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The Weidman Collection - NBC News Segments (1980, 1982-4)

Larry Weidman

Sound | 1980

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  •  Morgan City Fire, A-News, 8/15/80: Firefighters respond to a series of fires and explosions at Texaco Oil Company fueling dock in Morgan City, Louisiana. The blaze reportedly started when a tanker truck overfilled a gasoline storage tank. Three storage tanks exploded, injuring seven people and causing $1 million in damages.  
  •  Reagan in Dallas, 11th Hour, 08/22/80: Press conference with Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan about his meeting with born-again Christians in Dallas.  
  •  Gas far in Panhandle, A-News, 10/21/80: On the night of October 20, 1980, a Northern Natural Gas Company pipeline ruptured and exploded near an unmanned compressor plant in Canadian. The flames kept firefighters a half-mile away from the scene, but plant officials successfully extinguished the blaze after cutting off the gas supply. Brush fires caused by the explosion, however, continued to burn into the next day.  
  •  Ship collision, A-News, 4/1/82: On the night of March 31, 1982, a Liberian oil tanker collided with a tow boat pulling three barges in the Mississippi River near LaPlace, Louisiana. Flames engulfed the tanker Arkas, forcing crew members to abandon ship. The collision also ripped a five-by-five-foot hole in the tanker about three feet above the waterline, causing crude oil to spill from the vessel at an estimated three to four gallons a minute. One of the three barges caught fire, while the two others sank. Authorities closed a five-mile area of the river due to oil pollution concerns.  
  •  Kirkland, A-News, 5/7/82: AFL-CIO President Lake Kirkland addresses union leaders and organizers in Houston about ways to combat unemployment amid the economic downturn.  
  •  Braniff Folds, 11th Hour, 5/12/82: The scene at Houston Intercontinental Airport after Braniff International Airways abruptly suspended all operations on May 12, 1982. The Dallas-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just after midnight the following day. Thousands of passengers were left scrambling for standby seats on other airlines, while Braniff employees were told not to report to work without specific instructions.  
  •  Braniff Folds, W. Coast NN 
  •  Watts Sentencing, NN, 9/3/82: District Judge Doug Shaver sentences Coral Eugene Watts to 60 years in prison. Watts pled guilty to burglary with intent to commit murder in exchange for immunity from murder charges. He confessed to killing 13 women in Texas and Michigan, and was suspected in several other unsolved murder cases. Watts moved from Ann Arbor to Houston in March 1981. Ann Arbor police warned local authorities that they suspected him of being the “Sunday Morning Slasher.” Houston detectives reportedly kept Watts under surveillance, but failed to prevent his murder spree. Watts was arrested for assault in May 1982. In a plea bargain, Harris County District Attorney John Holmes agreed not to prosecute Watts for murder in any unsolved case he helped police solve. Watts led police to the unmarked graves of multiple victims.  
  •  Baytown Refinery Fire, 11th Hour, 7/18/82: On the evening of July 18, 1982, a fuel truck caught fire and triggered a diesel tank explosion at the Chemical Exchange Refinery in Baytown. The large blast shattered neighborhood windows and injured at least 14 people, six of whom suffered critical burns. Clouds of heavy, black smoke could be seen for miles, raising concerns about the possible spread of ammonia gas.  
  •  Tower Falls, A-News, 12/7/82: A signal tower collapses in Missouri City. The accident occurred when a gin pole being used to hoist a radio antenna atop the tower failed. The falling antenna severed a guy wire, causing a twisting motion in the tower that forced its collapse. Five construction workers—Gene Crosby, Johnnei Wilson, Donald Owens, David Stewart, and Johnnie Bratten—were strapped to the antenna at the time. Four freed themselves and jumped from the antenna as it fell, but still sustained fatal injuries. The Senior Road Tower Project, a consortium of UHF television station KTXH and nine radio stations, operated the tower. Authorities estimated the damage as between $5 million and $7 million.  
