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Prescription Murder, The Joan Robinson Hill Story

Updated on August 11, 2013

Society Clipping of Joan Robinson Hill

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Family Photo, Rhea, Ash, Joan and John

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Joan Robinson

Joan Olive Robinson was born in February 1931. The details of the circumstances surrounding her birth are somewhat of a mystery. Her adoptive parents were Rhea and Ash Robinson, a wealthy couple who lived in Houston Texas. Years later when Joan became interested in who her real parents were she discovered that Ash was in fact her real father and it has been speculated that Ash either got a woman in trouble and paid her off to keep the baby or he simply paid a woman to bear his child due to the fact that his wife could not bear children of her own. Either way, Ash and Rhea were the only parents Joan ever knew. She was picked up from an adoption hospital weeks after her birth and lived as a happy and outgoing child who embraced life to the fullest with Rhea and Ash providing her with the best of everything that money could buy.

When Joan was only four years old her father took her on a pony ride and from that day on Joan was in love with horses. It was not long before Ash bought his little princess her own horse. Although she had everything a little girl could want Joan did not throw her new horse in a closet with the rest of her toys, she was dedicated to becoming an excellent horsewoman. She began winning medals and trophies from horse shows that would become part of who she was early childhood and well into adulthood, and was soon given a great build up on a regular basis in the Houston newspapers.

Joan was a society celebrity.

Joan and John Hill

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Joan Robinson Marries

Joan went away to the best schools during her teen years and as her classmates remembered, "she was the busiest girl in schcool." She kept her horses on campus as many other wealthy girls did, and she dutifully satisfied her social obligations to all. Joan enjoyed being a debutante and wore the title well.

The young socialite became briefly attracted to acting and was given rave reviews for her performances in Houston and Tampa. She was so beautiful and talented that she even attracted the attention of an MGM talent scout who offered Joan a screen test if she would fly to Hollywood. Ash was afraid that his daughter would be destroyed by show business as many other good girls had been, and since Joan was not quite 18 she followed her father's sound wishes. Then she met a man named Spike Benton, and Joan had a romance that flowered almost immediately after their initial meeting at a summer ball. She presented to Ash that he was from a good family and that his grandmother had been queen of the Mardi Gras, and besides that he had plans of becoming a pilot. Their relationship quickly grew very serious and when Spike asked Ash for his daughter
's hand, Ash pleaded that they were too young to marry. Ash pointed out that they were not financially independent and that Joan would be lonely while he was in his Navy airplanes going around the world.

In spite of Ash's protests the young couple soon married and headed to Florida, where Benton underwent flight training. Ash could not take the separation from his daughter and soon retired from the oil business to move to Pensacola with his wife so that he and Rhea could be near Joan. The marriage between Spike and Joan lasted only six months.

Joan soon met a young New Orleans lawyer named Cecil Burglass, and he even shared Joan's interest in horses. Cecil had come from a family of strong breeding and was considered to be an ideal catch for a woman of Joan's stature, but Ash was more downcast about Joan's second engagement than he had been with Spike. He put his foot down saying that he would not permit his daughter to run from the ruins of one marriage into another. Rebound romances are as perishable as gardenias, and Joan was still a minor in the eyes of the law and Ash was therefore not out of line when he said, "I forbid it."

The young couple eloped and were married at the justice of the peace. This time Ash was angry with his daughter for the first time in her life. His behavior was not 100% from anger at her disobedience, but brewed from a fear of the day that he could no longer protect her. He could not bear to see his daughter in bad situations and hoped that when Joan inevitably married it will be to a fine man who would treat her well and value her in the same way that he had.

Again Joan was married for only six months before she and Cecil were separated. With Joan being a minor celebrity in Houston society she owed an explanation to the press. Ash gave her response as being that her charming husband had a gambling problem. At the tender young age of 20 Joan was now a twice divorced woman.

