Rox Burkey – Blog Place

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On a nearly moonless night in October 1943, a single gunshot rang out in Littlefield, Texas. A prominent Texas doctor and his wife were found bound, shot, beaten, and murdered. The only witness: their five-year-old daughter, who was bound to silence and refused to speak about what happened for 70 years.

The heinous crime remains unsolved. For years, the courts tried to convict one suspect, but forensic evidence contradicted the prosecution’s case. Investigators, including the famed Texas Rangers, failed to bring anyone to justice.

Eight decades later, the questions linger over the plains of the Texas Panhandle: who killed the Hunts and why?

Author and historian Christena Stephens spent more than a decade researching the Hunt murders, re-examining every twist and turn in the legal process, uncovering new evidence, and drawing new conclusions about who might have been responsible. She also convinced Jo Ann Hunt to break 70 years of silence and tell her story for the first time. Armed with Jo Ann’s account, Stephens takes the reader back to that deadly night and through the years of trauma that followed.

Why did the criminal justice system repeatedly fail to bring anyone to justice? What could have scared a 5-year-old girl into a lifetime of silence? What did investigators miss? And most importantly, who killed Roy and Mae Hunt?

Bound in Silence is a true crime tour-de-force, a meticulously researched, impeccably told tale of unsolved murder on the High Plains.


Christena Stephens conducted extensive research to write Bound in Silence, which details the brutal 1943 unsolved murders of Roy and Mae Hunt in the Texas Panhandle. The Hunt’s daughters, Jo Ann and Jane, witnessed the tragic events and survived. Jo Ann was too young, at five years old, to relate her first-hand knowledge with the investigators. Ms. Stephens interviewed Jo Ann and Jane in 2010, and they shared their harrowing experiences from that dreadful event. Her interview gives a unique perspective to the public on the crime and its lasting impact on the lives of these girls.

Stephens’ narrative skillfully paints a vivid picture of the lives of the people involved before the murders. Littlefield, Texas, was a tightly-knit community where everyone watched out for one another, and families often socialized. Dr. Roy Hunt and his charming wife were known for their hospitality, frequently hosting card games and meals with friends. The entire community was rocked by the event and the subsequent lack of justice.

The book is thoughtfully structured into logical segments that provide insights into the suspects and their interactions with the Hunts. Including photos from the era helps readers immerse themselves in a time without today’s technological advancements. As the community clamored for answers, the investigation was marked by its disjointed nature, a fact highlighted by the pictures that underscore the gaps and leads, which, in hindsight, might have led to a just outcome. Stephens also offers her perspective on the missed opportunities, contradictions, and other missteps during the investigation that could have potentially exposed the culprit.

Texas history and true crime fans will appreciate the details amassed in Bound in Silence. 


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Christena Stephens is a native Texan who grew up amongst cotton fields and spent time exploring the nature of the Llano Estacado. After earning two Master of Science degrees, she started a project to preserve a historical Texas ranch, thus began her interest in history, research, and writing. She did not intend to be a historian but was mentored by the best Texas historians. Several of her writings have been published in anthologies, along with her photographs. In science and history, truths need to be accurately told. That is her mission-truth and authenticity. She still resides on the Llano Estacado, enjoying sunsets and chance porcupine encounters. She is an ardent advocate of wildlife conservation, and her heart belongs to her dogs.




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    4 replies to "Bound in Silence"

    • Jan Sikes

      Sounds like a fascinating read, Rox! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and congrats to Christena!

      • RoxBurkey

        Hi Jan. It is amazing how far we have come with our investigative tools and processes. What a shame the two girls couldn’t take advantage of that. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Kristine Anne Hall

      Great review, Rox. And it’s KILLING ME to have this book staring at me and not a minute (yet) to read it. But oh, I will. Been fascinated with Christena’s story for years now.

      • RoxBurkey

        So glad you stopped by. I is a sad story to say the least, but the hours of research helps bring it to light.

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