In 1967, student activist George
Vizard was slain at his convenience store job in Austin, Texas. In 1974,
Gladys Zani disappeared from her Tulsa, Oklahoma home and was never seen
again. In 1979, real estate agent A.J. Dess was robbed and murdered
while showing property to a married couple.
Responsible for these varied killings
was Robert J. Zani (son of Gladys Zani), a University of Texas graduate
and apparent psychopath. The original investigation of the Vizard case
was botched, but 14 years later Zani was convicted, thanks in part to
cooperation by Zani's Mexican wife.
Robert Joseph Zani
"Robert Zani...does more than just kill his
mother. He beats her over the head with a hammer until---well, you don't
want to hear about that. That's before he takes her and his band saw
into the basement." --- The Wall Street Journal
For thirteen bloody years, a psychopath ran loose in
Texas. His name was Robert Joseph Zani. He killed his mother. He killed
a kid in a convenience store. Then he began to terrorize Texas real
estate agents. With the help of his Mexican wife---a former prostitute
turned bruija, or witch---he carried out his bizarre scam with
cold and deadly precision.
...And Zani would have kept right on killing if it weren't for two
Austin cops who wouldn't give up...who crisscrossed Texas, Oklahoma, and
Mexico on a grotesque trail strewn with corpses. Their story is
compelling high-tension true crime at its best...a tale to give you
chills about the killers still out there among us.
Robert Zani, a UT alum, was convicted 14 years
after the July 23, 1967, murder of student activist and open member of
the Communist party, George Vizard. Vizard was found dead in the
convenience store where he worked (and where Zani once worked as well)
with one bullet in his left bicep and a second in his back.
SEX: M RACE: W TYPE: N MOTIVE:
MO: Killed his mother and
multiple robbery victims, with a preference for real estate agents
DISPOSITION: 99 years on one
count in Tex., 1981; 99 years for mother's murder in Okla., 1982
(overturned on appeal, 1986)
- Kelly Ferro: The Zani Murders
Robert Joseph Zani