Hoffman's Houston
drawing interest

Ken Hoffman's sketchy connection to Houston's most famous crime artist

Ken Hoffman's sketchy connection to Houston's most famous crime artist

Lois Gibson
Lois Gibson knows how to catch a killer.  Photo courtesy of Lois Gibson

One look at my IMDb credits and it's obvious that I've had a distinguished career in television.

There was the time that I wrestled Good Morning Houston host Jan Glenn on Channel 13 — and lost.

Another time, there was a murder in West University Place and neighbors were buying guns for protection. I wrote a column saying I don't need a gun. I keep a baseball bat by my bed. CNN came to my house and interviewed me. The reporter asked to see my bat. Okay, follow me upstairs. I showed him the bat, a 32-inch Sammy Sosa model. The reporter asked if I'd get in bed, under the covers, and pretend that I heard a burglar.

I said no.

When the Houston Post closed, I was interviewed by a couple of local TV station in the paper’s parking lot. Just let me put down this cardboard box with all my work memories. A reporter asked if I had a plan for the future. I said, put it this way: "Do you want fries with that?" That clip played around the country on the late, late, late news and CBS Radio stations.

I was interviewed for a Katie Couric special on the future of American cities.

The Astros broadcast team showed a replay of me tossing out the honorary first pitch of a game at Minute Maid Park. Let the record show that I threw a perfect strike right down the middle. Did the announcers mention that? No. All they could say was "Is he wearing a bowling shirt?" (I was.)

I think the best finest TV moment was in 2004, during Super Bowl week in Houston. ABC World News Tonight asked to interview me about Houston, and asked, "Where's a good place to do the interview? I said meet me on the corner of Sage and Richmond. I made sure to stand so the big Men's Club sign was over my shoulder. I am a supporter of the arts, particularly dance. Just as the interview started, a goon from the strip club came running out waving his arms, "get outta here!" So we did. Stupid, stupid Men's Club.

This week, though, will be my crowning achievement in television. A crew from a South Korean network is coming to Houston to interview me for a feature they’re doing on Lois Gibson, the famous forensic artist for the Houston Police Department. Her work in drawing sketches of crime suspects is legendary in law enforcement. Remember that drawing of the Unabomber in a hoodie and sunglasses? That was Gibson's work. She has been named the "Most Successful Forensic Artist" by Guinness World Records for helping identify 751 criminals.

One that got away: the maniac who ran me over and never even slowed down. 

I was riding my bicycle around the block at my fall/winter home in West University Place when I heard a vehicle roar up the street behind me. I turned my head and got a glance at the driver’s face. The driver gunned the engine of his white van, smacked me dead on. It sounded like a bomb went off as I went flying into the air. I remember it vividly, like slow motion, going head over heel, landing in the gutter. This happened the middle of the day, in front of several neighbors on their front lawn. One, a firefighter, yelled to me, "Don't move!" Where was I going?

Paramedics scraped me off the pavement, strapped me on a gurney, eased me into an ambulance and took me to St. Luke’s Hospital. I was banged up pretty good. The weirdest thing happened a few days later. I was still woozy from painkillers. I stepped out of the shower, glanced in the mirror, and thought, “Did I just take a shower wearing jeans?” I didn’t. The bottom half of my body was completely bruised, black and blue.

About a week my accident (which clearly wasn’t an accident),  a similar hit-and-run happened in the Med Center. Witnesses described the same type of vehicle as hit me. Only this time, the victim was killed. Suddenly it was a homicide case, and Lois Gibson came to my house so we could construct a police sketch of the suspect.

Here’s how she does it. Gibson brought several books, filled with photos of hundreds of men They looked like high school yearbooks … if everybody in your high school had a mug shot and prison record. I was looking at hardened convicts so the police could catch a murderer.

Facial feature by feature, I’d pick out a nose, hairline, eyes, eyebrows, lips, ears. During all this, Gibson was asking me questions about where I grew up, my dog’s name, just chitchat to relax me. She should have a talk show. About 30 minutes later, Gibson turned her sketch pad around and there he was — the guy who ran me over.

They never found the person who clobbered me in West U and later killed a doctor in the Med Center. Since then, wherever it’s possible, I ride my bike on the wrong side of the street, against traffic. I know this is against the law. But if someone is going to run me over, I want a good look at his face.

I see too many “ghost bicycles” commemorating bike riders killed in Houston.

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