THE DECKER HILTON

Discover One Man’s Journey Inside The Decker Hilton

I returned to my native Texas this past summer to visit a murderer I met in the Dallas County Jail fifty years ago. For me it was a necessary, difficult act of verification, a return to the scariest experience of my life, when my soul was up for grabs. I'm almost seventy now, and my life has been blessed, with family, children, success in music and finance. None of that would have been possible had I not made it through those six months at the Decker Hilton in 1969. No experience has shaped me more. My memoir tells the story of this crash course in good and evil. It's about wrongful imprisonment, violence, faith, and hope. It has all the flavor of Texas in the late sixties. And at the heart of it is a remarkable friendship between me, a white teenager from humble roots, and a seasoned older black inmate who saved my life at a time when the racial divide in our country was at its deadliest.


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*This is an unpublished manuscript (PDF version only)

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About The Decker Hilton

“It was dark and cold, but I was feverish. My eyes were blurred and aching from fear and crying. My mind kept screaming, ‘Think!’ but my head was pounding and my right leg was throbbing with short waves of pain that kept shooting up into my brain. I fluctuated between total exhaustion and anxiety one minute and complete and utter despair the next. I couldn’t stand or even lift myself off the cement floor I was lying on. I had never felt so hopeless or totally alone. There was no way out. There was no one to talk to or reason with, no one to help.”


An account of the injustice and cruelty of a corrupt judicial/incarceration system that tests will, beliefs, faith, and courage. A story that conveys the need to remain ever vigilant in the face of forces that refute life and feed upon hatred and eradication of love. From dark and cold to uplifting and inspirational, this is a must-read.

*This is an unpublished manuscript (PDF version only)

About Wesley V. Pritchett

Within a year of Wes’ release from jail, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his rock and roll dreams where he recorded multiple albums and worked with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, and David Carradine (KungFu, Kill Bill) to name a few. In time, he started a very successful jewelry company specializing in American Indian Jewelry. Later, he formed a ‘Reichian’ therapy center and became a therapist.

In the 1980s, Wes left the world of rock and roll, jewelry and therapy behind and entered the world of Wall Street, ultimately becoming a member on some of the biggest commodity, equity, and options exchanges in the world.

After a successful 25-year career in trading and finance, Wes finally retired from Wall Street and began pursuing his next great adventure as an author. Decker Hilton is the first in a series of three books. Wesley Pritchett currently lives in Miami, Florida with his beautiful wife, two dogs, and cat. He has been blessed with six amazing children, Jeramy, Romney, Wes, Nicole, Winnie, and Roy.

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About the Editor

Cullen Thomas is the author of Brother One Cell, a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book and recommended reading by Lonely Planet. His stories about meeting the president, young militants, classical musicians, crime and punishment, foreign affairs, interviews with authors, and other subjects have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Foreign Policy, USA Today, the Daily Beast, and The Rumpus, among other publications. He teaches writing and literature at New York University and has ghostwritten and edited books for major publishers and clients. He has also appeared as a talking head on the National Geographic Channel, MSNBC, and CNN.

“Reading this book is like sitting on the front porch of your grandpa’s house as he tells you his story of love, freedom, and surrender. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for a true narrative that will leave you feeling surprised and grateful.”

– Winnie Anne

“A compelling thriller that reads like a combination of The Shawshank Redemption and Midnight Express. The writing is crisp; I felt as though I was alongside the main characters for the ride, which was unexpected considering it is a true story/autobiography set in the 1960’s. I ripped through the book in two days unable to put it down.”

– Alexander C. Lange, President ABN AMRO Securities (USA) LLC

“Wes Pritchett’s true story of injustice, desperation, and near capitulation conjures up some of our worst fears. That he found, or, more accurately, was granted, a way out at the last possible moment is inspirational. This was an engaging read with an uplifting ending.”

