The Modern-Day Texas Slave Ranch

“We don’t bury them. We burn them.” —Walter Ellebracht Jr., clarifying a practical point on the ranch

In A Nutshell

The Ellebrachts were characters ripped straight out of a low-budget horror movie. This twisted family lived in the Texas Hill Country, chopping down trees and selling the lumber. However, their business relied on slave labor. Plenty of unlucky hitchhikers ended up on their ranch, bound in chains and forced to work . . . and not all of them survived.

The Whole Bushel

The Ellebracht clan lived in the woody hills of Kerr County, Texas during the 1980s, and when they drove into nearby Mountain Home, it was like the Sawyer family had come to town. Walter Ellebracht Sr. and his 33-year-old son, Junior, weren’t partial to baths, and they often walked around in their bare feet. The Ellebrachts made money chopping down trees and selling the wood to San Antonio businesses. They also sold little homemade key chains to nearby gas stations, and it was Ellebracht Sr.’s dream to become the “key chain king of the Texas Hill Country.” But to be a king, you need a lot of servants.

With the help of their foreman, Carlton Robert Caldwell, the Ellebrachts picked up hitchhikers and offered them lodging in exchange for work. It sounded like a good idea, but the drifters quickly found out once they checked in, they could never leave. The men were put to work chopping down trees, and at night, they were chained to their beds inside of a dilapidated, old bunkhouse. The Ellebrachts threatened their slaves with guns and knives, and when two men asked to leave, they were chained together and forced to dig their own graves.

While all the prisoners suffered, Anthony Bates had it the worst. Caldwell and Ellebracht Jr. took special pleasure in tormenting the one-eyed Alabamian and encouraged other slaves to take part. Bates was bound and zapped with an electric cattle prod. His tormentors shocked his genitals and tongue, all the while goading him to scream louder. Someone taped the torture sessions, and the recordings began with the disturbing announcement, “Live from the bunkhouse—it’s shock time!” Eventually, Bates was electrocuted to death, and his body was burned while the Ellebrachts played Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

Finally, in 1984, someone escaped from the Ellebrachts and phoned the police. Authorities swarmed the ranch on April 6, and Ellebracht Sr., Junior, and Caldwell were tried for conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder. Despite witnesses, bone fragments and the taped torture sessions, the defendants got off relatively easy. Their lawyer was Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, one of the best in the state. He had a flair for theatrics and had a member of his team shock himself with a cattle prod to prove it didn’t hurt that all that badly. Haynes played the torture tapes over and over to desensitize the jury, and he pointed out that several of the prosecution’s witnesses had also taken part in the torture sessions. Thanks to his extreme tactics, and perhaps a bigoted attitude towards homeless drifters, Ellebracht Sr. was given probation, and both Junior and Caldwell were given 15 years behind bars. Neither served their full sentence, proving Texas justice isn’t always swift and harsh.

Show Me The Proof

NY Times: A Texas Trial—Tale of Death and Torture
The Day: 3 convicted in kidnap conspiracy, some jurors wept at tapes of torture
‘Texas Slave Ranch’ offspring made the best of life

  • Olga

    I once meet the ellerbrwchts they were nice enough folk until I find out that they are human flesh that made me question their judgement

    • Jenny Mulhall

      You must be kidding?!? Details, please!

    • ShadowyOne

      Isn’t everybody human flesh?

  • tchase98

    I’ve never heard of these folks. Thanks for a interesting story.

  • Nathaniel A.

    How did someone dig this up and then get motivated to write about it? This is easily the most random bushel I have seen yet.

  • MIchigander5

    Well, Texas just got a bit scary…

    • Mikey Godsey

      I used to live in Austin, now I live in Ann Arbor. Totalllllllllllly different.

      • 33Bees

        You mean scarier.

        • Kenneth Browning

          I doubt Austin is that bad. It’s mostly a college town. But then again, their slovan is “Keep Austin Weird.”

          • Mikey Godsey

            Austin isn’t bad at all. I wouldn’t really say it’s typical of the rest of Texas the same way Ann Arbor is nothing like the rest of Michigan. They’re both super-liberal college towns but I think Ann Arbor has more of an elitist, East Coast blue blood kind of feel to it.

            And in response to 33Bees, Ann Arbor is scarier. Proximity to the ghetto is too close.

  • Scott

    “…it was Ellebracht Sr.’s dream to become the ‘key chain king of the Texas Hill Country.'”

