; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The 'Dog Boy' of Quitman, Arkansas

A legend about a local boy who tortured neighborhood dogs, then later imprisoned and tormented human victims, has actually been found to be true

Once thought to be an urban legend, research into the archives of local newspapers and tracking down a few local residents revealed that the 'Dog Boy' of Quitman, Arkansas actually existed.

Floyd and Alline Bettis moved into the large house in the early 1950s. The couple, childless for many years, had a son, Gerald Floyd Bettis, in 1954, according to a local historian and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette archives.

Gerald was a difficult child from early on, reported those who knew of him. "His parents were good people, but Gerald was a brat, vicious and cruel," states local Mary Nell Holabird. Bettis also developed some unusual habits early on, including collecting cats and dogs, leading to his nickname, "Dog Boy."

"He would catch stray animals and torture them. We could hear them howl, "said Holabird.

Long-time resident Nelda Kennedy agreed with Holabird's assessment of Bettis. "I had almost forgotten about all those cats and dogs he had, but he even added onto the house so he could keep more of them," she said.

Kennedy also confirmed that Bettis had difficulties at school. "Kids would pester him and take things away from him. It was like he wanted to be aggravated to get attention," she said. She cited one instance in which there was a large family reunion at Quitman City Hall. "Gerald took one of those old chaise lounges over there. You know, like the ones that the Romans would lay back on? He got some grapes and laid down on it to eat them in front of everyone, "she said.

Bettis' actions allegedly turned more sinister. "He kept his parents virtually imprisoned in the upstairs part of that house," Holabird said. "He would feed them, but only when he decided it was time for them to eat," she said. By the time he was an adult, locals say Bettis towered over his elderly parents at 6'4', and weighed close to 300 pounds. It was also regularly reported that he beat up his father and even threw him out of an upstairs window one time during his teen years. Although he was in his 70s at the time, the elder Bettis hung onto the ledge until the local police showed up, Holabird said. According to the Heber Springs Sun Times, Floyd Bettis died in 1981 after an illness at his home. Others say he was pushed down the staircase and died of a broken neck.

"I was afraid of Gerald, " Kennedy said. "If you had ever seen his eyes, they seemed to glow at night. One time he came over here and got onto us because we had trimmed a magnolia tree that overlapped into his backyard," she said. "And when they started cleaning that house up, one of his uncles came to my house to borrow a gun, because he was afraid that Gerald would get riled up," she said.

In the early 1980s, Alline Bettis fell and broke her hip, requiring a trip to the hospital. A retired nurse, Holabird witnessed Bettis' treatment of his mother. "He was slapping her around, and telling her, 'I'm going to have you arrested if you tell anyone what I did.' Not long after this incident, Alline Bettiswas placed in adult protective services and removed from the home permanently.

A little later, Gerald Bettis built a sunroom on the back of the house, and sold the plants he grew, including marijuana, Holabird said. Authorities arrested him based on this and his mother's testimony of her abuse. Bettis was put in prison in the late 1980s and died of a drug overdose, Holabird said. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette archives confirm Gerald Floyd Bettis death in May 1988 at age 34.

When Alline Bettis died in 1995, Holabird's niece, Reba Carter, inherited the house. Not long after, there was an estate sale at the house.


The terrible tale of “Dog Boy” occurred in the small town of Quitman in northern Arkansas. Inside this sleepy little town lurks the most astonishing account of terror and torture that many investigators had ever encountered. Had it not been for the actual newspaper accounts and police records, it would have been hard to fathom the degree of cruelty he rendered on his parents.

Dog Boy earned the name from his exploits at a young age, kidnapping and torturing neighborhood dogs. He was also partial to unleashing his horrible acts upon the feline species as well. While these acts in themselves are quite atrocious, no one would ever have dreamed the nightmares that would ensue. As his lust for violence grew, the size of his prey grew from simple household pets to something much more disturbing. People. What is even more unnerving about this eventual descent into the abyss of evil was that Dog Boy's human victims weren’t faceless acquaintances. The object of his disdain and experimentation fell upon the givers of his own life, his parents. He kept them as prisoners in their own home subjecting them to whatever sick and twisted violent acts he fancied. No one is exactly sure how long the abuse lasted. The testimony of the only witness, his mother, was uncertain due to the frailty of her mental capabilities after the years of torture that she and her husband had endured.

The end of this vicious tale came with the death of Dog Boy’s father. It is reported that he fell from the top of the stairwell, breaking his neck and ending his tortured existence. Locals of the small rural community believe that this was the final act of Dog Boy’s sick pursuits. They believe, and rightly so, that Dog Boy pushed his father down the stairs. Upon the discovery of the body, Arkansas State Police uncovered the shocking truth of what had transpired and freed Dog Boy’s mother from her son’s dungeon.

It is said that the house is haunted by the spirit of Gerald Bettis, and possibly by his father's spirit as well. The entity has a bad habit of moving objects around the house. An apparition of a large man dressed in a brown jacket and bow tie occasionally watches passersby from the top floor window. A medium once commented that Gerald 'cursed us and told us to leave his house.'

Log Cabin Democrat
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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