– Brian Tague, Attorney Akerman LLP

“I have known Wes Pritchett for a long time. He is a role model citizen and someone that is looked up to with great respect, by everyone he knows. His life story is one of reflection, redemption, rejuvenation and plain old hard work. It’s a very inspirational story of someone headed down the wrong path in life, who completely turned their life around. Some great life lessons that everyone can...

– Charlie Johnston, Former CEO of Smith Barney and President of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

“This is an extraordinary and riveting early life story, hard to put down, with twists and turns that keep the reader engaged. Written well, Pritchett reaches depths of despair that are palpable to the reader. At the same time there is always a sense of hope and even humor. The journey starts abruptly and takes us on a scary and shocking path. Pritchett writes with a natural ease and flow....

– Claire Amerena London

“Numerous authors have written about injustice, the power of faith, the will to survive against immense diversity, and the endurance to over and over again say, “YES!” to life. We need such stories and Wes’s is another one, this by a first-time author, who in a most engaging way, displays his remarkable talent for storytelling – for “teachin’, not preachin’”! I’ve learned so much from Wes about the goodness and...

– Francis Pinto, Musician And Founder of The Jazz Anarchists

“For me, good writing results in my being transported to the place being portrayed—it’s physical location, and, if I’m lucky, the emotional experience of participants in the action. Wes Pritchett’s ‘s book, Decker Hilton, is good writing. Mr Pritchett captures the horrors of incarceration and the grit of the act of trying and trying not to give up. He gave me an opportunity to be with him through his life...

– Lee Rassnick, Independent Law Practice Professional

“Greetings Wes, Parker forwarded your book to me…..and I read the complete story. I marvel at your strength, fortitude and ‘never give-in’ thinking. The ‘Gods’ were with you many steps along the way – especially meeting your beautiful Winnie. Thank you so very much for sharing with us. We are leaving on Sunday for a long cruise to Iceland & on to Europe….back end of August, so Parker will have...

– Nancy Parker

I was really intrigued by the history you mentioned in the book. It caused me to do some more research on the prison and how people were treated back then. I also appreciated your vivid descriptions of prison life and how you were treated.  It caused me to sympathize with you as a character and feel anger about the injustice you had to endure. I was also happy that you...

- Caroline

“Once I started reading this book, I found it to be compelling! It is a highly riveting piece of work. Extremely powerful! I thoroughly enjoyed this emotionally charged and inspiring story line. It provokes positive feelings of hope, persistence and perseverance as well as a perspective of disappointment, injustice, Inequity, and utter despair! The life experiences reflect the ups and downs to which we are all subjected as individuals. The...

Edward P. Rundle

“Throughout it all while struggling with his self-reliance, Wes manages to stay true to himself and somehow manages among the struggle for injustice to find the will power to pursue all obstacles with poise and dignity. An inspirational memoir that taps into the heart of the matter and empowers the reader to keep striving and have hope whenever everything seems pointless and to once again find happiness and blessings more...

Madeline Gonzalez, Director Executive Patient Services University of Miami UHealth Champions

Wes takes us on his riveting real life drama and shares the different paths our lives can so easily take. It’s a courageous story that reminds we are all a sum of our experiences. A must-read.  

Jeff Casale, President DTS Group, Dell Technologies

Wow, what a compelling and very fascinating story. Every page, every chapter, tells of suspenseful, dramatic events. The struggle to survive in a place that is dark, full of surprises, and tests the character of a young boy, incarcerated for the wrong reasons. I highly recommend everyone reading this, and I wish I could afford to buy the movie rights. Congratulations to Wes.

Alex Lange, Retired Commercial Architect for Parsons, Washington, D.C

Wow! I have known Wes for most of my adult life, being married to his brother. This book made it hard for me to put down. So perfectly written and made me feel as though I was there with him telling his story. I can’t wait to read more!  

