Details of Disappearance Myrtle was last seen at her home in the 800 block of Colorado Avenue in Port Arthur, Texas on September 11, 1986.
That day her husband and teenage son came home and found Myrtle's eighteen-year-old daughter, Willette Jeanice Hudson, was found in the attic above the garage. She had been bound with shoelaces and strangled with a power cord from a child's Easy Bake oven, sometime between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. She was found fully clothed and had not been sexually molested.
Willette's three-month-old sister was safe in the residence, asleep, but there was no sign of Myrtle.
The intruder(s) into the Hudson home apparently gained access by breaking a window in the front door. Drops of blood were found inside the residence. Both Myrtle's purse and Willette's were sitting out on the kitchen table, and Myrtle's keys were also left behind.
Investigators believed the motive for the crime was robbery, but the case went unsolved for over two decades.
In January 2008, authorities identified the man responsible for Willette's murder and Myrtle's disappearance: Tommy Lee Stewart. He had a violent history; he was in prison for another murder between 1971 and 1986.
After he was paroled, he went to live with a woman and frequently visited her brother, who was a neighbor of the Hudson family. In November 1986, he abducted, raped and attempted to murder a juvenile female who survived and identified him; he's been in prison ever since.
DNA placed him at the scene of Willette's death, and Stewart confessed when confronted with this evidence. He admitted killing Myrtle as well as Willette and said he left her body on Pleasure Island, the same place where he left his 1986 victim who survived.
Stewart pleaded guilty to Willette's murder, but was not prosecuted in Myrtle's case. He will not be eligible for parole until 2028, by which time he will be 78 years old.
Myrtle's body has never been recovered. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.
- Texas Department of Public Safety
Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 8, 2014; picture added, details of disappearance updated.