On December 24, 2019 a burglary of a building was reported to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office that occurred off of US Highway 59 in Goodrich. Several electronic items were stolen from a church. If you have any information or can identify the suspect(s) involved, please call Detective Byron Dunawa with Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 936-327-9027. You may submit a tip at p3tips.com, the P3 App or by calling Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP where you can remain anonymous and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest.
Search reveals illegal weapons, children also in home
LIVINGSTON — Sheriff’s deputies from Polk and Tyler counties concluded a week-long joint operation Sunday when they arrested three people at a residence off Nettles Cemetery Road on multiple warrants for narcotics, illegal weapons and child endangerment charges, according to a statement released by Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack Monday morning.
Tyler County requested assistance from Polk County’s narcotics detectives with a search for a fugitive with multiple felony warrants.
Earlier attempts by Tyler County Deputies to serve arrest warrants on Christopher Dashawn Montoya, 25, of Woodville were unsuccessful. In one of those efforts, Montoya left his two children abandoned in his vehicle — containing illegal narcotics — in the city of Woodville.
Efforts to locate Montoya led detectives to a house on Nettles Cemetery Road off of U.S. Highway 190 East. Officers shared information from the suspect’s Facebook profile that corroborated information that he might be found there.
Early Sunday morning, Polk County deputies arrived at the home to serve the felony warrants. They made multiple attempts to contact the occupants of the residence. The officers reported that those inside came to the door without opening it, locked the door and barricaded themselves inside.
As efforts to contact the occupants continued, deputies saw a firearm and illegal narcotics sitting in open view inside the front seat of a vehicle sitting in the driveway near the front door.
Narcotics detectives arrived on scene and obtained a search warrant for the residence and property.
After they made a forcible entry into the residence, officers found Montoya, Kimberly Foster, Portia Winston and five children.
Deputies took Montoya into custody and continued to search the home.
They discovered three firearms, ecstasy, marijuana fentanyl pills and more than two pounds of methamphetamine.
Montoya’s status as a convicted felon bars him from possessing firearms.
Illegal narcotics were found throughout the house, and easily accessible to the children.
Montoya, Foster and Winston were all charged with manufacture and/or delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group 1 in an amount greater than 400 g. (Methamphetamine); manufacture and/or delivery of a controlled substance in penalty group 1 in an amount greater than 4 grams, but less than 200 grams (ecstasy and fentanyl); and five counts of child endangerment.
Montoya was also charged with three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and six outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the help of the public in regards to a juvenile that ran away on October 15, 2019.
On Wednesday October 16, 2019 15-year-old Breonna Whitman was reported as a runaway. She was last seen October 15, 2019 at the Stripes gas station at the corner of FM 350 South and US Highway 190 in Livingston. She was seen getting into a white Toyota Tacoma truck with two males, one of which is her 19-year-old boyfriend Salvador Soto.
Deputies have made multiple attempts to locate Breonna. She is believed to be with her boyfriend Salvador possibly in the Onalaska area.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the assistance of the public in obtaining information in regards to a theft that occurred at The Rock Shop in Indian Springs on or about October 7, 2019.
An unknown suspect(s) removed several articles including rings, gems, and other valuables.
If you have any information on this case that will help with the investigation, contact Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP or Detective Lee Rogers at 936-329-9024, where you can remain anonymous and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest.
March 10, 1978, a pair of bank robbers kidnapped John A. Gaylord, above left, hostage at his home and forced him to go to the bank and take money from the vault.
FBI agents eventually arrested Mickey Clark at a Houston motel. He was charged with kidnapping and bank robbery, as well as several earlier robberies in Livingston.
Raymond Herman Hicks of Galveston was arrested and charged with kidnapping and two counts of aggravated robbery for the grocery store holdups.
Opinions expressed on Crime Behind the Pine Curtain are those of the individuals appearing in this episode. No statement in this broadcast represents the official opinion of the United States Air Force.
Written by Valerie Reddell
Music by Billy Eli
Sound by Jim Powers
On September 2, 2004, Floyd Thompson walked into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and told the dispatcher he needed to report a fire. Deputies accompanied Thompson back to his home at the Escapees Park about five miles south of Livingston.
When firefighters arrived they discovered four people dead inside the burning home. Over the next few hours first responders unveiled a tragic story.
A battle between prohibitionists and imbibers led to the fiery destruction of downtown Livingston in 1902. Residents rallied to keep commerce going and rebuild the small railroad town.
SHEPHERD — A multi-agency manhunt came to an end in the Cherry Creek area of Shepherd at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when alert residents spotted two men in the tree line that resembled two escapees from the Liberty County Jail.
Det. Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said that resident called 911 and state and county law enforcement flooded the area.
The men were located near Kathy St. in Shepherd.
Clay Harvey was apprehended by a San Jacinto County deputy, and a Liberty County K-9 officer caught Clarence Hunt.
The two men were discovered missing from the jail at 6 a.m., but had been present at the facility at 4 a.m.
Sharpen said the manhunt included Sheriff Greg Capers, sheriff’s deputies, Pct. 3 Constable Sam Houston and Pct. 4 Constable Alvin Wyatt in addition to Texas Rangers and Liberty County officers.
Chance Marshall Hunt, 27, and Clay Sterling Harvey, 44, apparently left the jail through a cut in the fence along one side of the jail, according to reports published on KPRC-TV’s website.
Capt. Ken DeFoor of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said Hunt is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Harvey has charges pending for manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance. Both men have ties to the Beaumont area.
The Texas Rangers have joined LCSO in the search as well as TDCJ tracking dogs.
At 5 p.m. Sharpen said the two fugitives were en route back to the Liberty County Jail.
ORIGINAL POST BELOW …
Two inmates escaped from the Liberty County Jail some time between 4 and 6 a.m. Tuesday. A manhunt is underway throughout southeast Texas.
Chance Marshall Hunt, 27, and Clay Sterling Harvey, 44, apparently left the jail through a cut in the fence along one side of the jail, according to re
ports published on KPRC-TV’s website.
Capt. Ken DeFoor of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said Hunt is charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Harvey has charges pending for manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance. Both men have ties to the Beaumont area.
The Texas Rangers have joined LCSO in the search as well as TDCJ tracking dogs.
Both men are considered dangerous and members of the public are asked not to approach them or attempt to detain them.
Call the Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867) if you have any information about location of these two men.
A Corrigan patrol officer has been was fired from the police force after being charged with theft by a public servant and official oppression, according to an announcement issued by the Corrigan Police Department on Friday.
On Monday, Cleveland Police Department confirmed that the officer, Joe Marvin Robertson Jr., 27, was found dead at about 11 p.m. Sunday.
Chief Darrel Broussard was not immediately available Monday to offer details on the death, but members of his staff confirmed that an investigation was underway.
Robertson was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on Friday, Aug. 9. He was released the same day on bond.
According to the CPD statement, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, Corrigan Police Chief Darrell Gibson was made aware of possible illegal activity involving a full-time officer within the police department.
Upon learning this information and the circumstances surrounding the allegations against the officer, Gibson contacted the Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon who in turn contacted the Texas Rangers and requested an independent, outside investigation be conducted.
Robertson was immediately terminated from the Corrigan Police Department. He had been a full-time employee of the Corrigan Police Department since May of this year.
Prior to being hired at Corrigan, Robertson worked for the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office. In 2018, he was placed on administrative leave for failing to pay outstanding traffic tickets.
Robertson also ran as the Democratic nominee for Liberty County Clerk, but lost in the general election.
“Those who break the very laws that they are sworn to enforce will not be tolerated and I will root them out unapologetically. This department and this city deserve better,” Gibson said. “Overall, the men and women of the Corrigan Police Department do a great job for our citizens, however, any behavior that impeaches their credibility or which can potentially erode public trust will not be tolerated.”
Robertson was a graduate of Cleveland High School, Angelina College, where he earned a degree in nursing, and Houston Community College, where he earned a degree in police science.
The S.S. Eastland, known as the “Speed Queen of the Great Lakes,” was part of a fleet of five excursion boats assigned to take Western Electric employees, families and friends across Lake Michigan to Michigan City, Indiana, for a day of fun and fellowship. But the festivities were short-lived and quickly turned tragic.The Eastland, docked at the Clark Street Bridge, never left the Chicago River. Tragedy struck as the ship rolled over into the river at the wharf’s edge. More than 2,500 passengers and crew members were on board that day – and 844 people lost their lives, including 22 entire families.
Learn more about the USS Eastland here where you can watch a new documentary about the disaster 104 years ago.
At about 11:22 p.m.Thursday, Aug 1, a 911 phone call was received by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Dispatch Center. The caller was requesting help.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office dispatched several units, to the Old Israel Rd. area in an attempt to locate the caller.
Responding units located the caller in the 4400 blk of Old Isreal Rd. The caller who was identified as Dana Piper, was arrested by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and charged with Disorderly Conduct.
Piper was seen by Justice of the Peace Pct. 2, Sarah Raspberry on a Class C misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Piper was given a summons to appear and released.
Sheriff Hammack advised the investigation into the 911 call is ongoing.
On Friday, Aug. 2, Piper was arrested by the Texas Department of Public Safety at 3:23 p.m. for tampering with a witness and theft by a public servant, according to the Polk County Jail’s online jail records.
Witness tampering can be classified as a first to third degree felony, depending on specific circumstances.
The classification of the theft charge will depend on the value of the item(s) taken.
Piper was sworn in as the Pct. 4 Constable on Jan. 1, 2009. His term ends Dec. 31, 2020.
Bail had not been set as of 6 p.m. Friday.
HOLIDAY LAKE ESTATES — Polk County sheriff’s arrested local man Monday after he demanded money from an 83-year-old woman on July 15, according to Capt. Rickie Childers.
Billy Glen Barton, 47, went to the woman’s home in Holiday Lake Estates and demanded $500. When she refused, he grabbed her by the arm and made several threatening statements, Childers said.
