Serial Suicides or Land Grab for Oil Rights?


Victim #1: Janice Wilhelm

One suspicious suicide in a small town may not be unusual, but five deaths within a square mile of each other? Within a year, an oil boom hits Centerville, Texas, and the deaths are all swept under the rug. While a hand full of people get rich, the family members of the murder victims are left with nothing but questions. 

Usually, when someone writes a story, they start at the beginning of the tale. This bloody tale begins in the middle and expands exponentially in every direction. This case will take a few weeks to tell, so hold on for this Texas-sized tale of murder, forged wills, and oil wells.

December 8, 2010:

911 dispatch receives a call from Gerald Willhelm of Centerville, Texas. A strangely calm husband reports that he believes his wife has shot herself and that blood is pouring from her neck. One article states a distraught husband calls 911. I have listened to the call, and he does not sound upset at all. He says they were asleep in their recliners, and at some point, she woke up and shot herself in the neck. The authorities arrive and quickly rule the death as a suicide. Case closed. Investigation complete. Not really.

The .45 caliber bullet traveled into the neck at a downward trajectory, passing through the lungs and immediately severing the spinal cord through the 7th vertebrae causing instant paralysis. So, why do the crime scene photos show Mrs. Wilhelm’s hands neatly tucked under her lap blanket? Where did the gun land? Six feet away, the gun was lying on the floor, pointing away from her chair. The spent casing landed behind the sofa.

If Janice were a physically capable woman, she would have to hold the gun upside down, press it to her neck with her elbow wrenched out above her head. It might be possible IF you omit one crucial fact. Janice Willhelm had a tumor on her left arm the size of an orange removed a few years earlier. This surgery took much of her muscle tissue and damaged the nerves in her arm. It was physically impossible for her to hold her arm above her chest, much less over her head. This fact is more than mere conjecture on the part of grieving family members. It was corroborated by medical documentation. Janice could not have held that gun. Her daughter claims that Janice had a life-long fear of firearms and wouldn’t be holding one at all.

Gerald Willhelm claimed his wife was out of pain medication and killed herself because they couldn’t afford to get more. Crime scene photos show her medications are clearly sitting within arms reach of the recliner. To further dispel this accusation, U.P.S. had recently billed the couple for their prescription delivery service. She was on disability, and this covered most of her medications, and she had worked out a co-pay deal with the drug companies for the remainder of the fees. Janice Willhelm was not out of pain medication, and if anyone doubts this, they can refer to the toxicology reports that clearly showed the medications were in her system at the time of death.

Black Gold:

Almost immediately after his wife’s murder, Gerald Willhelm quickly pushed his wife’s Will through probate and quickly leased his wife’s land to a large oil company for drilling. Reports state the royalties of this well accounted for nearly half a million dollars within the first eight months. 

Strange, but not necessarily a crime, right? Wrong!

Janice had left behind two children, and both were suddenly written out of their mother’s will several months before her death. After fighting to get a copy of this Will, the kids were surprised to see their mother’s name. It was nothing like her signature. A child could see the differences. They send this document and several handwriting samples to two different specialists. Both adamantly claim this Will to be a forgery. Not only do they claim Janice did not sign this document, but they also say the handwriting looked more like Gerald’s.

Part 2:

Victim #2: Morris Robeson

Morris A. Robeson was a strong, strapping Texan, and a WWII Air Force veteran. Morris returned from war and started a lumber business in Centerville, Texas. He was involved in the entire process, from bidding on the trees to cutting them down, hauling the logs, and creating rough lumber in his sawmill. He would later own R.W.R. Lumber Company. This business would be the biggest employer in Leon County, Texas, during the 1950s.

After selling the company in the 1970’s, Morris and his wife Mable liked to travel in their motorhome. Morris fished the Gulf of Mexico and improved the family’s orchards. He was the epitome of a good ol’ boy with a lovely homemaker wife and two kids; Sam and Janice.

Life wouldn’t be the same for this Texas lumberman after the late 1990’s. Morris began to suffer when the vertebrae in his lower neck and upper back started to deteriorate. Then, he suffered a stroke in 1998. After this point, the once-powerful man was now unable even to lift a trimmer to clip his own stray hairs.

Despite his health problems, the family was shocked when they heard of Morris’ death on November 10, 2000. Somehow this man who could no longer lift a little plastic trimmer picked up a Colt .38 revolver with a six-inch barrel, twisted his arm up, and shot himself in the back of the head. 

Surely no one would believe such a thing, right? Wrong.

The neighbor was an off-duty Highway Patrol Officer named Joe Weaver. Weaver came over when he heard the news, and later told the family that he was suspicious of the investigation at the crime scene. While everyone immediately ruled Morris’ death as a suicide, Joe disagreed. Joe had one question for the family. Where was Gerald Wilhelm at the time of Morris Robeson’s death?