  •  Tower Collapse, ABNS, 12/7/82 
  •  Flood Blockage, ABNS, 4/1/83: Border crossings slow as Mexican customs officials confiscate grocery items purchased in Mexico by bargain-seeking American shoppers.  
  •  Murder by Audio, ABET, 4/14/83: A Brownsville jury listens to a tape recording of the deaths of Bill Staton and Leticia Castro. On July 16, 1982, the couple arrived at the home of Peter and Sherry Wolf near La Feria. Castro waited in the car while Staton went inside to visit his daughter, Melanie. He concealed a tape recorder under his shirt to gather evidence against Sherry Wolf, with whom he was engaged in a bitter custody dispute. Police found Staton and Castro’s remains in separate drainage canals on August 6. Prosecutors argued Paul Wolf bludgeoned Staton to death. An autopsy revealed Castro had been shot in the head with a shotgun. The mini-cassette recorder captured the sounds of Staton’s assault and dying breaths in the trunk of his car. The trial against Paul Wolf for Castro’s murder began on April 11, 1983. He was convicted on April 20 and given the maximum sentence of life in prison. He later pled guilty to Staton’s murder. Glenn Henderson, who helped Paul Wolf carry out the murders, also received a life sentence. Both men testified against Sherry Wolf at trial. She was found guilty of murder in the death of her ex-husband on July 29 and sentenced to life in prison.  
  •  Perdanales River Flood, 5/12/83: Rescue workers search the banks of the Pedernales River for missing campers following a flash flood. The river crested at 20 feet above normal in the early morning hours of May 11, 1983.  
  •  Hijack Hero, 8/3/83: On August 2, 1983, Cuban national Alfredo Ayala attempted to hijack a Pan Am jetliner during a flight from Miami to Houston. Passenger Spicer Lung overheard Ayala talking to crew members and quickly moved to overpower him. Lung had worked as a Pan Am catering manger until he was laid off a few weeks earlier. With the help of other passengers and a flight attendant, Lung subdued Ayala and tied him to a first-class seat. FBI agents arrested Ayala upon landing at Houston Intercontinental Airport.  
  •  Train Wreck, NN, 11/12/83: Investigators on the scene of a train derailment near Marshall. The National Transportation Safety Board believed a broken track caused the two-engine, nine-car Amtrak Eagle to derail on its way from Chicago to San Antonio. Four people were killed and two dozen were injured.  
  •  Estes Free, A-News, 11/15/83: Billie Sol Estes is released from federal prison in Big Spring.  
  •  Genene Jones Guilt, A-News, 2/15/84: A Georgetown jury finds Genene Jones guilty of the murder of 15-month-old Chelsea McCellan. Jones worked as a licensed vocational nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit at Medical Center Hospital in San Antonio and later a pediatrician’s clinic in Kerrville. She was suspected of killing dozens of infants and young children in her care by injecting them with fatal doses of paralytic drugs. Jones received a 99-year sentence for McCellan’s murder. She was indicted on five new murder charges in 2017 to prevent her early release from prison.  
 
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This compilation reel aggregates news stories produced by Larry Weidman for the NBC News Bureau in Houston between 1980 and 1984. The unofficial titles for each segment, known as slugs, were generated by Weidman. The series includes news segments about oil and gas fires, a press conference with presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, the suspension of Braniff International Airways operations, and high-profile murder trials.
