D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Professor and the Love Slave

The tale of a horrific and bizarre crime.

Bill Cathey in a prison photo from 2011.
Bill Cathey in a prison photo from 2011.

Glenna Whitley’s February 1993 article contains all the horrific details of the torture and humiliation that Bill Cathey subjected Wendy McKee to while holding her captive in his Sunnyvale home for two weeks in May 1991. He was a well-liked UNT professor, and she was a 22-year-old drug addict who’d had run-ins with the law. He figured no one would miss her when he talked her into his car late one night and then pulled a gun on her. He hung her naked in a closet and began a bizarre brainwashing experiment in an attempt to make her a “perfect woman.”

Read the whole thing. It’s one of D Magazine‘s 40 greatest stories.

At the time the article was published, Cathey’s whereabouts were unknown. He’d disappeared just before his trial was scheduled to begin in July 1992. It turned out that he’d gone to southeastern Oklahoma. Under the name Preston Primm, he bought 20 acres in Le Flore County and lived there, ingratiating himself to his neighbors, until April 1993. That’s when, according to the Oklahoman, Cathey ended up in a gun battle with a couple of prison guards and local policemen who were checking out a stolen car.

After his real identify was established the next day, he was charged with attempting to kill the officers (plus possession of methamphetamine.) He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison along with several other 10-year sentences on related charges. In 2006 he was convicted on a new charge of assault with intent to commit a felony and another 10 years was added to his term.

Now 72 years old, he’s at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester and scheduled to be there through April 2066, though he does have a parole hearing  set for next month. Since he was already facing life in prison for his crimes in Oklahoma, Texas prosecutors decided not to extradite Cathey to face trial for what he’d allegedly done to McKee.

As for McKee, a quick online search reveals that, unfortunately, her life continued to be a troubled one.


  • Marcus

    I have really enjoyed these stories as they’ve been posted. One suggestion – since Tim has fired himself and can’t fire anyone else, maybe he has some time to edit the online versions of the 40 Greatest. I’ve noticed a few errors in this one on pages 1 & 2.

  • jasonheid

    Each of these articles has been cleaned up and reformatted, in many cases with art added or new art produced. In this case one full missing column of text from the original issue had to be typed in.

    If you’ve spent any time looking at old (pre-2009) articles in our archives, you may have noticed that they’re not in the best shape. That’s because almost all of that copy was uploaded via page scans of old issues, a process that’s far from perfect. For instance, in many articles you’ll see the largest city in Collin County referred to as “Piano,” rather than “Plano.”

    I think I got the couple of similar mistakes I’d overlooked on pages 1 & 2 of this piece. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Jack Jett

    I have always been confused about Whitley’s association with The Swiftboating of John Kerry. Yet I have become a fan from her various appearances as a murder chatter head on the Investigative Discovery Channel. I am such a sucker for celebrities. Plus this story and concept of 40 Greatest sounds awesome. In fact this sounds like it will go so far as to make it to from toilet to pool reading.

  • Liz Anne

    Hope. The sorry bastard rots , he murdered my sister and hasn’t paid