Barton also reportedly pushed the victim down in the driveway, causing injury.
Barton currently rents a residence from the victim.
Deputies obtained a warrant for Barton’s arrest the same day on felony charges of aggravated robbery and injury to the elderly.
They made several attempts throughout the evening and night to locate Barton and take him into custody, but were unsuccessful.
He was located at his residence on July 16, and arrested without incident.
Barton was taken to the Polk County Jail where he remains in custody. Bail had not yet been set as of noon Tuesday.
Thomas Kamp, 46; his girlfriend Hannah Johnson, 40; her son, Kade, 6, all of Midlothian went camping on 16 acres of land they owned near Palestine on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.
They were joined by Kamp’s two sons, Nathan, 23, and Austin, 21, of California, and Hannah’s parents, Carl and Cynthia Johnson. The family was celebrating Nathan’s approaching birthday.
Kamp had purchased the land the group was camping on in August. He planned to use the unimproved property as a deer camp. It was located next to property owned by William Mitchell Hudson, 33.
Hudson was upset that family members had sold the property. The tract had been in the family since the 1800s. William wanted to buy the land, but he has unemployed and had no assets.
Cynthia and Carl were the first to arrive. The RV they were towing got stuck in sandy ground near the campsite. Hudson used a tractor to help move the stuck RV.
The couple offered to pay him, but he suggested they share a beer instead.
Several hours passed before Tom arrived. He was delayed at work and by the time he arrived, the group needed more firewood.
William, Tom, Nathan, Kade and Austin used Tom’s ATV to go into the forest to find wood.
When Cynthia, Hannah and Carl heard gunshots, their initial impression was that the group was hunting squirrels. Cynthia said the three of them eventually gave up on the men and started to eat their hamburgers and beans.
William Hudson returned alone on Tom’s ATV.
Hannah attempted to flee into the RV after yelling to her father.
William fired two shotgun blasts and ran out of ammunition.
One shot narrowly missed Hannah. The other hit Carl in the hip.
Hudson then began beating Carl when he collapsed on the steps of the RV.
Hannah was trapped inside with the door open.
Cynthia dropped to the ground in the dark. She heard her husband screaming for help.
Hudson then turned to her daughter, beating her until the walls, floor and ceiling of the RV were coated in blood.
The Johnsons, both retired university professors in Maine, had toured the country in the RV before making Texas their retirement home.
Cynthia Johnson hid in the woods until sunup, then she called 911.
Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies of a man and woman in a travel trailer next to Hudson’s home. They searched the area until about 1:15 p.m. when they found four males dead in a pond on Hudson’s property.
Cynthia Johnson later told investigators she heard gunshots, then Hudson returned to the campsite alone.
He chased her husband and daughter into a camper and shot them.
She managed to survive the horrific ordeal by hiding the woods for hours.
Officers responding to her 911 call found visible bloodstains on Hudson’s tractor. When they spotted Hudson inside his home, they could see through the door that he was covered in blood.
When they attempted to speak to him, he barricaded himself inside. He eventually surrendered.
Sheriff Greg Taylor said the entire episode traumatized officers.
“It’s like something you’d watch on Halloween night,” Taylor said to reporters for the Daily Mail Online.
Those who grew up alongside Hudson in tiny Palestine, Texas, don’t remember much about him other than he played on the high school basketball and tennis teams and enjoyed deer hunting with his father, according to the Palestine Herald newspaper.
Charlie Smith remembers Hudson — who went by his middle name Mitchell — as being “always pleasant.”
Smith also described Hudson’s mother as one of the sweetest people on earth.
Hudson had stopped by the liquor store Smith owns on the day of the murders. Employees reported he seemed to be in a good mood at the time.
Others described Hudson as a moody longer with a quick temper which got worse when he drank.
Hudson’s ex-wife Catrina said the couple married in 2004 and welcomed a daughter two years later. When they separated six weeks after the child was born, Catrina said Hudson posed a danger to her and the baby.
She obtained a protective order as she ended the marriage. It not only ordered Hudson to stay away from Catrina, her residence and workplace, it barred him from possession firearms or ammunition.
Catrina Hudson reported three domestic abuse incidents and told jurors she believed her ex-husband had a drinking problem and possibly took illegal drugs. DPS also suspended Hudson’s license to carry.
Two other former partners of Hudson testified about his violent behavior at the trial.
One of the women said Hudson put her in a headlock until she was able to put her keys between her fingers and punch him in the groin. That was just one of the 10 to 15 times he threatened her life during their relationship.
Another told of Hudson threatening to cut her brake lines in one instance, and throwing a knife at another time. All three women said Hudson told them if they called the police, he would shoot them when they arrived.
Prosecutors also played recordings of phone calls Hudson made while being held in the county jail prior to trial. During those calls, he made repeated threats toward jail staff.
In one call, Hudson complained to his mother about his classification as a high-risk inmate.
At another time, he told her he would beat up anyone they put in a cell with him.
Hudson’s mother, Crystal Hudson, testified that her relationship with her husband became strained over the years, adding that she had suffered physical and verbal abuse from her husband.
She also claimed her son changed considerably after a vehicle crash in August 2015, the Bryan-College Station Eagle reported.
About a month after the crash, he was hospitalized after a seizure. She also said Hudson had delusions that his girlfriend was trying to poison him, and that he believed people were watching him from outside his home.
Prosecutors countered by producing a timeline of Hudson’s violent episodes that happened prior to the wreck.
Just five days before the crash, Crystal spoke to deputies through the screen of her bathroom window. She claimed she didn’t know where her son was, but a shirt time later policed drew their weapons and ordered Hudson to drop his shotgun.
Crystal was also forced to get a new mobile phone because her son shot the previous one.
The day of the murders, Crystal said William through an ice pick at her feet. The weapon missed her, bounced off the bathroom tile and landed in the toilet. Hudson then walked out of the bathroom like nothing had happened.
Crystal got in her car and raced away from the home so fast that a highway patrolman pulled her over.
Crystal also discussed her son’s admission to a mental health facility while a high school student. He remained there for six weeks in April 2003.
At the conclusion of Crystal’s highly emotional testimony, the judge granted her request to make a short statement.
“I appreciate everybody’s patience with me today. Life gets confusing, and life is unfair, and I feel so bad, and I’ve prayed for the family who has lost their loved ones,” she said, crying. Multiple surviving members of the Johnson and Kamp families cried as Crystal asked them to pray for the Hudson family, too,” Crystal was quoted as saying in the Eagle.
The Anderson County Sherif’s Office arrested Hudson a week before the murders for assaulting a female clerk at a convenience store in Tennessee Colony.
Witnesses said Hudson got into a shoving match with another customer. A gun fell from Hudson’s clothing during the struggle. He then left the store while store employees called 911.
He was arrested a mile down U.S. 287 from the gas station. When the arresting officer checked Hudson’s truck he found two revolvers on the front seat.
Hudson’s work history includes stints as a maintenance worker at the Palestine school district’s bus barn and another job with a security company.
Most recently, Hudson did chores for his parents on the family property and ran errands. His father died of cancer in 2014
High school senior Jessica King lived next door to Hudson and she told investigators about hearing gunshots around the time of the murders. She had been outside checking on her pet pig in a backyard shed, but wasn’t alarmed by the sounds since it was hunting season.
She also heard a male voice screaming “Stop! Stop! Please stop!, then a few more shots and a truck driving away.
After purchasing the property, Kamp put up a gate with a chain lock that cut off Hudson’s access to the property. Several witnesses said Hudson spent a great deal of his time “wandering around” the property.
When the group arrived for their weekend visit, they discovered the lock had been cut.
Reporters with The Daily Mail also searched deed records and found that Hudson’s father never owned the land. The Woolverton and Hudson families had intermarried several times over the years — which created the perception that the Hudson’s owned the tract where they lived.
On the third day of the murder trial, jurors watched a video of his interrogation by Anderson County investigators.
Hudson told detectives that he went home and watched movies then went to bed after he helped the family with their stuck RV.
He claimed that the liked Cynthia and Carl Johnson, and when officers told him most of the family was dead, he said “What do I have to do with any of that?”
The ex-wife of one of the victims, Thomas Kamp, believes the sale of 16 acres by one of Hudson’s relatives prompted the murders.
The former owner, Bonnie Wolverton, said Hudson did express an interest in buying the land, but didn’t have the money.
Tom Hanson told reporters with Fox 4 he recently had cleared brush from the property and planned to cut another trail for them that would lead to a creek running through the property the family didn’t know about.
The trial was held in Brazos County, a little over 100 miles southwest of Anderson County, after the judge granted a change of venue motion.
Hudson’s defense team called witnesses who described Hudson’s mental health issues, including abuse by his father, struggles with substance abuse and head injuries from a car crash.
More than 50 people testified in the 11-day trial. More than 400 exhibits were introduced.
On the two-year anniversary of Hudson’s arrest, jurors delivered the punishment verdict after deliberating for less than an hour: death by lethal injection.
William Hudson is currently confined on death row here in Livingston. You can visit him if you want. Visit Tdcj.texas.gov for information on how to get on an inmate’s visitation list.
Death penalty costs
It’s cases like this that convince many people that the death penalty is necessary.
But is it?
Ignoring the moral question about whether it is ethical for the state to kill someone, there are plenty of criminal justice experts that point out the money spent on a single capital murder prosecution can be better spent on prevention efforts.
STUDIES: Death-Penalty Trials Contribute to Higher Taxes and Increased Property Crime in Texas
A study of tax rates and crime rates in Texas counties has found that death-penalty trials contribute to higher property tax rates and increased rates of property crime. Alex Lundberg (pictured), an assistant professor of Economics at West Virginia University, analyzed budgetary and crime rate data from Texas counties and found that counties responded to the high cost burden of capital trials by raising property taxes and reducing public safety expenditures.
