The Trail Went Cold – Episode 318 – The Eleven Who Went to Heaven (Part 2)

November 15, 1971. Galveston, Texas. 15-year old Debbie Ackerman and 15-year old Maria Johnson are seen climbing into a white van outside an ice cream shop, but they never return home. Days later, the girls’ bodies are found in a bayou and they are bound, nude from the waist down and have been shot to death. After several decades, a convicted murderer named Edward Harold Bell sends out letters in which he confesses to having killed Debbie and Maria. Bell also claims to be responsible for eleven murders which occurred in Texas during the 1970s and refers to the victims as “The Eleven Who Went to Heaven”, but no conclusive evidence ever links him to these crimes. This week, “The Trail Went Cold” releases the conclusion of our extensive two-part anniversary episode on the murders of eleven female victims known as “The Eleven Who Went to Heaven”: 15-year old Debbie Ackerman, 15-year old Maria Johnson, 14-year old Rhonda Renee Johnson, 13-year old Sharon Shaw, 13-year old Colette Wilson, 19-year old Gloria Gonzales, 12-year old Brooks Bracewell, 14-year old Georgia Geer, 14-year old Brenda Jones, 16-year old Kimberley Pitchford and 12-year old Suzanne Bowers.

If you have information about any of these cases, please contact the tip line of the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office at 1-800-566-2209.

Additional Reading:

“The Eleven” Series on the A&E Network

“Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption of the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields” by Kathryn Casey

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“The Trail Went Cold” is doing a weekly livestream show on Vokl every Thursday from 7:00-8:00 PM ET as part of their “True  Crime Thursday” line-up. For more information, please visit their website.

“The Trail Went Cold” is going to be appearing on podcast row at “Crimecon UK” at the Tower Bridge, Leonardo Royal Hotel & Spa in London on June 10-11, 2023, as well as “Crimecon” at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida on September 22-24, 2023. To get a 10 % discount on the purchase of tickets to either event, please use our specialized promo  code, “COLD23”, by visiting or

The Trail Went Cold is produced and edited by Magill Foote.

All music is composed by Vince Nitro.