Tracy Pritchett

I couldn’t put down The Decker Hilton!  Reading Wes Pritchett’s story felt like I was sitting with him having a most interesting and authentic conversation about his harrowing experiences in jail.  His book provides a rare opportunity for a peek into his life behind bars….how he endured it and what he learned from it. I highly recommend this book.  

Diann Newman, Ed.D. , Vice Dean Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

I was honored and humbled to have read you story. I kept thinking, well, a million things, but thought about the 8 months and the one month that you must have needed to start your recovery and new life and thought…wow that was like a gestation period, 9 months, enough time for a rebirth.   I have had images in my head of you at that time, of the horrific struggle...

Geralyn Marchisello, MS Spine & Soul New York, Spine and Soul www.spineandsoul.com

I highly recommend The Decker Hilton. Wes describes in detail how he grapples with his experience in jail and every moment of despair and hope is felt deeply. I couldn’t put the book down.

Alexa Casale, Teacher at Rockership Education

Reading The Decker Hilton is a life-changing experience. I know I’m not the only one who feels grateful to Wes for having the courage to peel away the most private layers of this tumultuous period in his life to share his story with us. It’s hard to believe this is non-fiction. Thank you Wes!

Boo Zamek, Principal and co-founder of Meredith & Boo.

Just as life will find a way, so will the spirit. From the depths of desperation will come a lifeline, if only you will grasp it. Decker Hilton is an uplifting reminder. A must read.

Mary M Tague, Toy Town

The Decker Hilton is a captivating book! It’s a tale of how lifes choices (active and/or passive) juxtaposed on the social & racial issues of the late 1960s, affected one man’s life. Thank you for sharing the story and hopefully, there are more to come!  

Peter Paruch, JP Morgan Executive Director Corporate Derivative Marketing, Interest Rate Risk Management

I read The Decker Hilton in a little more than a day, as I couldn’t put it down. It is well written, and Wes has a gift for storytelling. Like Wes, I was also incarcerated as a teenager almost 50 years ago and had similar experiences, so I know his words ring true.

Curtis Sitterson, attorney at Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A

As someone who doesn’t read as often as I should, I must first say that I really enjoyed Wes Pritchett’s “easy read” style of writing. However, it wasn’t just the style of writing that made this book an easy read. The stories told and the life lessons taught throughout piqued my interest from cover-to-cover (I read the book in 3 days). This story about a young man’s journey through “life’s...

Keith Nateman, Entrepreneur

What a fascinating read, hard to put it down. A huge thank you for the author Wes to share his impactful story!  I will be sending this book to my children and close family and friends so they can also see the world through the eyes of this story.  It is well written, concise and left me with a deep insight and an urge to also contemplate on my own...

Heidy Frank , Mother, Entrepreneur, Banker and Consultant

Wes, I read your story and I couldn’t believe what I was reading!  That you had to go through such a nightmare broke my heart.  I couldn’t wait to see how your life turned out and I’m so happy all of your dreams came true.  I think you have a best seller. Sometimes we have to go through rough times in order to be broken open and only then can...

Gayle Cole

I started to read the Decker Hilton not knowing what to expect, and two days later I did not want the story to end. It is a fascinating story with many levels of a simple message, not to judge a book by its cover. The author’s reflective journey to a hurtful past provides the reader with first-hand experience of the gains and pains of our essential humanity and unjust society....

Juan Castaneda, Executive Director at J.P. Morgan • Miami, Florida

Neither my eyes or heart could let me put this story down. There’s so much to say about it, but most of all, thank you to the author for lifting the veils for a glimpse into a journey leading to an extraordinary encounter that requires great love and courage to share. Beautifully written. A million-star review. Five would never be enough.

Moe Ross, CEO Miograohies.com

My dear good friend Wesley. We met each other for the first time in 1984 when I came over from Amsterdam where I was working as a floor trader, to work on the floor of the Comex (commodity exchange) in New York. After you and Winnie moved to Chicago and you began trading on the floor of the CBOE and CBOT, we met again and not too long after that, ...