    That is a mighty lofty goal. Talk about busting through that glass ceiling!

    • 33Bees


  • Lynch Mob! Come on now, this is a typical case for LV’s own Bro Fist Time-travellin’ Vigilante Crew. Let’s erase this nugget.

    • Kenneth Browning

      I’m down.

    • Kenneth Browning

      Oh, must erase the scumbag lawyer too.

    • Kevin Johnston

      hahaahhahha hell yah!! We r on the case. Where the f*k is Outlaw!>?

      • We won’t leave without him, no way.

        • Kevin Johnston

          hahahhaha, as one we are weak. As 3 (or 4 or 5 or whatevcer) we combine our power fists and no one stands a chance.

      • The Ou7law

        Right here brother sorry for the delay guys

    • The Ou7law

      Lol i love you man Bro fist unite

      • Right back at ya, brother.

        • The Ou7law

          Ata boy, dude and im diggin the hat i need to get me one of those

          • Kevin Johnston

            Check this hat boys lol, bro fist!..and don’t mind the old mattress haha

          • The Ou7law

            Damn son nice nice you just get done golfing lol

          • Kevin Johnston

            hahah looks like it eh. Nah i don’t play non-contact sports, I don’t see the point lol. Just rocking out like Will Smith in Baggar Vance haha

          • The Ou7law

            Lol i feel you bro

          • Kevin Johnston

            haha i got a ‘buddy’ (I actually think he’s a piece of shit) who is so good at darts, golf, bowling and curling. Put him in contact sports and he folds.

          • The Ou7law

            Straight pussy i hate that lol jk man

          • Kevin Johnston

            Here’s how I looked last week. I am a man of many hats lol

          • Dig the red walls. Mine are red and orange, looks like a brothel at night when we turn the lights on, but a cozy one, like a big square womb. Here’s an old picture, before the hat took over.

          • The Ou7law

            I was feeling left out so here is a picture of my halloween costume last year dont mind the old lady funeral wall paper i just purchased the house lol

          • It takes balls to wear an ou7fit like that brother ha ha!

          • The Ou7law

            Lol i have bull nuts man haha and nice way to spell ou7fit bro i like the way you think

          • Kevin Johnston

            so goood hahahhahahhaa

          • Kevin Johnston

            you’re a handsome fellow! no homo! lol.

          • The Ou7law

            Lol thanks for the no homo and yeah my parents did a good job

          • Kevin Johnston

            i didnt call u handsome! haha , but u certainly are! (again., no homo bro)lol

  • Sweet-Sativa

    What?! Hillbilly’s up to no good I’m shocked

  • Natasha

    Richard Haynes represented Cullen Davis, and got him off twice. To his credit, he was a great attorney. So good, a lot of assholes got off free 🙁

    • inconspicuous detective

      wonder if anyone knows that the reason the kardashians are famous is because their father is OJ’s lawyer (on the topic of good lawyers getting people off free). crazy to think right?

      • Natasha

        Wow, I didn’t know that. Yes it is!

      • Ticia

        Nope. The Kardashians got their reality show and became famous the same way Paris Hilton did, selling a sex tape that was supposedly leaked and only for Kim and Ray J’s eyes. She was just a friend of Paris and Ray J was a star on his sister Brandi’s show Moesha. They just constantly mentioned the fact who her deceased father was every chance they got while “fighting” the release of the sex tape.

  • 33Bees

    I’ll mess with Texas.

  • Ace Webb

    Pathetic. Proof that Texas is one of the dumbest states like all all the other southern states

    • Carlos Fantastico

      And you get your proof from a single event and list?

      • Kenneth Browning

        There’s many other reasons to. This just adds to the list.

      • Ace Webb

        na dude after living in arkansas, texas and oklahoma, id say i know first had. besides its a fact the south is significantly dumber than states like california. thats why silicon valley is here and not the simple south. yall can bbq yall seem to do that really well. but thats it not even good with sports

  • BourdonBee

    Why is there a picture of a sexy lady tied up when this is about male drifters being enslaved? Very misleading

  • Neil

    More reasoned I hate Texas

  • IDontUnderstandU

    No, Texas justice is just harsh for those who don’t deserve it. some of those people on strict sentences are completely innocent.

  • Forum Indo
  • forum dewasa

    hahahhaha, as one we are weak. As 3 (or 4 or 5 or whatevcer) we combine our power fists and no one stands a chance Forum Dewasa