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Car Blast Victim Tied to Gambling, Part III

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1950

In the morning, gambler Nelson Harris, 34, telephoned two Fort Worth, Texas criminal attorneys and said he was on his way over to discuss a life and death matter. He and his wife Juanita, 25 and pregnant, due in a week’s time, quickly loaded into the car to drive there, but didn’t get anywhere.

The car exploded after Harris pressed its starter, killing the three of them instantly.

Minutes after the blast, which shattered windows in nearby homes and apartments, the Harrises’ home phone rang, which a neighbor answered. According to him, a man on the other end said, “Tell the ______ ______’s friends they’ll get the same,” then hung up.

Harris had been a member of the Green Dragon narcotics syndicate, for which he’d served time, and after, had owned a gambling café, Nelson’s Place, on Jacksboro Highway, dubbed the “Highway to Hell” for all the houses of vice located on it.

Police investigated multiple possible motives for the assassination. Recently, Harris had been playing and wining a lot at floating craps games in Fort Worth and Houston, which had perturbed a gambler running them. A recent tip from Harris, an informant to the feds, had led to agents raiding a Dallas narcotics ring. Harris may have known too much, as a cache of business records found among his belongings after his demise detailed payoffs to police.

No one was convicted for the Harris murders.

Sources:
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas), “Gambler and Wife Slain Here in ‘Gangland Assassination,'” Nov. 11, 1950.
Hometown by Handlebar, “Cadillacs and Caskets: Fort Worth’s Highway to Hell,” Nov. 22, 2021, hometownbyhandlebar.com.
The Independent (Long Beach, Calif.): Car Bomb Kills Gambler, Pregnant Wife,” Nov. 23, 1950.

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