As an example, he cites Jasper County, Texas, which “raised property taxes by eight percent to fund a joint trial for suspects in the 1998 murder of James Byrd. Another Texas county reduced public safety expenditure after voters rejected a property tax increase.” The reduction in public safety spending did not affect violent crime, Lundberg found, but “as counties reduce expenditures on public safety in the two years up to the conclusion of a capital trial, their property crime rate rises by an estimated 1.5%.”
Studies consistently show that death penalty trials are more expensive than non-capital trials in which defendants face a sentence of life without parole. Standard practice calls for two lawyers on each side, and competently litigated cases involve lengthy jury selection, multiple expert witnesses, and extensive investigation into the defendant’s background to discover and present mitigating evidence intended to persuade the jury to spare a defendant’s life. Lundberg’s data showed that Texas “counties bear an average of $1,400,000 in additional expenses coded as ‘judicial’ or ‘legal’ in the two years up to the conclusion of a trial (or $700,000 in a one-year window).” He examined county data because “[a] few activities, such as hearing automatic appeals, housing death row inmates, and, occasionally, assigning public defenders to indigent defendants, are covered by the state, but the bulk of the expense falls on the county in which a capital trial takes place.”
To cope with the high cost of death-penalty trials, “counties meet the cost of trial in two ways. The first is by increasing property taxes. The data show property tax rates increase by an average of 2% in years with a capital trial (as a percent of a percentage). When multiplied by the mean market value across counties, the increase yields an additional $660,000 in tax revenue. The second response is a drop in public safety expenditure. Court records do not provide trial start dates, but capital trials can take more than a year to complete. With the median length of time between the date of the offense and the conclusion of trial as an approximate guide, counties reduce public safety expenditures by $2,800,000 in the two years up to the conclusion of a capital trial (or $1,400,000 in a one-year window).”
$1.4 million equals 35 full-time deputies for a year in Polk County.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there were 25 executions in 2018, and 42 defendants sentenced to death. Texas and Florida handed down seven death sentences each. California and Ohio had five apiece. No country imposed more than 2 death sentences … that’s the first time since 1972.
The 25 executions occurred in eight states, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Texas accounted for 13.
Criminal justice reform candidates won the district attorney’s office in Bexar and Dallas Counties. In California, two district attorneys with the highest number of death sentences were ousted in the election.
Marion Price Daniel III followed his father’s footsteps into politics … appearing on ballots in Liberty County as Price Daniel Jr.
Price Daniel Sr. won election as Governor and U.S. Senator.
Price Daniel Jr. insisted on order in every detail of his life.
So the first step he took in May 1976 that took him down a deadly path seems out of character.
He didn’t usually leave his law office during the work day — except to cross the street to the courthouse. So there were likely some raised eyebrows when he walked out the door on a May afternoon in 1976, climbed into his LTD. and drove to the Dairy Queen on Texas 146.
It was a girl that drew him there. A blonde 28-year-old high school dropout drove a red LeMans Sports Coupe. She was separated from her husband — and had been for many months. It’s hard to scrape up attorney fees on a Dairy Queen paycheck. Her name was Vicki Moore.
He ordered a black coffee and studied her — immediately deciding she didn’t meet his expectations.
She could lose a few pounds.
Her face had that hollow look that many poor white women have from East Texas to Appalachia.
But when she smiled, it was stunning.
Until she married, Vicki had following the tenets of Pentecostal church she was raised in — no cosmetics, no pants, no jewelry and she kept her hair long.
After the death of Franklin, an older brother who helped raise her, Vickie dyed her hair and discovered that blondes do have more fun.
When her daughter came home begging to get her ears pierced, Vickie agreed with the daughter’s request to get hers done too.
Her husband Larry Moore was a heavy equipment operator. He believed that Vicki woke up in a new world every day. He knew she had a mind of her own.
When she asked Larry for a divorce she hadn’t yet found what she was looking for — a way to express herself and be appreciated.
Daniel met Vicki Moore at Dairy Queen in Liberty — likely the only job the pretty mother of two could find a job — as her marriage was imploding.
Daniel was everything her first husband wasn’t.
Larry was over six feet tall — a big, rustic man with hands roughened by labor.
Price was slender and short with perfectly coiffed dark hair, glittering blue eyes.
But she wasn’t smitten when they first met.
Her suitor at the time was a home boy with a business degree who was kind to her children, Kimberly 7 and Jonathon, 5.
He was handsome with dark eyes, perfect teeth and brown hair.
Meanwhile, Price’s 35th birthday was approaching … It’s time to live up to his ambitions.
Price Daniel Sr. had served three terms as Texas governor, after years of service as a state rep, Speaker of the House, U.S. Senator and Texas attorney General.
By the spring of 1976 was as an associate justice on the Texas Supreme Court.
Price Jr. had made a start on living up to his father’s legacy
He won three consecutive terms in the House seat his father once held.
Jr was known for not engaging in the arm-twisting that most ambitious legislators do. He didn’t compromise just to land on the winning side of an issue.
That launched him forward when the Sharpstown scandal broke in 1973. More than half of the legislature was turned out by voters, propelling Daniel into the Speaker’s office.
While he held the gavel, the open meetings act was enacted as well as other transparency measures that have come to be known as Sunshine laws.
Daniel had vowed to step down after one term. When June 1973 arrived, he was popular. His star was rising.
In 1974, Daniel returned to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Austin. The Con Con was charged with creating a new charter for state government. Unlike its federal counterpart, the Texas constitution is a hot mess.
Delegates argued for months and when time ran out they were three votes short.
That’s when Jr acquired the nickname “Half Price.” Even his allies blamed the failure on Price’s alleged weakness of character.
He was publicly described as weak-willed, prissy, aloof, and diffident. A weenie in the House. Not a glowing description for a descendant of Sam Houston.
Price Sr. married Jean Houston Baldwin in 1940. Their marriage was untouched by scandal.
In 1966, Jr. married the granddaughter of Texas Governor Thomas M. Campbell.
They divorced in the aftermath of the con-con.
As his 35th birthday approached he was out of politics and divorced.
He needed to remarry ASAP if he was going to run for office again.
He needed a wife and Vickie needed a lawyer.
Still wounded from his first marriage, Price was wary of the world-wise women who could have provided a boost to his political image.
He began courting Vickie, showing up at the DQ and announcing it was his birthday. … she informed him he was “on the wrong side of the tracks.”
He didn’t convince her to abandon her job and celebrate his birthday with him, but he did break down her objections based on social class a bit.
In a 1981 article in D Magazine that profiled the couple, Dick J. Reavis took a shot at describing the unique mentality of man rural East Texans.
While much of Texas was thriving, the piney backwoods had been left behind. Prosperity had evaded East Texas since the roaring 20s when cotton and petroleum were booming.
Many of the resentments found in Liberty County were not based on anything in the present. Here, you inherited dislike just as you did property.
The Daniels had become unpopular simply because of gossip. That unverified community grapevine claimed that Jr.’s grandfather got rich by hoodwinking poor Baptists in a land grab.
They blamed (without evidence) that Senior cheated black families out of their holdings by arranging food stamp certifications in exchange for acreage.
Many blue collar workers believed that even their vote wouldn’t count if they couldn’t trace their family back to the Daniels, Picketts or Partlows.
When Vicki’s handsome suitor learned that Jr was also attempting to woo her, he simply dropped her.
“He wants you and there’s no sense in somebody like me trying to compete,” he reportedly told Vicki.
The dashing attorney represented her in her divorce action.
By summer, Price was convinced he was in love with Vicki.
He found it easier to relax in her presence. Jr. was socially awkward. Small talk was hard for him. Vicki would talk to anybody about anything as long as they would listen.
She broke the ice. He believed she would be a good campaign partner, even if she wasn’t up to the more complicated conversational topics in Price’s social circle.
In the fall, both Vicki and Price attempted to reconcile with their former spouses. Vicki even applied for a license to remarry Larry. But the old problems resurfaced and by the end of October 1976, she had pledged her love to Price.
As she moved into a life of privilege she, herself, doubted she could handle it
Vicki had a chaotic childhood. She was 10th in a family of 11 children. He parents divorced early in her childhood.
At 12, Vickie moved in with an older brother, but when his health failed she went back to her mother, who had remarried.
In eighth grade, she dropped out of school and entered a Waxahachie children’s home.
In the cottage Vicki was assigned to, there was no cottage father. The cottage mother was overwhelmed.
Vickie helped with household chores and got her first glimpse of settled domestic life.
Price spent his childhood in a mansion where his father was often away attending to business.
He was determined to shelter his children from the glare of the spotlight.
Tom had a room in the Daniels Liberty home. Price and Vicki’s first son, Franklin Baldwin Daniel was born in July 1977.
He doted on his children, but kept his step-children at a distance.
That led to fights.
His career became a frequent source of arguments too when he announced on the radio that he planned to run for Texas Attorney General in 1978,
That September he formally launched the campaign with a banquet at the Elks Lodge. As the election approached, Vicki was often alone with the kids.
The world of legislators, lawyers and kingmakers reminded Vicki of Puppets.
She gave birth to two sons, but never acquired the polish expected of the wife of an up-and-coming Texas politician.
He was rarely home. And when he was home, he was physically abusive — at least once beating her in front of their children.
There also were rampant rumors that Daniel was stepping out on Vicki — with men.
ABC turned the couple’s story into a movie, “Bed of Lies” in 1991, starring Susan Day and Chris Cooper.
Late in October, Vicki filed for divorce, with the assistance of County Judge Harlan Friend. News of the petition quickly hit the wire services.
Family members encouraged Vickie to change her mind.
Price came home and promised to make amends.
Within 48 hours a motion was filed to withdraw the divorce.
But the action had scarred Daniel’s campaign for AG.
His opponent, Mark White, entered the race as an underdog but by the spring, they were neck and neck.
Always parsimonious, Price rejected suggestions that he launch a massive advertising campaign.
After all, he had name recognition.
He was calling in all the ways he had paid for that name through missed childhood experiences and unfair expectations that arose from growing up in Senior’s shadow.