Jaap Hoff, The Netherlands

  “The Decker Hilton is a surprisingly powerful story of survival, resiliency, and faith.  Like the prison it portrays, Wes Pritchett’s simple and direct style, captured me from the start and wouldn’t let me go. ” Tom Shadyac’s writing/directing career was launched in 1994 with the Jim Carrey smash hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. In the years that followed, Shadyac would establish himself as one of the most prolific comedy...

Tom Shadyac

First things first, since I never got a chance to tell you, the book is awesome. I know you got the review, but once I really got into the book a little bit, I couldn’t put the thing down. As you get older and towards the end of your playing sports “career”, you really start to realize that aside from the great relationships you create the most important take away...

Keith Nateman, Football Graduate Associate New Mexico State University

In his memoir, “The Decker Hilton,” author Wes Pritchett pens an incredible true story of faith and salvation that reads like a Hollywood film. This book affected me in ways very few books do. The raw injustice of Wes’s arrest (and the brutal way it was carried out), the savagery of life at the Decker Hilton, and the fight to preserve one’s own life and soul amidst immense physical, emotional...

Jason Bow

Powerful is one adjective, uncomfortable is another. In “The Decker Hilton”, Wes Pritchett tells us how your life can change in the blink of an eye. We all know this, but until it happens pretend it only happens to everyone else. Wes take us through his journey to show and remind us that we all have these moments. He made his, a life changer — what have you done with...

Helen Frances Reaves, Esq., Parent Your Parents https://parentyourparents.com/expert/frances-reaves/

Such an amazing account of survival in a man-made hell! Ultimately a tale of resiliency but more importantly what it’s like to be a fully authentic human being. I felt like I was literally with Wes through this entire ordeal including, asking myself in each of the life and death situations, what would I do? Reading The Decker Hilton is a transformative experience with a message that can heal mankind,...

Joe Smith, I Stand With Dreamers

The “is” is what’s important. No truer words have ever been spoken but hearing about what “was” from Wes’ perspective was a literary treat. This book is a real page-turner and the storytelling is so compelling you’ll spend all night reading just to know what happens at the end. I can’t recommend it enough!

Rebecca Dorfman, Director, Public Relations & Branded Content at Zumba

A fascinating story about a young man thrown into a situation he was seemingly not cut out for, and definitely unprepared for. There are so many interesting characters throughout Wes’ story. Most importantly, this book is full of life lessons: “No matter what situations we find ourselves in, if we are not willing to take ownership of them, if we think of ourselves as victims, we will never be able...

Nic Moreiras

I met Wes and his family years ago when our children were young. There was always something about him – a calm quiet, a steadiness of spirit – that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Reading The Decker Hilton brought back memories of his energy that had struck me so long ago. This is a book about resiliency of spirit; of humility in the face of God; of determination...

Janis Hartley, Realtor Lake Geneva

“The Deckker Hilton,” is a beautiful and inspiring story. It is an easy read and one that is difficult to put down. Wes, you are a true storyteller with a strong message for the reader…….. trusting in the perfect plan that God has for each and everyone of us. Thank you for your humbleness, integrity, honesty, and message of hope. May you continue to be blessed on Life’s journey along...

Debi Portela

Wes Pritchett’s The Decker Hilton provides a vivid and raw description of an innocent teenager’s harrowing experiences in a Texas jail in the 1960’s. A remarkable journey punctuated by instances of fear, hopelessness, injustice, powerlessness and ultimately faith. You won’t want to put it down!

Joe Termini

Wes Pritchett’s The Decker Hilton captured my attention from the beginning by creating a sense of uneasy anticipation, Hard to witness the injustices imposed on this naive teenage boy. Deeply moved by the way the author details his emotions and experiences and inspired by how he transforms real life nightmares into a profound sense of faith and belief in humanity. Highly recommend this well written first hand experience of a...

Mary jo Termini

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