While the police department closed the case, the concerned neighbor would continue his own investigation into the suspicious death. If anyone could find Justice for Morris, it was Joe Weaver. He could if he wasn’t shot in the head ten months later. Guess what folks!? Joe’s death was ruled suicide too.

Part 3:

Victim #3: Joe Weaver

Morris’ neighbor is a highway patrol officer who stopped by the crime scene. Joe Weaver was off-duty and told the family the other officers were surprised to see him. He immediately noticed the crime scene wasn’t being handled as a homicide, but rather a suicide. Weaver was suspicious and began his own separate investigation.

Morris and his wife Mable had raised their grandson, Wayne Robeson, as their own and would treat him as their third child. Weaver spoke with Wayne and wanted to know the whereabouts of one Gerald Willhelm. Gerald has a strange story to tell, but his story will be coming later.

Morris Robeson was a veteran of WWII and had been struggling with neck and upper back pain associated with degenerative disks in his spine. This disability had reached the point where he was no longer able to trim his hair with an ear/nose trimmer.

The trimmer in question was weighed recently to give the reader a reference point. The trimmer weighed less than 2 ounces. Yet, despite the V.A. records to prove Morris Robeson’s disability, the authorities continue to label this case a suicide. The gun used to kill Morris Robeson was a .38 Colt revolver with a 6-inch barrel. This weapon was weighed as well. Its weight was just under 1lb.

If a man cannot lift 2 ounces, how can he lift a 1lb-object, twist it up behind his head, and pull the trigger?

After the death of his neighbor, Joe Weaver continued his investigation for several months, but his truth-seeking venture was cut short late in September 2001. If the Morris Robeson case wasn’t strange enough, here are the facts of the alleged suicide of Joseph Weaver.

On the day before his death, Joe’s wife picked up her daughter and their son from school. Joe’s step-daughter reported to her guidance counselor that Joe had molested her. (There has never been any proof of this claim, and it seems to just come out of the blue.) The wife tells her son to call Joe and ask him to leave the barn and go into the house. Yes, this is what it states in the report. Why was he in the barn? Why were these allegations brought up just now? Why was Joe’s young son the one who had to call his dad and tell him to leave the barn? Could Joe not decide to walk to the house on his own?

Why was he “holed-up” in his barn in the first place?

If that wasn’t unusual enough, the wife then calls Sherriff Price to go to the house and check on Joe. Price stated he arrived on-site just in time to see Joe Weaver walk slowly out of his barn and toward the house. He supposedly stopped before getting to the house, pulled out his service revolver, and killed himself. To this day, the authorities have denied all FOIA requests stating there wasn’t a police report written. No crime scene photos were taken.

This statement was proven false; however, when an anonymous witness sent a picture of the first page of the police report on Joe Weaver’s death to the family.

Snapshot of Joe Weaver Police Report sent to family anonymously

Why did Joe Weaver want to talk to Gerald Wilhelm? Why would all of this occur just a few years before the big oil boom in Centerville, Texas? Who has the farm now? How would Wilhelm con his way into the Robeson family? Why would his father-in-law be killed less than a year later? Hold on, guys. Chaos has settled down upon the Robeson farm like a tornado.


Part 4:

Part four of this saga leads us back to the beginning of this tragic tale; the strange death of disabled, Janice Robeson Wilhelm. Just to recap, Janice was found dead from a gunshot wound to her neck. She was sitting up in her recliner with her hands tucked neatly under her lap blanket.

The .45 caliber bullet entered the back left-hand side of her neck and traveled downward, passing into her lungs and severing her spinal cord, causing instant paralysis. Despite this, the authorities would have you believe that she threw the gun six feet away from her chair and tucked her hands back under her blanket.

Below are two pictures of the crime scene. The only changes that were made to these photos are the addition of the blacked-out portions hiding the graphic details of the deceased’s wounds.


Notice the following:

  • The gun is laying 6 – 8 feet away from the deceased. If this had been a suicide, then the weapon would have fallen directly beside the chair, not six feet away in front of the couch.
  • The shell casing is found several feet away behind the couch. Again, this wouldn’t be the case in a suicide. The shell casing would have landed in the chair or amongst the blankets.
  • It has been reported that the blood under the recliner was already coagulated. Why? If this happened as Gerald claimed, then the police arrived 12 – 15 minutes later, then there is no way that blood would be in such a state.
  • A gunshot residue test was done on Janice Wilhelm’s hands but was somehow lost in transit between the Dallas Medical Examiner’s office and the Leon County Sherriff’s office.