Statewide, Mark White beat Price Daniel Jr. 850,979 to 778,889. In Liberty County he had a margin of 63 percent.
Liberty had set a precedent of letting retired politicians climb down from the pedestal and live ordinary lives. But when the election posters came down, the problems in the marriage escalated.
Vickie was pregnant again, she hated taking pills of any kind. When she told Price about the child, they fought for a week before she agreed to go to Houston for an abortion.
The relationship rocked along and in May 1979 the couple took a cruise. It was Vickie’s first trip outside the U.S. When they returned, Vickie shelved her divorce plans.
When she returned, she realized she was pregnant once again, and that Price would not want the child.
The marriage had degenerated. And the children often witnessed the contempt Vicki and Price had for each other.
As an example, Price was a Dallas Cowboys fan.
When the game was on, he didn’t want to miss a single play, so he liked to keep most of the family’s four TVs tuned to the game.
That extended to the color TV in the children’s playroom.
Vickie and the children were relegated to a black and white set in Kimberly’s room.
The disagreement dissolved in a remote control war with each of them battling to change the channels on all the TVs in the house.
Ultimately, Price was holding Vickie down on the bed in the master bedroom and Kimberly pounded on his back, trying to defend her mother.
The couple finally separated for the night with Vickie retreating to the Del Rey Motor Inn.
Peace pacts were drawn up. Eventually those documents became public.
Price initiated the negotiations with terse, lawyerlike instructions: “List 10 things that you would want me to do differently, improve on, or change if we were ever to go back together. Also list 10 things that you would do differently, improve, or change. Be specific. No general statements permitted.”
In a scratchy scrawl with frequent misspellings, Vickie listed 17 points on which she wanted amends from Price, 11 of which she promised to improve herself. Her appeals to Price included “Listen to me when I’m talking to you”; “Come home to relax, not work”; Clean up after yourself; “Cut down on your drinking for your own sake”; and “We should go to church regularly together.” She also made complaints of an emotional tenor, such as “I don’t like fakes. I think you should express your own true feelings… to your family and friends.” Another item recalled the couple’s days of courtship and the class distinction that had once separated them: “I think you should eat at the table and not have me serve you in the playroom. I’m not a waitress anymore, I’m your wife.”
Vickie’s list of promises was less extensive. Goals such as “Learn to cook to your specifications” were written in stingy, short sentences. On other points she was sarcastic. “I shouldn’t be jealouse”-the spelling is hers – “even though you go sit at another womans table or talk all evening about how much you like a person of the fern. gender … I should never watch t.v.,” she continued, “unless you like the show and are watching it too.”
The written negotiations show that money remained a touchy subject. Price had never made Vickie an equal partner when it came to financial decisions.
Price gave Vickie $300 a month to run the household on, while he carried credit cards from Saks Fifth Avenue, Visa, MasterCard, Frost Brothers and American Express.
That $300 sounds outlandish, but in today’s money that’s $1,058.23. Still not doable with four children in the house.
Vickie had one credit card she could use to purchase gas at a Gulf Station.
At the end of the 1979 peace pact, Vicki admitted that the reconciliation was unlikely to work. They were both resistant to change.
She pleaded to continue her pregnancy, he hoped the child would help moderate his hyperactivity.
In November 1979, Price moved his law office from a downtown building to a doublewide on Hwy. 146.
He put away most of the plaques and photos from his political life except two — A photo of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and another one of LBJ.
Even those photos weren’t ever hung properly. They were on the floor, leaning against a wall.
Price had been a second business for many years, but after the defeat in 1978, the Liberty Land Company sign took a higher position over his lawyer shingle.
By the end of 1980 he was a director of 12 corporations that were involved in some aspect of the housing market. Price thought there was a fortune to be made. He planned to be the king of the trailer park and sub-development world in Liberty County.
Instead of suits, Price now went to work in western shirts and jeans.
He bought a pickup.
Those were encouraging signs for Vickie.
Employees were surprised to see the once-driven attorney, lean back in his chair, put his boots up on his desk and smoke a cigarette.
Remember when you had to get out the record player to hear your favorite song? One evening — either accidentally on purpose — Crystal Gayle belted out “Ready for Times to Get Better” over and over as the 45 rpm single was stuck on repeat.
Price had enough. He took the 45 off the turntable, smashed it and threw the pieces away.
That’s when it became clear that Vickie wanted him to hear the lyrics of that breakup song, and he didn’t want to hear them.
Meanwhile, Price’s music choices showed he was under stress.
The lyrics from a Judy Collins favorite were ironically significant:
“Isn’t it rich, isn’t it queer,
Losing my timing, this late in my career,
But where are the clowns, there ought to be clowns.
Well, maybe next year.”
Another stanza seemed to speak to his personal troubles:
“Just when I start opening doors, Finally knowing the one I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again, with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines, but no one is there.”
One thing that didn’t change was PRice’s draconian rule over the family purse.
A baby was on the way, but he refused Vickie’s request to buy ordinary household items like sheets for the baby bed or a bathroom rug.
On Feb. 2, 1980, the couple’s second son was born.
They disagreed over the boy’s name. Vickie wanted him to be Marion Price Daniel IV. Price didn’t. But it was Vickie that hospital staffers called on to fill out the birth certificate information.
Price called the baby Bob, apparently in honor of Robert Broussard, a black youth who did yard work and other maintenance chores for Price.
Broussard lived with the family from November 1979 to May 1980 when Vickie underwent a hysterectomy.
Price drew up a new will that named his sister as executor of his estate.
After the surgery, the couple moved into separate bedrooms.
Price began giving more attention to a pretty divorcee in his office named Betty White.
Price cosigned a mortgage for a Betty and her new trailer moved into Twin Oaks, a trailer park behind Price’s office.
Rumors went into over drive, but their relationship was not romantic in the least.
By Thanksgiving 1980, the couple was negotiating terms of their divorce. Price offered Vickie $350 a month to support each of the boys. Vickie thought her children should be treated the same as Price’s son by Dianne Wommack, $500 a month in child support.
Vickie went shopping for a mobile home to move into, but Price and a law partner chose a different, more staid, trailer.
He wanted her to move the trailer into Twin Oaks — where he would be within eyeshot of his office.
She consulted an agent with Price’s land company and was presented with a list of possible homes. She couldn’t decide, and he was hesitant.
They weren’t through fighting yet.
At work, it appeared that Price was adopting co-workers to replace the family that was fracturing.
He gave Betty White new autonomy in paying the company expenses.
He gave all the employees raises and offered attorney Mark Moorefield a partnership in the law firm.
The raises were the last straw. She wrote Price a note, announcing that she would not be waiting on him any more.
She called ex-husband Larry Moore on Monday, Jan. 19, 1979. She asked him for help with the physical labor of moving out of Price’s house on Thursday.
Price left his office about 6:30 Monday evening, after writing a check for $1,250 to Vickie to cover the costs of her move into Baytown and cover living expenses until the divorce was final.
To learn what happened over the next 90 minutes, we have to look at witness testimony from a child custody case that was tried in Liberty the next spring.
When he arrived home, Price handed a set of papers too Vickie.
Among them, was a listing of the couple’s community property.
Vickie refused to sign the papers without having her own attorney review them.
When she dropped the stack of papers onto a table, it knocked over Price’s drink.
Price jumped up and reportedly grabbed Vickie around the neck.
She called out for help, and her 12 year old daughter Kimberly came into the room to find Price on top of Vickie, who was laying face up on the floor.
Kimberly pushed on Price, and he ordered her out of the room.
Price and Vickie got up and she said she went tot he kitchen to make supper for the children.
Price went to the master bedroom and gathered up some personal items.
He may have loaded some items into his truck in his preparation to leave.
Then he lowered the attic stairs and called to Vickie asking where his “stuff” was.
Vickie took that to mean a small amount of marijuana that she had found and flushed months earlier.
She started up the attic stairs but Price kicked her in the forehead, she said. She was knocked off the stairs, and Price followed her down the stairs.
She ran to the back door, but was unable to open it.
Frustrated, she reached into a hallway closet. That’s where the couple kept two .22 caliber rifled and a .410 shotgun.
Vickie picked up a bolt-action Remington, threw back the bolt and shoved a live round into the chamber.
She returned to the foot of the folding stairs and asked Price to leave.
He didn’t respond at first, but then Vickie said he yelled out a threat of his own.
Vicki later testified that Price warned her he would stick the gun “up my ass.”
She fired a warning shot.
The bullet went up the stairwell and missed Price.
He came down the stairs real fast and said he was going to kill me. And I backed away. I was scared he was going to hit me again and I closed my eyes and I heard something real funny … and I opened my eyes and he was walking away from me.
The sound that Vickie described as “real funny”-she later told a psychiatrist it sounded like an object hitting water-was another shot from the gun in her hands.
At the foot of the stairs Price apparently dropped a set of keys to his parents’ house – the keys had been in a hiding place in the attic-then turned his back on Vickie and walked away, towards the rear door of the house, the door with the several locks.
A .22 shell had entered Price’s abdomens about 2 inches below the navel.
.22 rounds are rarely deadly — unless they hit a vital organ.
In Price’s case, the bullet moved upward, splitting in two. A portion of the round passed through his aorta.
Eight seconds later he fell dead … killed by ballistic bad luck.
In pretrial proceedings, Vickie faced numerous allegations.
Allegations that the door with several locks was standing up until she shut and locked it.
Vickie hired Richard “Racehorse” Haynes.
Haynes was well known for trying the victim — following a pattern set by Percy Foreman.
Ben Buchanan, manager of the Liberty radio station arrived at the Daniel home just behind EMS.
In all, eight people would wander through the family home that night.
Inside, Vickie fought with paramedics. Price lay on the kitchen floor, dead.
Price’s brother Houston appeared at the door and demanded to be let in.
