The Hill-Robinson Murders - 1969

Mar 19, 2013 - 0 Comments

Hill and robinson

John Robert Hill and Joan Robinson-Hill

by Michael Thomas Barry

On March 19, 1969, Joan Robinson-Hill the daughter of wealthy Texas oilman Ash Robinson dies of an apparent heart attack in Houston, Texas. She and her plastic surgeon husband John Robert Hill had married in 1957. They led separate lives – he was busy with his practice and she was a keen equestrian. However, leading separate lives did not mean that Mrs. Hill wanted her husband to share the beds of other ladies. On December 3, 1968 Dr. Hill filed for divorce but back down when his wife contested the petition. In March 15, 1969 he again instigated divorce proceedings.

Two days later, she fell ill and Dr. Hill broke a cardinal rule of medical practice by treating his wife himself. After some time at home he had her admitted to a hospital, in which he had a financial interest, where she died on March 19, 1969 from an apparent heart failure. Her funeral was arranged without cause of death being properly established. Ash Robinson was unhappy and publicly accused Dr. Hill of allowing his daughter to die. In June 1969, Dr. Hill married longtime lover Ann Kurth. Mr. Robinson hired private detectives to follow him and badgered the district attorney to launch a murder case. Hill’s response was to issue suit for libel and slander. Two grand juries were assembled and failed to indict Hill but in April 1970 a third did, charging him with murder by omission.

Nine months after they married, Hill dumped the second wife and she took revenge by claiming that he had admitted killing Joan Hill. The trial opened on February 15, 1971 at Houston before Judge Fredrick Hooey. It collapsed on February 26, 1971 when Ann Kurth claimed that Hill had tried to inject her with a syringe and a mistrial was declared. The retrial was set for November 1972. Hill was not to see court. He married for a third time but on September 24, 1972 a masked gunman shot Hill dead in his home in the exclusive Houston suburb of River Oaks. The gunman was later identified as Bobby Vandiver who was paid $5,000 for the killing. Vandiver alleged that Ash Robinson had hired him but before truth could be ascertained, Vandiver was shot dead by a policeman while trying to escape. Mr. Robinson denied any knowledge of Vandiver’s accusations and when Hill’s surviving wife, Connie, and son, Robert, launched a civil suit against hin in 1977 for Hill’s death it was thrown out of court. Ash Robinson died in 1985.


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

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