Blatant Lies:

Gerald claimed in the 911 call that Jan killed herself because she was out of pain medication, and they couldn’t afford more. This statement was proven false. The crime scene photos clearly showed Janice’s medication sitting on the table beside her chair, and the toxicology reports state she had pain meds in her system at the time of her death. Also, the children were able to prove that not only were Janice’s medicines mostly covered by Medicare, and the small remainder only amounted to a $5/month co-payment.

The report states that Janice left a suicide note. It was later determined that the so-called note was nothing more than a diary of her symptoms and the medications she had taken. These standard nursing notes were what they claimed to be a suicide note.

Final Proof of Homicide:

July 2001:

Janice Wilhelm was admitted to the Baylor Richardson Medical Center surgery. A large tumor measuring 4″ x 4 3/4″ x 3″ was removed from the upper portion of her left arm, leaving the muscular tissue and tendons severely damaged. This surgery saved her life but left her dominant arm nearly useless. Janice would no longer be able to lift her arm above her chest.

June 2015:

Vincent J.M. Di Maio, M.D., a forensic pathologist out of Dallas, reviewed Janice Wilhelm’s medical records and determined that it would be impossible for her to have committed suicide in such a manner. 

Aftermath & Motives Revealed:

The family waited for word of a will but were repeatedly told that Janice didn’t leave one. Then, suddenly within a couple of months of her death, Janice’s Will was quietly pushed through probate court.

After fighting to get a copy of her mother’s Will, Janice’s daughter was surprised at the supposed signature of her mother. It wasn’t even close to her mother’s signature, and yet there it was, and two people had witnessed it.

Finally, it was determined that both so-called witnesses had not seen Janice sign the documents at all. They were pre-signed before being presented for a witness signature. 

Why would anyone want seven acres of farmland in this area? Oil

Despite the Will being a blatant forgery and the lawsuits pending, Gerald Wilhelm signed off, and the oil companies came in. An oil well and a gas well were fully functioning within a year of Janice Wilhelm’s death. The Clayton #1H well generated $400,000 worth of royalties within the first eight months of its existence. Can we say motive?

Cold Case did a segment on this case in 2010, and Gerald Wilhelm actually agreed to an interview but refused to let it be recorded because of the pending lawsuits. Strangely, he was dead within a week after the show aired. He supposedly died of a heart attack, but there was no autopsy, and he was cremated before anyone could request one.

I wish I could say that was the end, but there are a few more twists in this homicidal tale. I will leave you with one question.

Who owns that land and oil wells now?

I will give you a hint. It’s a toss-up between a blond banker, a ranch hand, and a false witness. Mix that with an extramarital affair, a vindictive family member, and big oil, and you will have this Texas-Sized Tale.

Finale:

Last week we left wondering who in the world owns Janice Willhelm’s 7-acre farm just outside of Centerville, Texas. Her husband, Gerald Willhelm, had died mysteriously less than a week after he gave an interview to the media. While there is no one left to contest his sudden heart attack and cremation, Janice’s family still fights for justice in this greedy land grab.

Although the lawsuits were still pending, Gerald’s Will was quickly probated and pushed through the system. He left his wife’s farm to a blond banker from town and one of the witnesses that signed off on Janice’s forged Will. While the banker’s mother swears her daughter just had a “Father/Daughter” type relationship with Gerald Wilhelm, Janice’s family refused to believe such a thing. 

It will be proven in court one way or another, but in the meantime, Janice’s children are still fighting.

Janice Willhelm’s Will was a blatant forgery, and two different handwriting experts have verified this. The Will was pushed through without the children’s knowledge. This forged Will case is one battle for the Robeson family, but sadly, there is more.

Morris and his wife Mable raised their grandson as their own child and treated him accordingly. Unfortunately, this seems to have driven a wedge between their eldest son and their unofficially adopted one. Before Morris’ murder, the uncle began to wage war on the grandson, and it continues to this day. After the death, Mable sold her grandson a part of the property on the contingency that she could live out her days in the home. Of course, he agreed. This situation, unfortunately, drove the wedge deeper, causing the uncle to file lawsuit after lawsuit trying to pry the property from his nephew’s hands. 

The vindictive man even used his own mother’s name to file a lawsuit. When contacted, however, Mable was shocked by it and demanded that it be dropped. If I went into every detail of this family feud, this blog series would last for another year. After reviewing all the evidence, I am left with one question that I will relate to you.

Was this series of deaths a series of unfortunate events, or a series of homicides? 

Everyone that dives into this case too deep seems to end up in endless litigation or six feet under the Texas dirt.

The family continues to fight for justice, appealing their case up to the Texas Rangers only to hit a brick wall there as well. The only hope at this point may be the F.B.I. and the media. 


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