Buchanan later testified that he and Houston were face to face in the kitchen, and Houston never looked down … “he looked like a man who knew what was going to be there and didn’t want to see it,” Buchanan said.
Defense attorney Jack Zimmerman asked if Buchanan thought Houston had already seen his brother’s dead body.
Buchanan answered that the though never occurred to him.
Testimony did show that Buchanan accidentally stepped on one of the two spent shells from the .22 rifle.
Medics, a nurse, Houston and Charlotte Daniel, local attorney Carl Pickett, sheriff’s deputies and newspaper publisher Ernie Ziechang were all in the house during the investigation.
Zimmerman later wrote about the shooting and courtroom adventures that followed in the Journal of the American Bar Association.
Vickie was indicted shortly after Price’s funeral.
But before the murder case was called, Vickie had to defend herself in a child custody suit filed by Price’s sister.
There were two district judges sitting in Liberty, but both recused themselves from the criminal trial as well as the custody matter.
The custody case proceeded to trial first … a sequence that even the district judge had never seen before.
It was a bitter six-week-long fight before the judge ruled that the mother could keep her two sons.
Seven months later, the murder trial began.
The popularity of the victim’s family forced the court to limit what attorneys could discuss outside the courtroom, particularly with the media. No one was allowed to interview Vickie Daniel.
Attorneys could discuss the day’s event and record to matters of record, but there would be no discussion of trial strategy, future testimony or evidence.
Jack Zimmerman wrote about the trial in Litigation magazine in the Fall 1982 edition.
The case presented several novel questions of law and would require a unique trial strategy.
For one, before a criminal trial could be held in connection with Vickie’s indictment for murder, there was a child custody case to decide.
Price’s sister was suing for custody of the couple’s two young sons.
The two district judges recused themselves and Judge Sam Emison of Houston was appointed to preside over the custody trial
The gist of the custody was trial was that Vickie was an unfit mother and posed a danger to her children because she had shot her husband.
After a bitter, six-week trial, Judge Emison ruled that Vickie could keep her sons.
The murder trial began seven months later.
Zimmerman sought to exclude all testimony from the civil trial, arguing that it was involuntary.
The judge decided that transcripts from the custody trial could only be used to rebut the defendant’s testimony.
This prevented the state from using the prior trial to circumvent the defendant’s right not to testify.
It also kept a psychiatrist’s report that Zimmerman described as “uncomplimentary” from being admitted.
Another pretrial issue was whether evidence seized from the couple’s home while Vickie was in the hospital being treated for a “hysterical reaction,” we’re admissible.
Price’s sister (and the executrix of his estate) consented to the search while Vickie was in the hospital.
During jury selection, Zimmerman asked prospective panel members about their knowledge of “dominated wife syndrome,” which includes not only battering, but emotional abuse as well.
In Texas, the law of self defense at that time applied equally to apparent danger from the defendant’s point of view.
Zimmerman also questioned potential jurors about the reactions of a reasonable woman defending herself from a man.
One response Zimmerman received was that the average woman is just as strong as a man.
At that point he seized the opportunity to educate the jury that a woman who is five foot 2, 110 pounds, cannot be expected to defend herself against a man who is 5 foot 8, and weighs 155 pounds using only her hands.
On day 3 of jury selection, someone called in a death threat against Vickie Daniel.
The defense team also used scientific evidence provided by the medical examiner to show that the shooting was accidental.
Dr. Joseph Jachimczyk described the bullet’s point of entry and trajectory.
He also found remnants of trace metal on Price Daniel’s hand. The pattern was consistent with grabbing the barrel of the .22 rifle.
The distance between the muzzle of the rifle to the entry wound was 15 inches, Zimmerman wrote.
To give the jury a visual image he demonstrated that at that distance, the muzzle was within arm’s reach.
Further, a weapons expert testified that the rifle could possibly discharge if the butt were struck against an object, while someone had their finger on the trigger.
Further, an FBI expert had provided a report that the weapon had been tested and found it would fire without anyone pulling the trigger if the bolt was struck from the rear with sufficient force.
A fingerprint expert found smudges on the barrel. He asked the sheriff’s department to fingerprint Price Daniel, but that was not done.
Zimmerman and the medical examiner reenacted the shooting in front of the jury.
Zimmerman jumped on a chair and asked the medical examiner to point the rifle at an angle that would match the trajectory of the bullet’s path through the body.
Zimmerman then reached out and quickly jerked the rifle.
The defense also put on evidence that Price Daniel could have caused the weapon to fire either by jerking the rifle toward him — taking it away from icky — or by pushing it backwards, striking the door jamb.
In either case, the shooting was not the result of a voluntary act by Vickie.
The defense team also had to prove that Vickie was entitled to hold the weapon, and create an appearance that she will use deadly force if necessary.
Zimmerman believed that majority of the jury was sympathetic toward Vickie,
and that the courtroom atmosphere in general was favorable to the defense.
However, after testimony began, the defense team learned that one of the jurors had not fully disclosed her participation in a prior murder case. She admitted to being a state’s witness in a murder case, she did not share the fact that the victim was her husband.
The rules of procedure in Texas courts set a different standard for granting a request for an instructed verdict depending on whether a jury is sitting, or a bench trial is being held.
During a bench conference, Zimmerman made a motion for an instructed verdict and the court said it would be denied. Zimmerman then said he should discharge the jury, changing the test.
The district attorney believed that Zimmerman would not do that, but the judge indicated he would approve the motion to discharge if both sides agreed.
Zimmerman said after Vickie testified, she told him she wanted the case to end. She was showing the effects of the protracted custody trial, and the three-week murder trial.
On the second day of presenting the defense’s case, Zimmerman and his team presented evidence of abuse during the marriage. Zimmerman also said he was convinced the state had not provide their case.
After court, Zimmerman and the district attorney spoke about the likelihood of a mistrial.
The defense believed that the judge would be better equipped to apply the complexities of the law to the facts in this case. They were also concerned about the impact on their client if they continued presenting evidence for two more days.
Zimmerman consulted his law partner, Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, who was trying a case in Corpus Christi. Neither attorney knew the judge well.
Zimmerman then spoke with the court reporter and the bailiff who worked with the judge every day. He spoke with Beaumont attorneys who appeared in court.
At the third day of the defense’s case began, Zimmerman approached the just and announced his desire to dismiss the jury.
After dismissal, reporters polled the jury and announced 10 votes to two for acquittal. That’s without hearing jury instructions and closing arguments.
The case concluded the next day.
At noon on Friday, Oct. 30, 1981, announced a 20 minute recess. When he returned, he announced that he found Vickie Daniel not guilty.
The 300 people in the courtroom roared.
Murder made the headlines of the Austin Daily Statesman many times during 1885. Many times the victims were African-American women who worked as domestic help.
The husbands and boyfriends of those women were arrested even though several suffered injuries in the nocturnal attacks in their homes.
Then the murders stopped. Police killed a black man who fits the profile of these murders. Was he guilty, or was it coincidental that the horrific murders ended with Elgin’s death?
Dr. J. M. Gary was shot to death July 17, 1902 in Trinity County. He was a practicing physician in Groveton and he was called to come to the aid of a gunshot victim at the Sylvan hotel.
Howard Magee, Otho Oldacre and Wright Terry were indicted for first degree murder. They were tried before J. M. Smither in Walker County on change of venue.
The shooting occurred after midnight in Groveton.
L. B. Eagle had sought out the doctor to come to the aid of a gunshot victim at the Sylvan Hotel.
Eagle was also murdered alongside Gary.
The two murders were tried separately and Howard Magee had been acquitted of Gary’s murder.
One of the longest criminal trials in Texas history pitted Zemmie Foreman and Douglas Bergman against District Attorney J.W. Simpson.
Simpson drafted two Lufkin lawyers to serve as special prosecutors.
The trial was held in Livingston just 45 days after Veal’s death.
The prosecution’s star witness was a high school teenager who watched the shooting from a picture window of the furniture store.
The defense countered with testimony from Hunter’s baby sister who told jurors that Veal had threatened her life many times over the preceding 15 years.
One piece of physical evidence was a bullet defect in Hunter’s truck that witnesses said was put there by Veal the day before Veal died.
Another former brother-in-law testified that he heard Veal announce he was going to kill Hunter Bergman.
The jury had heard from 84 witnesses over the 29 days in the courtroom. Nevertheless, they came back with a verdict in just an hour and a half.
One side of the courtroom celebrated while the other wept when the “not guilty” announcement came.
POLK COUNTY – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Texas Rangers are investigating an in-custody death that that occurred Thursday morning at the Polk County Jail.
“We are praying for her and her family at this difficult time,” Sheriff Kenneth Hammack said. “The investigation by the Rangers will be thorough.”
The preliminary investigation indicates at approximately 8:30 a.m., Polk County Jail staff discovered a female inmate unresponsive in her cell. Jail staff immediately started CPR and contacted emergency personnel.
The inmate was transported to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital, where 60-year-old Susan Williams from Livingston, was pronounced deceased.
An autopsy is being conducted at the Harris County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.
Jail records show that Williams was being held on charges of resisting arrest, search or transport; assault by contact.
Hammack said there were no signs of trauma when the inmate was discovered slumped on a bunk.
GROVETON — Back in 1960, two sisters in their 60s lived quietly on a 1,100-acre ranch about nine miles north of Groveton. The sisters, Lily and Hattie Bauer, seemed to treasure the big spread, mostly for the quiet and privacy.
They ran 70 head of cattle on the property, a flock of chickens and a garden. Their nearest neighbor was three miles away and the pair only occasionally had visitors. They were self-sufficient, but their nephew Marvin Bauer, 30, lived in a separate house on the ranch with his wife, Rosa, and teenage stepson.
Bauer told Trinity County Sheriff Lynn Evans he found the bodies of his two aunts on Dec. 27, 1960 after returning from Houston, where he spent Christmas with his wife’s family.
Bauer drove to the Trinity County Jail and found Deputy Lloyd Pruitt as he was leaving the courthouse the afternoon of Dec. 27, 1960, according to reports published in the Bryan Daily Eagle.