A-News: News stories produced by the NBC News Affiliate Service for local affiliates
11th Hour: Late story fed to NBC affiliate stations for 10 or 11 pm newscasts
NN: NBC Nightly News
W. Coast NN: News story fed to the NBC Bureau in Burbank, California, to insert in the Nightly News rebroadcast
ABNS: Today Show news side
ABET: Early Today news side
In February 1962, the Pecos Independent published the first of four articles exposing the fraudulent dealings of businessman Billie Sol Estes. Estes, a Texas native, had built a multi-million-dollar empire of farming and real estate enterprises. As the Independent—and the myriad of investigations that followed—revealed, however, most of these endeavors were actually complex scams. From clandestine lease-back arrangements to illegal transfers to phony mortgages, Estes was implicated in frauds across four states. Evidence of bribery dragged Washington into the scandal. Three agriculture officials were fired while an assistant secretary of labor resigned. Congressional hearings also disclosed ties between Estes and then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Estes was convicted on both state and federal fraud charges in 1963 and sentenced to 24 years in prison. He was paroled in 1971 after the United States Supreme Court overturned his state conviction. Estes was convicted of tax fraud in 1979 and served four more years. The mysterious deaths of seven individuals connected to the original case kept the scandal in the news for years. In 1984, Estes alleged that Johnson had ordered the killings, disguised as suicides or accidents, to cover up his involvement in the fraud conspiracy. Estes also claimed that Johnson set up the Kennedy assassination. None of these allegations were ever proved.
TFC
1980s
1980’s
Houston
Harris County
television
tv
television news
tv news
news report
news footage
reporter
journalist
journalism
NBC News
NBC
NBC News Bureau
news story
Morgan City
Louisiana
fire
firefighting
firefighter
dock fire
explosions
oil fire
Atchafalaya River
Ronald Reagan
Reagan, Ronald
politics
politician
Dallas
Dallas County
news conference
press conference
press
religion
born again Christian
Christianity
campaign
political campaign
election
presidential election
presidential campaign
candidate
presidential candidate
presidential nominee
nominee
Republican nominee
natural gas
oil
oil industry
natural gas industry
gas fire
Canadian
Hemphill County
Northern Natural Gas Company
pipeline
natural gas pipeline
gas pipeline
ship
oil tanker
crude oil
oil spill
accident
collision
barge
Mississippi River
river
LaPlace
Lane Kirkland
Kirkland, lane
labor union
union
union leader
labor union leader
AFL-CIO
employment
unemployment
government
organizing
economy
recession
Braniff International Airways
Braniff Airways
Braniff
airline
airport
airplane
plane
aircraft
bankruptcy
Houston Intercontinental Airport
IAH
George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Harris County Courthouse
courthouse
court
trial
law
murder
murder trial
crime
homicide
homicide trial
defendant
prosecution
Coral Eugene Watts
Watts, Coral Eugene
serial killer
judge
plea
sentencing
plea bargain
plea deal
Doug Shaver
Shaver, Doug
Baytown
refinery
refinery fire
Chemical Exchange Refinery
Missouri City
Fort Bend County
construction
construction accident
accident
radio tower
television tower
signal tower
casualty
El Paso
El Paso County
Juarez
Ciudad Juarez
Mexico
border
law enforcement
international bridge
customs
Reynosa
groceries
evidence
jury
Brownsville
Cameron County
Cameron County Courthouse
Bill Staton
Staton, Bill
Leticia Castro
Castro, Leticia
Sherry Wolf
Wolf, Sherry
Paul Wolf
Wolf, Paul
Pedernales River
flood
floodwaters
flooding
Dripping Springs
Hays County
hijacking
plane hijacking
skyjacking
air piracy
suspect
Alfredo Ayala
Ayala, Alfredo
Pan Am
Spicer Lung
Lung, Spicer
Ralph Symons
Symons, Ralph
train
train accident
train derailment
derailment
Amtrak Eagle
Marshall
Harrison County
Billie Sol Estes
Estes, Billie Sol
release
parole
fraud
Big Spring
Howard County
prison
probation
Georgetown
Williamson County
Genene Jones
Jones, Genene
Williamson County Courthouse
Chelsea McClellan
McClellan, Chelsea
Ron Sutton
Sutton, Ron
prosecutor
lawyer
attorney
district attorney
Petti McClellan
McClellan, Petti
victim
Larry Weidman
Weidman, Larry