tired of being the stomping grounds for such malarkey.”
Woods, in an early 1994 article in The Enterprise, sharply criticized the tabloid TV program “A Current Affair” for a segment is showed using hidden cameras to report on a black man living in Vidor for two weeks.
Texas Monthly, in December 1993, had published a 12-page piece titled “The Most Hate-Filled Town in Texas,” referring to Vidor.
“I thought Texas Monthly was a sleaze bag and that nobody in journalism or whatever they call themselves could stoop any lower, but ‘A Current Affair’ did,” she said.
The article never mentioned the racist protests began with agitation from a klan leader based in Cleveland or that a so-called nationalist group from Mississippi sought the parade permit.
Hunter said he had run for mayor, defeating four other candidates including Woods to impose a half-cent sales tax for the city. Once he’d accomplished that, he asked Woods to run, which she did in 1991.
“I finished my term, then the roof caved in,” he said, referring to the struggles about race.