“Mr. Lloyd, there’s something awful happened out at the place,” Pruitt said on the witness stand.
When Pruitt went to the ranch, he found Lily Bauer lying on her back on the front porch wearing pajamas with a jacket and leather moccasins. Hattie was in bed in her nightgown.
The day after the bodies were found, Marvin gave a statement to Trinity County Attorney Albert Hutson III and it was witnessed by Evans
After gathering evidence, Evans believed Marvin Bauer killed the two women. The man’s defense team told jurors that Lily Bauer had been diagnosed with manic-depression and had frequent angry outbursts. The defense’s theory was that Lily killed her sister and then committed suicide.
In that first survey of the crime scene, the deputy found a full cup of coffee on the kitchen table, as well as an empty one on the arm of the sofa in the living room. A turkey had been left to thaw on the kitchen drainboard.
A box of young turkeys was beside an unlit heater. Some of them were dead.
Two dogs were also in the house.
It appeared as if the women had been killed before their holiday meal was prepared.
Lufkin Pathologist Dr. Jack Pruitt told the jury that he examined the two bodies at a funeral home in Groveton under court order.
Dr. Pruitt found a burn on Lily Bauer’s left palm.
The pathologist was questioned closely regarding his finding that the gun was one-fourth to one-half inch away from her body when the shot was fired. The written report made at the time described it as a contact wound. He also believed they had died sometime on Dec. 25.
Paraffin tests of Miss Lily’s hands showed no nitrate burns from firing a gun, but admitted the imprints were in poor condition when he received them from Trinity County authorities.
The murder weapon was a 20-gauge shotgun that belonged to Marvin Bauer.
A firearms expert testified that no usable fingerprints were found on the gun.
Maxie B. Eaves, a highway patrolman on leave to serve with the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kansas, identified a 20-gauge shotgun as the murder weapon.
Eaves said he and Deputy Sheriff Freeman Brown of Groveton took the gun from the scene and had it examined at the Houston Police Department crime lab.
Defense attorney Charles Tessmer pointed out that fingerprints had not been collected from the gun before it was removed.
Marvin Bauer spent the night with his aunts Christmas Eve, reportedly because he became ill that evening and went to bed at their house early in the evening.
The aunts gave him two cartons of cigarettes as a gift, then everyone went to bed.
He planned to leave for Houston at 4 a.m. Christmas Day. Lily offered to make the defendant breakfast, but he declined.
In a second statement given to investigators, Bauer said he had been outside feeding, but it was still dark when he went back into his aunts’ house.
He called out to Aunt Lily, who he could see sitting by the fire. Lily came to the door and opened the wooden door. When she unhooked the screen, Marvin opened it with his left hand.
He held the shotgun in his right hand and he laid the barrel of the gun across his left arm and pulled the trigger, the statement said.
Rosa Bauer testified that Marvin stayed home to feed the cows, and that it was her idea to visit her family for Christmas. She said he behaved normally during the Houston trip.
By the time the case came to trial, Rosa was also pregnant.
She also spoke about the night of Marvin’s arrest. A story that was echoed by Percy Foreman who also took the stand.
Foreman said he had known the defendant since he was 18 months old, and knew the defendant’s father well.
He learned about the impending arrest while at the Houston Police station about 1 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, 1960.
He called the defendant’s mother’s house before noon and made arrangements to meet Bauer downtown.
Bauer was arrested while en route to the meeting with Foreman. Bauer’s wife called and told Foreman of the arrest.
Foreman said he placed numerous phone calls looking for Bauer from the time he met Mrs. Bauer until after midnight.
He called Texas Ranger headquarters at least six times and said the person who answered denied any knowledge of Bauer.
Marvin Bauer was arrested on a Houston street at 5 p.m. Dec. 31, 1960. He was questioned in the Texas Rangers’ Houston office and then taken to Groveton to his aunts’ home.
During questioning that followed, he signed a second statement admitting the crimes at 4 a.m. New Year’s Day.
Testified that he feared for his life if he didn’t confess after his arrest New Year’s Eve. He claimed that Evans and the Rangers “talked rough” to him.
“I was going to confess to these killings or he was going to arrest my wife and boy (his stepson Roy Kaase). He had as good a case against them,” Bauer told Ranger Harvey Phillips of Woodville.
Bauer told jurors he could see the large pool of dried blood on the floor from where he was seated at the house, and that she drowned in her own blood, as a result of my shooting.
A hearing on the admissibility of that second statement included testimony from Texas Rangers Ed Gooding, Mark Jones and Hollis Sullivan, Trinity County Deputy Sheriff Freeman Brown, Houston Post Reporter Gayle McNutt, and Joe Thorpe, a criminal investigator with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
The officers said Marvin Bauer was not mishandled during the 11 hours they detained him.
They said he was offered food, but refused. He was allowed to smoke as much as he wished.
Evans said Bauer did not ask to call a lawyer, but that he would have allowed him to make the call.
Bauer believed he had a secret weapon to help him escape a murder conviction — legendary defense attorney Percy Foreman.
Shortly after the murder, both Percy and Zemmie Foreman signed on to defend Marvin. They had known their client since he was 18 months old. Later it was reported that a distant relative of the Foreman brothers had been questioned as a suspect.
It’s not clear when Zemmie Foreman moved on to other cases, but Percy’s departure drew plenty of press, and a rebuke from the judge. He resigned just two days before the trial was set to begin.
“I don’t consider an attorney like that worthy of being held in contempt,” said Judge John M. Barron. “Any attorney who abandons his client … and withdraws — runs out on him, if you please — is not worthy of appearing in any court in this State. Marvin Bauer ought to be glad also that a man like that withdrew from his case.”
Just before jury selection was to begin, the defense asked for a continuance since they had not had time to interview some witnesses due to Foreman’s departure just before trial.
The defense also objected to R.C. Musselwhite’s participation as a special prosecutor, since he also advised an attorney representing members of the defendant’s family who have filed a civil lawsuit against the defendant.
Musselwhite had been hired by John Bauer to be represent him in a civil lawsuit against Marvin Bauer.
Jo Ann Fogarty of Houston, a legal secretary who had helped the sisters prepare their wills, testified that each sister left her share of the ranch to Bauer, with the exception of the house they lived in and the acre of land it stood on.
The survivor of the two sisters would continue living in the house, but it would go to Bauer when both had died.
Two of the strongest defense witnesses were a woman who had lived with Lily Bauer for 15 or 16 years, and a Houston neurosurgeon who treated Lily for over a year for “an obvious depression” in 1938 and 1939.
Mrs. John Allen Martin said Lily claimed she was 27 when she rented a room in Marvin’s Houston Home in 1938. After Lily’s death, Martin learned that she was actually 10 to 15 years older than that.
Miss Lily’s mother had told Martin not to allow Lily to use gas stones.
About a week after she moved in, Martin opened the door to the room and found it filled with gas.
Lily claimed she had tried to turn on the stove because she was cold.
Martin found Lily crying on a side porch shortly after she moved into the home.
Martin suggested Lily see a doctor, but she did not know why she was crying.
The woman testified that Lily ‘had a nervous breakdown’ while at her home and was away for several months.
She added that Lily had a ‘very bad temper’.
“I liked her, but I kept out of her way,” Martin said.
Dr. Greenwood described Lily’s illness as a form of manic-depression, adding that he had only seen her in the depression phase of the illness.
The doctor said that Lily wasn’t released from his care, but rather didn’t come back for further treatment.
During cross-examination, Greenwood said patients have a 50-50 chance of recurrent “attacks” of the illness.
Louise C. Bauer, 75, the sister of the two dead women, was called but refused to answer one of Musselwhite’s questions and gave “peppery” answers to others, the Eagle reported.
Louise said she did not get along with her sister, Lily.
“I was scared of her,” she said. “Lily had a terrible temper.”
Louise also testified that Lily shot “many a chicken hawk with the 20-gauge shotgun.
Two of Marvin’s first cousins, Calvin and Roger, testified about Marvin’s good character, and Aunt Lily’s quick temper.
Roger Bauer testified that he stayed with the aunts for three or four weeks while painting their house at the Thousand Pines Ranch, and they did not speak to each other the entire time.
Roger Bauer said he had been questioned by Ranger Harvey Phillips, who “talked a little rough now and then” during questioning.
Other witnesses testified that Roger was in Houston on the night of Dec. 24, 1960 and the following morning
Alternatively, the defense suggested that an unknown third party killed the two women and Bauer’s confession was obtained under duress.
Jurors also heard from the plant manager of the Fort Bend Telephone company, who brought microfilm records of incoming and outgoing calls for Dec. 25, 1960.
Those records showed a call from the defendant’s mother to the Highway Patrol in Houston at 4 a.m. that day.
A collect call from a “Morgan” Bauer in Trinity was also placed to Mrs. Bessie Bauer in Katy.
Records show the call was made at 5:40 a.m.
A Trinity telephone operator also testified that the call was placed from a toll booth in front of the phone company’s Trinity office.
Mrs. Bauer, the defendant’s mother said her son appeared normal when he arrived at her home about 8:30 a.m. Christmas Day.
When Musselwhite questioned why she kept the telephone tickets from that day, she said she had every telephone ticket for about two years at her home.
The case finally went to the jury at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday March 20, after nine days of hearing evidence. At 2:40 p.m. the next day, they returned a guilty verdict.
Marvin Bauer was sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in 1972. He died Aug. 14, 2000 in Austin.
On Saturday, May 13, 2006, Kevin Rashawn Wright of Houston noticed he had missed a call from his sister, Angela.
He called Angela and soon learned that Angela’s boyfriend, Clayton “Junior Boy” Jones, had physically assaulted her during an argument.
He planned to visit family in Livingston that day. During a trip to the store before his departure, Wright saw a friend Jackie Welch who was more commonly known as D Black.
