He didn't scream or laugh. He didn't plead or apologize.
Anthony Shore was calm, almost stoic, when he confessed to the murders - just like he was 20 years ago.
But this time, apparently, it was a lie.
Days before his aborted execution in October, the notorious Houston serial killer admitted to two more gruesome slayings in an apparent ruse to test investigators, sources familiar with the case told the Houston Chronicle this week. Now, he's scheduled to be executed Thursday in Huntsville's death chamber, leaving behind a swirl of unanswered questions.
"With a serial killer like Shore, there is always a possibility he has committed other crimes, left other unknown victims behind," said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
At the moment, prosecutors said, he's officially not a suspect in any unsolved killings and has no unresolved appeals.
After four brutal strangulations, a pair of apparently false confessions, a bizarre death row plot and a slew of creative appeals, the end of the decades-long drama may finally be in sight.
"I am relieved that he's finally going to be put to rest," his sister, Laurel Scheel, said Monday. "His expiration date is finally coming."
The serial sadist known as the Tourniquet Killer terrorized the Houston area in the 1980s and 1990s, leaving behind a trail of bodies. All girls and young women, tortured and raped.
The charismatic killer escaped detection for nearly two decades, but ultimately it was DNA - put on file after he was convicted of molesting his daughters and forced to register as a sex offender - that brought police to his door in 2003.
The former wrecker driver coolly confessed to four murders and a rape. Then, during his 2004 trial, he begged the court for a death sentence.
After nearly two decades of appeals blaming everything from ineffective lawyers to previously unrealized brain damage, the 55-year-old was slated to die by lethal injection on Oct. 18.
At the time, his youngest sister predicted he'd avoid death with a last-minute confession.
"He's good at keeping things hidden," Scheel said in October.
And sure enough, hours before the scheduled execution, a judge called it off in light of an alleged confession plot that called for him to admit to another man's crime, threatening to muddy the waters in a Montgomery County death row case and save a jailhouse friend from the death chamber.
Eventually, according to defense lawyer K. Knox Nunnally, Shore signed a statement admitting he had nothing to do with the Willis-area crime, the 1998 slaying of Melissa Trotter.
He still maintains his death row friend, Larry Swearingen, is innocent.
But, according to an unanswered Oct. 16 reprieve request sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, Shore also promised he'd give written answers "regarding his commission of other murders" to be revealed by his attorney after his death.
That never happened, Nunnally said.
Instead, the Texas Rangers showed up.
Gave incorrect details
At first, Shore wanted nothing to do with them. But the lawmen came back again and again, according to sources close to the case. Then one night, the week before he was to be put to death, he opened up.
There were others, he said. Two, to be exact.
One was Aurora Rojas, a missing mother whose skull was found in a Polk County field in 1995 - just a couple miles away from one of Shore's in-laws.
In years past, he'd already been a suspect in the case. But forensic evidence was scant, at best. Police only recovered the woman's bra and 10 percent of her skeletonized body, investigators said.
Even though the slain woman was last spotted at a bus stop blocks from where Shore worked at the time, there was never enough to tie him to the killing. Shore had a penchant for picking up women at bus stops, and Rojas fit the profile. Yet, the dump site - way out in the country - didn't quite fit Shore's pattern.
But in his last-minute confession, Shore didn't know the right details about the case, or in the other killing he confessed to - an unsolved slaying near the notorious Texas Killing Fields southeast of Houston.
He'd once been a suspect in that slaying as well. But after a busy night of examining "timelines and scientific testing," the Rangers determined he couldn't have done it, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
The next day, the lawmen returned to confront him, and he recanted.
"He was playing, just probing around," said another source familiar with the case. "With this guy, who knows what he's going to say? You know he's done more crimes than he's been caught doing. The question is what crimes and where."
'He's just crazy'
Tiffany Hall groaned when she heard of her father's apparently false confessions.
"He's just crazy," she said. "I am not shocked by his behavior. I'm just shocked anybody is listening to him."
Scheel tutted in disgust.
"He wants to know it'll all go down with him pulling the strings," she said. "As long as he's in control, he's OK with dying."
Manipulative and controlling, the erstwhile musical prodigy has shown scant concern for the killings or their consequences, until recently.
In letters to his family over the past year, he's spoken of wanting to live "a bit longer" and even hinted at remorse.
"Maybe he's just working it," Scheel said. "It's hard to know what the truth is."
But some things are certain. He's never denied the original confessions he offered up in 2003.
In 1986, he slaughtered 14-year-old Laurie Tremblay, snatching the girl on her way to the bus stop then dumping her corpse behind a Ninfa's Restaurant. Six years later, he raped and murdered 21-year-old Maria del Carmen Estrada before leaving her naked body in the drive-thru of a Spring Branch Dairy Queen.
In 1994, he killed 9-year-old Diana Rebollar. When her battered body was found, she was wearing only a black Halloween T-shirt and a ligature twisted around her neck.
Less than a year later, he murdered 16-year-old Dana Sanchez, then reportedly called a local TV station to report a serial killer on the loose.
All of the victims were raped and tortured before he strangled them with handmade tourniquets.
Even after the conviction for molesting his daughters forced him onto the sex offender registry in 1998, it took another five years before authorities finally tested cold-case evidence and matched a murder to Shore.
"I think he knew he was going to get caught," Scheel said.
Now, 15 years later, he's scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
"I think it'll happen this time," Scheel said. "But who knows, we're talking about Tony Shore."
Does she still think her brother killed anybody else?
"Hell, yeah," she said. "He's a piece of work, that boy."
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