Her First House

Toby Futrell: Her first home was a real killer
By Wells Dunbar

Monday, Nov. 20, 2006

Part of an ongoing holiday series.

When the workload piles up at City Hall, all Austin City Manager Toby Futrell has to remember is her first house. And all the people – parts of people, really – that are buried under the basement.

It always puts things in perspective when one recollects installing their own siding – working in winter jackets to protect you from the cold. Or the fun of hosing off outdoors after a fevered, animalistic dismemberment has left you soaked in gallons of a stranger's blood.

All right, so things were a little rough at first. This was the early 1980s, and the price of housing had "shot higher than my heart rate at the thought of a fresh kill," Futrell remembers. Seizing on the opportunity for affordable housing, she responded to an advertisement for starter homes at the Red River Ranch subdivision on the outskirts of town.

Despite its unfinished nature, Futrell fell for the house, promising herself she wouldn't let it escape. Unfortunately for Realtor Steve Harris, she felt the same way. His was the first of several corpses to be interred in the grounds of the city manager's home.

Renowned for her analytical mind, Futrell spent months preparing the house for move in and optimizing her assembly line of torture. "Mutilation makes identification difficult," she said. In the case of Harris, following his dismemberment, repeated probing, and beheading, Futrell then soaked his torso in a bleach solution down to the bone. "It was actually kind of like the Intel building Downtown," Futrell jokes.

Sometimes friends could be lured over, with the promise of food or drink in exchange for helping with the house. "They ended up staying quite a long time," Futrell laughs.

Widely feared and respected as city manager, from her early haunts to today, there's one thing all can agree on about Toby Futrell: She knows where all the bodies are buried.

Next house, would her approach be any different?

"I'd use a contractor," Futrell says. "And I'll build an incinerator."

Obligatory disclaimer: As far as we know, Toby Futrell has never actually killed someone.

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