Kevin told D Black about the fight and that he was “going to the country” to see his mother for Mother’s Day. Welch asked to go too because he wanted to go to the country to shoot his pistol.
Angela picked up Welch and Wright at Wright’s Houston apartment that afternoon. Wright saw bruises and bite marks that Angela said occurred during the fight.
Angela drove the two men to her mother’s house, then Wright and Welch drove to the West End.
As they rolled through the neighborhood, Welch asked Wright what he was doing.
Wright said he was looking for Angela’s boyfriends, that he wanted to have words with him or “knock out a tooth or two.”
While driving, Wright saw Junior Boy huddled with several other people and so appellant deicded not to stop.
Wright and Welch went to Wright’s grandfather’s house and both shot Welch’s gun into the woods.
Welch ran out of bullets and they attempted to purchase more at Wal-Mart, but were turned away because they did not have a valid ID.
Wright called his cousin Reginald who went with them to purchase bullets for them.
After the shopping trip, Welch shot the gun in the backyard of Wright’s mother’s house.
Kevin Wright, his sister Angela, Reginald and a couple of children visited on the porch and in the front yard.
Jones drove up, walked up to the porch and began arguing with Angela.
Welch moved to the back seat of the car.
As Jones walked off the porch, he threated to come back and “set it off.”
Wright started to follow Jones.
Welch and Jones exchanged words and Welch shot Jones several times.
Wright said he had no idea Welch would shoot Jones.
In a video statement to police, Wright said he saw Jones take his last breath.
He dragged Junior Boy over close to the ditch across the street. Then he and Welch drove back to Houston.
During the drive D Black said, “I did it for you man”
When they arrived back at Wright’s Houston apartment, Welch got out, taking his backpack and gun with him.
Prosecutor Joe Martin also called Reginald as a witness. His testimony corroborated Wright’s video statements.
He also played Welch’s video statement, but Judge Robert Hill Trapp instructed the jury that D Black’s statement could not be considered as evidence to connect Wright to the offense.
This is where today’s guest enters the story.
At about 4:45 a.m. Deputy William Jerry was dispatched to Wiggins Village I where a caller reported a “drunk guy in a ditch.”
13 years later, Jerry doesn’t have any trouble remembering what happened next.
Junior Boy goes to Houston for an autopsy.
Investigators also collect 9 shell casings from a 9 mm gun, off to the side of the porch.
In the appeal, Justice David Gaultney notes that in addition to the gunshot wound, Jones had a broken arm, small abrasions and swelling and brusing around his right eye.
The Medical Examiner determined Jones sustained 7 gunshot wounds that caused his death.
Wright appealed on the grounds that the state failed to prove that he participated as a party to the murder.
Under the law of parties, a jury can convict someone is they were “acting with intent to promote or assist in the commission of the offense”that includes anyone who solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense.”
The law also holds that participation may be inferred from circumstances, and need not be shown by direct evidence.
The appeals court looked to Reginald’s testimony .
Reginald told the jury he heard at least six shots from the 9 mm.
He saw Jones fall to the ground.
Reginald identified Welch as the shooter and Welch admitted shooting Jones.
The medical examiner testified that at least one of the gunshots would have been fairly instantly fatal.
She also explained the broken arm as having occurred when Jones’ body was being removed from the crime scene.
Jones’ body was muscular and in a full state of rigor mortis when funeral home staff was attempting to put Jones in a body bag.
The black eye was consistent with a fight having occurred the night before the shooting, she added.
Wright was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 50 years in prison and is currently being held at the Coffield Unit in Northeast Texas.
He becomes eligible for parole Jan. 12, 2032.
Welch’s appeal focuses on the trial court’s refusal to admit evidence purporting to represent the deceased’s known violent character.
D Black is serving 40 years at the Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon.
He could become eligible for parole in October 2026.
Dennise Hayslip was a kind woman — that’s what her son Wade Hayslip would like most people to remember. Dennis was at home in her apartment with Darren Cain when Charles Victor Thompson forced his way in and shot Darren then Dennise.
Thompson started dating Dennise Hayslip, who was twelve years his senior, around June 1997 and soon moved in with her. Thompson rarely worked, but relied on Hayslip and another roommate for support. Thompson became increasingly jealous, possessive, angry, and abusive. Thompson eventually moved out, according to a federal appeals court decision in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
Hayslip began dating Darren Cain, but still occasionally saw Thompson. On April 30, 1998, Thompson was at Hayslip’s apartment when Cain called at around 2:30 a.m. Thompson told Cain “to come over there and he would beat his ass.”
When Cain arrived, Thompson answered the door with a stick. A fight ensued. Thompson lost the fight.
By that time, the police had been called. The responding officer encountered Thompson, Hayslip, and Cain standing outside. Thompson’s eye was blackened from the fight he had started.
Because no one wanted to press criminal charges, a police officer allowed Thompson to leave after threatening him with criminal trespass should he return. After the responding officer escorted him from the premises, Thompson went to get a gun.
Thompson later described to a friend, Diane Zernia, how he returned to Hayslip’s apartment and shot both Hayslip and Cain.
Thompson kicked down the door to Hayslip’s apartment and encountered Cain inside. As Cain grabbed the end of the gun, Thompson began firing. Thompson shot Cain four times, and two bullets missed. After Cain fell to the ground, Thompson reloaded the gun, put it up to Hayslip’s cheek, and said, “I can shoot you too, bitch.”
The gun fired. The bullet traveled through Hayslip’s cheek, into her tongue, and out the other side.
Thompson later claimed that he also tried to shoot himself, causing a wound on his arm.
Neighbors heard the gunshots. Shortly thereafter, Hayslip began knocking on neighbors’ doors. A neighbor found her sitting on the ground, gasping for breath as she leaned forward to prevent drowning in her own blood. When emergency responders arrived, they found Cain dead.
Hayslip was bleeding profusely. Responders took her by life flight to a hospital where she later died.
Leaving the apartment, Thompson threw his gun in a nearby creek. Thompson then went to Zernia’s house and fell asleep on a couch. When he woke up, he described the murders to Zernia.
Thompson then called his father, who picked him up and took him to the police station.
The prosecution particularly emphasized Thompson’s
confession to Zernia that he shot both victims. The main defensive argument at the guilt/innocence phase was that medical malpractice, not the gunshot through Hayslip’s mouth, was the primary cause of her death. The jury convicted Thompson of capital murder. He was sentenced to death.
On direct appeal, Thompson raised issues relating to both the guilt/innocence and punishment phases of trial. In 2001, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that the State violated Thompson’s
rights by relying in the punishment phase on the tape recording of an undercover police officer’s jailhouse conversation with him.
By Valerie Reddell
LIVINGSTON — A long nightmare finally ended for the Burman family this week when a Polk County jury found Elizabeth Annette Davis, 27, of Livingston guilty of interference with child custody on Tuesday. The trial was held in Judge Kaycee Jones’ 411th District Court. The state and Davis’s attorney Joe Roth agreed to a negotiated sentence of six months in jail.
Davis was indicted after she took her daughter and disappeared from a Florida hotel in November 2017, where she was working as a contractor assisting with hurricane recovery.
Travis Kade Burman was called to testify about the circumstances that led up to the moment that Davis disappeared with their child.
In response to questions by Polk County Assistant District Attorney Kirby Wills, Burman described their relationship up to the time of Davis’s department.
Burman and Davis had lived together since 2015. They got reacquainted while Burman was playing football at Lamar University in Beaumont, but the two families had known each other for years.
He had applied for a job with the Baytown Police — intending to follow the rest of his family into law enforcement — but was passed over in favor of an experienced officer. He was working other jobs while he planned to enter Angelina College’s law enforcement academy.
In September 2017, Davis went to work for a company that was assisting with disaster recovery after Hurricane Irma struck Florida.
After a two week school in Dallas, then Davis was deployed to Florida. Burman and their daughter went along, with dad taking care of the child while Davis worked.
“Things went fairly smoothly,” Burman said. At least for the first several weeks. They spent their daughter’s first birthday on Miami Beach. They traveled every two or three weeks, living in motel rooms.
After about five weeks, Burman said Davis’s mother entered the picture and the relationship got rocky.
“Elizabeth’s attitude changed,” Burman said. “(Dawn Bello) is not someone I like to have around my child, and I noticed some of the same things in Elizabeth. It started to scare me.”
Bello and Davis had left before, keeping the baby away from Burman for extended periods, but Davis would return and the couple would reconcile.
When Davis disappeared in November 2017, she didn’t return. Also, Davis was six months pregnant with their second child.
Davis wanted to go to Puerto Rico and work on hurricane recovery, but Burman objected. He had already learned of negative experiences that friends and family had while serving with military humanitarian missions to the island. They described it as looking “like a nuclear bomb dropped on Puerto Rico.”
Burman said he believed it wouldn’t be possible for Davis to receive prenatal care there, and it wasn’t a safe place for their daughter.
On Nov. 8, 2017, Davis took the baby, the dog and left in the car, Burman said.
“I stayed at the hotel,” Burman testified. “I was gonna let her have her space. I thought she would take a drive and cool down, but she disappeared. I had no vehicle. I was being a stay at home father. I was stranded. “
He told jurors he waited up virtually all night for Davis and the baby to return. He had “passed out” from exhaustion and worry after dawn.
He startled awake when a police officer knocked on the hotel room door, and feared his worry about a possible car crash was true.
The officer wasn’t there about a crash. He was serving papers ordering Burman to appear in a Florida county court.
Davis had filed a domestic abuse complaint — an action that could have ended his plan for a law enforcement career — as well as the wrath of his parents and brother who all are licensed peace officers
Court officials determined the allegation was unfounded, but he was stranded in Florida.
He wouldn’t see his baby daughter for a year, and he missed the birth of his son.
While she was in hiding, Davis changed her name and obtained a new birth certificate for the little girl.
In the affidavit she completed to get that identifying document, Davis gave a different date of birth and claimed she had given birth in a rest area alongside the highway. There was no father listed of this Florida birth certificate.
