Conroe 12-year-old's 1995 murder that rocked the nation to be subject of new podcast, documentary
Houston Chronicle |
A few days before Conroe pre-teen Samuel McKay Everett was kidnapped the night of Sept. 12, 1995, his mother said he was watching television at home when an inspiration hit him.
He said to his parents “When I'm not here anymore you can find me where the words are on the rocks — Hollywood.”
“I thought ‘oh silly boy!’” Paulette Everett Norman, recently said from her home in Conroe. “Now I look at that moment differently. These words have roamed my brain for 28 years.”
The pre-teen went by his middle name McKay and his dreams of fame were cut short though the night he was kidnapped, tortured and later murdered by Hilton Crawford, a family friend he knew as “Uncle Hilty.”
It was a brutal crime that not only rocked Conroe — a town of 34,000 at the time — but the entire nation.
Not long after her son’s funeral, Norman began to get requests from movie producers, book agents and more wanting to tell her family’s story.
For 28 years she hasn’t been ready — until now.
The 72-year-old woman is working with producer through a TV/radio station in Utah on a podcast series about the crime. In January, she also filmed portions for a documentary and last fall, she filmed a segment for the show “In Your Corner” which airs on the Daystar network in Nashville.
She’s also in talks with movie producer and playwright.
“A little over three years ago I prayed,” she said. “I look back now and call it ‘The Before I Die Prayer.’ I asked God for more opportunities in radio, television, etc. Movie opportunities have surfaced throughout the years, but I declined because I did not have peace with the offers.”
In approaching her later years of life, Norman said there’s more to the story that was never brought up in the media or in court. She felt it was time for her to speak her mind after all these years.
In the mid-1990s, the Everetts were well-respected and well-liked in Conroe circles.
In a December 2022 interview, Bill Cochran Jr. said he first met the couple when they started teaching Sunday School at the First Baptist Church in Conroe. Paulette was always trying to set him up with a nice girlfriend.
Cochran eventually did marry, and his son was roughly the same age as Everett.
The same for Tommie Feagin. He was also friends with the couple and his wife, Linda, was about to give birth to their first child in September 1995.
Nothing could have prepared the close friend group for the events of September 1995.
They were all participants of the Amway program — an American multi-level marketing company that sells health, beauty and home care products. So was another friend, Hilton Crawford.
Feagin, who also was interviewed in December, said from the minute he met Crawford he felt like there was something evil about him. He even warned Cochran when Crawford would come into Cochran’s men’s store in downtown Conroe not to trust Crawford.
Crawford had previously worked in law enforcement and his wife, Connie, was an elementary school teacher whose classroom was across the hall from Norman.
Feagin said Crawford had specifically asked the Everetts to set an Amway meeting for the night of Sept. 12 saying that’s when he would be in town. “He set it up real well,” Feagin said.
Neither Cochran nor Feagin attended the meeting. Cochran was sick and Feagin opted to stay away due to a bad thunderstorm and his wife being nine months pregnant.
That night, knowing they would be a quick 10 minutes away, the Everetts let their son test his independence and stay home alone. Carl Everett called home every 30 minutes to check on how McKay was doing, she said.
When McKay did not answer the phone, his father returned home. McKay was missing and as soon as Carl entered the home the phone was ringing.
“The raspy female voice was seeking a ransom of $500,000 for the return of their son," Norman said. "It was believed that the sum was to cover Hilton’s gambling debt and to purchase a new home in the Bentwater area that Hilton and his wife, Connie had been looking at with a local Conroe realtor. No further call was received as to the location of where to leave the ransom money.”
Six days later, McKay Everett was found dead in a swamp near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Norman suffered a stroke, which impacted her speech and mobility. She also spent time in intensive therapy to work through the trauma. McKay's father, Carl, died in April 2011 at the age of 58.
In July 2003, Crawford died by lethal injection for the crime.
In the year following her son's death, Norman created the Samuel McKay Everett Foundation to teach children how to be safe around people. During the time that he was missing and after his death, she received financial contributions from all over the world. Norman used the funds to launch the nonprofit foundation.
Norman developed curriculum and videos for kindergarten through fifth grades, information is available on www.protectingchildren.com. The development of the curriculum under Norman's leadership was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education with the help of Manual Pina from Texas A&M University and his wife, Rebecca Robles-Pina from Sam Houston State University. Shepherds for the Savior, a local nonprofit, was also instrumental in funding portions of the development of the curriculum.
Norman has also authored four books and two of which concern McKay’s case, “Waltz with Insanity” and “Deadly Betrayal.” They can both be purchased on the foundation website at www.protectingchildren.com.
In the fall, she also began working on a podcast series with podcast producer Kuebrich. The podcast originated with the son of one of the FBI agents who arrested Hilton Crawford. It will be called “Ransom” and include seven to nine episodes during the series.
Kuebrich produced the podcast series “Cold” which focuses on missing persons cases.
Former KTRK ABC 13 personality Art Rascon is the narrator for the “Ransom” series. He became acquainted with Norman while covering the case in the 1990s.
They reconnected in 2022 to work on the podcast.
“Paulette is amazing. She’s a stalwart and a champion when it comes to keeping McKay’s name alive and moving forward with making sure there are ways to help his death bring improvements to society,” Rascon said. “For us to be talking about this case 30 years later it is because of her and her keeping McKay’s name alive.”