Visitors' Guide

Get Bowled over by the best of the real Bayou City

Which proved prophetic enough last year in Galveston when Robert Durst, the cross-dresser who dismembered a body, was found not guilty of anything other than hiring a very good, very high-priced defense team.

10. Family Togetherness

Headed down to Galveston to see just where 12 jurors believed Durst to be unjustly accused? Be sure to take Ferry Road, which, as the name implies, leads you to the Bolivar Ferry.

On the way you'll pass through "Fish Village," a part of town where the streets have such names as Dolphin, Tarpon and Trout. Turn in at Marlin. And see if there's still a smell.

That's where David Sidney Hisey, a 55- year-old unemployed shrimper, killed his parents. And then lived with their decaying bodies for up to a year, according to prosecutors.

He spent their life savings and retirement income to the tune of about $8,000 a month, which we assume bought a helluva lot of room freshener.

Hisey was sentenced to 43 years in prison in 2002, but this month a state appeals court overturned the conviction. Appeals courts in Texas overturn convictions about as often as they get together to burn the flag, but they found cause to do so here.

Jurors determined that Hisey had killed at least one of his parents, but they weren't specific on which one, the appellate court ruled. "Some of the jurors could have been talking about the mother and some could have been talking about the father, so the verdict may not have been unanimous," Hisey's lawyer told the Houston Chronicle.

Jurors were unanimous, however, that Hisey was one creepy dude.

11. Don't Mind the Bright Lights, Just Confess

When it comes to creepy killers, however, Hisey can't hold a candle to Elmer Wayne Henley and Dean Corll. They are simply the crème de la creep -- and from the top of Reliant Stadium, you can see where they buried their victims!

If you insist on going by car, look for Silver Bell Street near South Main and South Post Oak. A boat-storage shed there ultimately revealed 17 of the 26 victims killed by the pair. Most of them were teenage boys who were lured by drugs and tortured before they were killed.

The boat shed is home to a famous moment in Houston criminal history. As the exhumation of bodies was going on that August day in 1973, Henley used a newsman's phone to call his mother -- on camera. "Momma, I killed Dean," he said, providing a Houston quote that in some circles is as famous as that one from Tranquillity Base.

(The newsman who lent the phone -- and then grabbed his camera -- has moved on to bigger things: Jack Cato is now Harris County treasurer.)

Somehow, the chamber of commerce doesn't push "Momma, I killed Dean" as much as it does "Houston…The Eagle has landed." And they really blew it by failing to capitalize a few years ago when Henley's paintings of delicate nature scenes -- some painted on emu eggs -- were displayed by a gallery here.

No wonder Houston isn't a tourist mecca. We don't brag enough.

12. The Palace of "Kenny Boy"

Not all crime in Houston is gory and sensationalistic. Sometimes it's white-collar and sensationalistic.

You can't visit Houston without stopping by the Enron building at 1400 Smith Street. The "crooked E" is gone, depriving you of one of the must-have photo ops of any Houston trip. In fact, anything indicating that the building might have been occupied by Enron is pretty well erased. Commercial real estate agents treat the building's history as gingerly as Galveston realtors do when talking about "the old Hisey place."

The whiff of greed is not exactly in the air, but the bold, aggressive credo of Enron is still evident. You'll see a circular walkway that connects with a new skyscraper that was supposed to hold the future Enron headquarters, with a giant trading floor ready-made for strippers and blow. The day-care center for the more responsible employees -- the ones who lost their life savings -- is still there, on street level.

The edifice is now known by its owner as the 1400 Smith building, which is about as close as you can get to the "Enron? Never Heard of It" building.

Really, it's not much of a thing to see, but come on -- you know when you get home everyone's going to ask something about Enron.

And while chances are pretty good you'll run into former company honcho Lou Pai at The Men's Club or Rick's Cabaret, it's probably safer for your marriage if you just take a photo in front of the building.

13. No Accounting for Taste

A few blocks from the former Enron building -- sorry, the 1400 Smith building -- lies Buffalo Bayou. You may see nothing but a greasy-looking, sluggish strip of water designed to hold empty liquor bottles. What you don't realize is that you're looking at the equivalent of the Seine in Paris.

That's according to the Houston Chronicle, which has been eagerly promoting development of the bayou for decades. As a result Houstonians are regularly asked to cough up tax dollars to fund yet another study showing how our unprepossessing stream can one day be turned into a riverwalk of shops, museums and bum-free shores.

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