Joseph Ball
Joe Ball
Newspaper photograph of Joseph Ball
Aliases The Alligator Man
The Bluebeard of South Texas
The Butcher of Elmendorf
Date of birth January 7, 1896
Date of death September 23, 1938
Place of death Elemendorf, Texas
Case status Unsolved
No. of victims 2-20 (0 confirmed)
Location of crimes Elemendorf, Texas

Joseph D. Ball, also commonly known as The Alligator Man, was a supposed American serial killer. He is said to have killed at least 20 women in the 1930s, however his involvement in any murder has never been determined.


After serving on the front lines in Europe during World War I, Ball started his career as a bootlegger, providing illegal liquor to those who could pay. After the end of Prohibition, he opened a saloon called the Sociable Inn in Elmendorf, Texas. He built a pond that contained five alligators and charged people to view them, especially during feeding time; the food consisted mostly of live cats and dogs.


After a while women in the area were reported missing, including barmaids, former girlfriends and his wife. When two Bexar county sheriff's deputies came to question him in 1938, Ball pulled a handgun from his cash register and killed himself. Different accounts state he shot himself in the heart or in the head.

A handyman that conspired with Ball, Clifford Wheeler, claimed to have helped Ball get rid of the bodies of two of the women he had killed. Wheeler led them to the remains of Hazel Brown and Minnie Gotthard. Wheeler told authorities that Ball murdered at least 20 other women, but the alligators had disposed of any evidence. There has never been any firm evidence that the alligators actually ate any of his victims.