A Friend with John and Joan

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Joan, John's Brother, and John

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Joan Dates and Marries for the Third Time

Joan dated a lot and was always the bell of the ball. She hit all the glamorous hot spots and dated the most eligible men in town. It appeared that Joan was getting bored with the same old scene and when she happened to meet John Hill, she was smitten.

He was unlike all the men she had been dating who seemed to be in competition for who had the best bloodlines and who was the richest. John had no blood lines and was dirt poor. Many would later call Joan's attraction to John as being her project guy. He was poor, something she was not used to, and he had to work hard to have even the simplest things in life. All things came easily to Joan, all she had to do was ask daddy, and now she and Ash could help John reach his dreams of becoming a prominent surgeon.

Ash was now trying to help his daughter achieve what she wanted in life, even if it was a man. If she wanted John Hill, then Ash would make life for the couple easier. John Hill was focused on becoming a millionaire in his own right and was grateful for the support that Ash Robinson was willing to hand out to him.

Ann Kurth

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Dr. John Hill and Ann Kurth

Married life with John was no picnic due to lack of freedom of time and John's total devotion to going to medical school to establish himself as a top plastic surgeon. Fortunately, Ash Robinson was there to fill in the gaps. He let the couple move into his home and hired servants to help them out with cooking and laundry. When the young couple's son was born, Ash personally stayed up with the infant when he cried and took on a diaper service.

As John Hill became Dr. John Hill, he became less interested in Ash Robinson, and his wife, Joan Robinson Hill. He even seemed detached from his own son.

It was soon discovered that Dr. John Hill was having an affair with a woman named Ann Kurth.

Upon discovery of the affair, Joan embarked on a self improvement regimen in which she lost weight and started to revamp her look. Ash personally pleaded with John to take better care of Joan, which John resented. John was being bombarded with ultimatums by Ann Kurth, and her non stop pleadings with him to leave his wife. Ann was deeply jealous of Joan and felt insecure by comparison to Joan's society status and her celebrity persona. Ann pressured John to dump Joan or she would run off with another man.

The complexity of John's situation took on a completely different turn when suddenly Joan was rushed to the hospital with an unknown problem. She died shortly after being admitted to the hospital and her official cause of death was a massive infection.

John's affair with Ann Kurth and his daughter's sudden death did not sit well with Ash Robinson, who had begun to say he would get even with John for killing his little girl. John's mother hated Ann and found her to be cheap and low class compared to Joan. As John prepared to marry Ann she asked her son what in the world he had seen in her and John explained that he was very attracted to Ann physically. Ann had no intention of walking away quietly.

Four years after Joan's death and John's hasty marriage to Ann Kurth, which ended in divorce in less than one year, Dr. John Hill was gunned down in his home.

John Hill's mother attempted to sue Ash Robinson for the wrongful death of her son but the case was dismissed. Ann Kurth claimed that John killed Joan by injecting fecal matter into pastries that he gave to Joan and published a best selling book on her account of John Hill.

There were two powerful books and one made for television movie made on the strange case of Dr. John Hill. One was a self serving yet entertaining book written by Ann Kurth called, Prescription Murder, in which she states that John Hill murdered Joan, and then tried to kill her, and the other is, Blood and Money, by Thomas Thompson. The made for television movie was titled, Murder in Texas which starred Farrah Fawcett as Joan Robinson Hill.



Blood and Money on Amazon

John Hill's Mother, Son and Third Wife During Testimony

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    • profile image

      LG Liang 21 months ago

      If Joan Hill was adopted, and the genetic history of her family was unknown, we will never know if she was poisoned or was genetically sick.

      Also, if she was a short woman (under 5' tall), she may have died of

      pregnancy complications.

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      Cinnamonbear 2 years ago

      Prescription Murder was an OK book, but I thought some of it was a little farfetched. The best book on this case is Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson.

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      lake 3 years ago

      Thought you might be interested in this www.annkurthunpublished.com

      Recently acquired through a storage unit lien auction in Lakeway Texas!

      Found buried in heaps of boxes and bags that due to time and weather crumbled in your hands. The amazing untold and unpublished bound drafts of the "continuation of events described in Prescription: Murder."