The new names for the mother-daughter duo proved a challenge to pronounce for the East Texas based witnesses, as well as the U S Marshal who rescued the children in Mobile, Alabama.
(Editor’s note: The small children involved in this trial are not being identified in compliance with the Enterprise’s policy on crime victims unable to speak for themselves.)
Burman returned to his parents home in Livingston and attended the Angelina County Law Enforcement Academy, then joined the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Burman said supervisors at PCSO asked him to explain some negative comments that Dawn Bello about him on social media.
His explanation prompted Capt. Rickie Childers to open an investigation for interfering with child custody on Oct. 11, 2018.
Tara Burman, Kade’s mother, intended to attend the academy at the same time as Kade, but she ultimately decided to focus her efforts on finding her grandchildren.
It took months, but she ultimately tracked them down — with some assistance from a private investigator — to the hotel room on the I-65 corridor in Mobile, Alabama.
Childers notified the Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force that Davis and the child had been located.
Inspector Beau Martell took the stand to describe how his team retrieved Burman’s toddler daughter — and the son he and his family had never seen.
Martell said he met with the hotel manager who said he had seen Elizabeth Davis at breakfast on multiple mornings.
“The primary focus of the mission was the safety of the child,” Martell said. “One member of our team — a female marshal — was tasked with taking physical possession of the child as soon as the door was open,” Martell said.
The rest of the team would focus on the three adults inside the room — Davis’s brother had also been identified in the room.
The marshals took up a post in a room that was diagonally across the hall from the one Davis and her family occupied.
As agents were lined up on both sides of the door, a member of the hotel staff knocked on the door with fresh towels. When one of the adults stuck out their hands for the towels, marshals grabbed their wrists and pulled them into the hallway.
The team was surprised to see two children inside the room.
Each of the adults were separated and detained for investigative purposes. Davis was arrested on an outstanding Texas warrant.
When Martell asked the adults to identify the baby, they each claimed they didn’t know the child’s legal name, telling Martell they referred to the baby by a nickname.
Martell said he did allow Bello to attempt to soothe the children who were crying in response to the marshal’s surprise appearance.
When he interviewed Davis, she repeatedly provided a different name.
Martell said he warned Davis about the potential federal penalties for providing a false name to a federal officer, but she provided the false name a second time.
The marshal also told the jury he obtained consent to search Davis’s purse where he found a Colorado driver’s license bearing the name Erin Nicole Simon of Colorado Springs, a debit card, and a Texas driver’s license identifying her as Elizabeth Davis.
When Davis asked to take her passport with her when she was taken into custody, he found what appeared to be authentic passports for the two alternate identities she had been giving to the marshals.
While Capt. Rickie Childers was on the witness stand, he told jurors that providing false information to the Florida Department of Vital Statistics made those identifying documents as forged.
Childers was able to obtain a birth certificate that matched the fake passport obtained for Burman’s daughter.
In obtaining that new birth certificate, Davis claimed the child had been born at a roadside rest area in Florida. In fact, the baby had been born at a Beaumont hospital, where Kade Burman had been present.
The children were temporarily in the custody of the Florida Department of Health and Human Services.
After Florida case workers spoke with investigators at Texas’ Child Protective Services, both children were returned to their father.
Paternity testing performed after the children were returned to Burman determined there was a 99.99 percent probability that Burman was the baby’s father.
Jurors found Davis guilty Tuesday afternoon.
Davis has been in custody at the Polk County jail since Dec. 7, 2018, in lieu of a $100,000 bond. She will complete her six-month sentence in June.
Child custody orders signed by County Court at Law Judge Tom Brown will prevent her from having access to the children, family members say.
Daniel Blank is on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary for the horrific murder of six people in Louisiana. He targeted these weathy residents to obtain cash to support his gambling habit.
This story was also featured on “FBI Files.” Watch that episode here.
Rape charge against doctor rocked the community
By Greg Peak
It was on a cool Wednesday morning in November 1989 when the Livingston community was rocked with the news that a prominent member of its medical community had been arrested in connection with the rape of a 37-year-old Vidor woman.
That day, Dr. William Chester “Bill” Ingram, 41, had been booked into the Polk County Jail and was later released after posting a $25,000 bond on a sexual assault charge.
The arrest occurred on Nov. 8, 1989 after the victim, a pharmaceutical sales representative, pounded on the door of a residence near Ingram’s rural home near Livingston at about 2 a.m. Described as being “in hysterics,” the woman was totally nude and complaining that she had been repeatedly raped.
Ingram was taken into custody later that morning by the Polk County Sheriff’s department, launching a legal battle that would last for the next two decades as the case wound first through the trial stage and then appeal.
The trial, which began in May 1991, was moved to Houston due to Ingram’s prominence in Polk County as well as the pre-trial publicity the case attracted. State District Judge John Martin selected his alma mater, the South Texas School of Law, as the location for the proceeding after granting Ingram’s change of venue request.
When the case went to trial, the charge of sexual assault had been replaced with aggravated kidnapping, which combined the sexual assault with a claim that the victim was held against her will at Ingram’s home.
The case pitted widely-known defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, a protégé of Percy Foreman, against special prosecutor Jan Krocker, who would later be elected as a criminal district judge in Harris County.
During the trial, the defense conceded Ingram and the woman had sexual relations at his home, but argued that it was consensual. DeGuerin told the jury it was only after the woman became concerned her husband might learn of the affair that she panicked and claimed rape.
According to testimony during the trial, the woman had called upon Ingram at his office at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1989 to discuss the over-the-counter drugs sold by her company, McNeil Consumer Products. When Ingram invited her to dinner, the woman said she agreed, hoping to further develop a professional relationship with the doctor.
The testimony indicated that when Ingram arrived at her motel to pick her up, he said he was just returning from a racquetball match and wanted to go to his home located just outside of Livingston to clean up and change.
Once at his home, the two agreed to eat supper there rather than go out, but when the woman began to feel uncomfortable and asked to be taken back to her motel, things changed. She told the jury that Ingram attacked her, drug her to his bedroom and literally pulled her clothing off her.
While she tried to fight back, the doctor overpowered her and, according to her testimony, he repeatedly raped her over the next five hours. It was only after he fell asleep that she was able to slip away from him, climb over a fence and run to a neighbor’s house for help.
During the trial, which lasted about three weeks, a total of 42 witnesses testified and more than 200 exhibits were admitted into evidence.
On June 5, 1991, the seven-man, five-woman jury deliberated for only three hours before finding Ingram guilty on an aggravated kidnapping charge. Because Ingram had asked that the judge impose the punishment should he be convicted, sentencing was delayed while a pre-sentencing investigation was conducted by the probation department.
Martin would later hand down a 40-year prison term, of which Ingram would serve 24 before being paroled and released from custody in 2016.
Although it was not mentioned during his 1991 trial, the doctor had also been indicted by a Harris County grand jury in April 1991 in connection with a March 1988 incident involving the abduction and attempted rape of another woman in Houston. The district attorney in that case elected not to prosecute Ingram because he was convicted and sentenced to prison in the Polk County abduction and rape case.
After the appeal of his conviction in the Polk County case was rejected, Ingram continued the appeal process seeking to have the Harris County indictment removed from his record. The appeals court in their 2011 ruling also rejected that request.
Texas Rape Shield Law
In this episode, we mentioned the Rape Shield Law, but didn’t explain it well. Here’s take two (courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Resource Service):
Unlike the prior Texas statute, Rule 412 prohibits the use of either reputation or opinion evidence of an alleged rape victim’s past sexual behavior. In addition, Rule 412 includes the crimes of attempted sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault under the rape shield provision. The prior statute did not specifically address attempted rape. The prior statute permitted the use of evidence of specific instances of an alleged victim’s past sexual behavior. Rule 412 prohibits the use of such evidence unless it meets three criteria. Rule 412 also creates a presumption that an alleged rape victim’s past sexual conduct is not admissible unless it meets certain exceptions.
We will post updates here for this developing story.
Execution set for Wednesday in 1998 Jasper hate crime
John William King, one of the three men convicted of the horrific death of James Byrd Jr. of Jasper, has a date with death Wednesday. Barring any a last-minute stay, King will be strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber in the Huntsville unit and given lethal injection.
On Monday, his appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Board of Pardons and Paroles were denied.
Lawrence Ruzzell Brewer was put to death in 2011 and Shawn Berry is serving a life sentence.
The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear King’s case when the current session opened in October 2018.
Jasper police found the dismembered body of James Byrd on Huff Creek Road in Jasper early Sunday morning, June 7, 1998. His torso, legs and left are were found in front of a church. The rest of his body was found 1.5 miles down the road.
At King’s trial, a forensic pathologist found that Byrd’s injuries were consistent with being dragged by a vehicle by a chain wrapped together by a chain.
Investigators followed the blood trail down the road to an area where it appeared a fight had occurred, court records show.
Police recovered a cigarette lighter engraved with “KKK” and “Possum”; three cigarette butts, a can of “Fix-a-Flat”, a CD, a pack of Marlboro cigarette, beer bottles, a button from Byrd’s shirt, Byrd’s baseball cap and a wrench with the name “Berry” etched in it.
Byrd had been at a party on the night he was killed. He left around 1:30 or 2 a.m., walking alone.
At around 2:30 a.m., an acquaintance saw Byrd pass, riding in the back of a primer-gray pickup truck. Three white men were in the cab.
On Monday morning, a Jasper officer stopped a primer-gray pickup. The driver was Shawn Berry.
In the bed of the truck found tools matching those left at the grassy area. Dried blood splatter was found under the truck and on a tire. DNA testing proved the blood was Byrd’s.
DNA testing of cigarette butts showed one was King’s.
Other evidence indicated the cigarette lighter belonged to King. Possum was a nickname he had in prison.
The state produced evidence showing that King developed an intense hatred of black people while in prison. He had been released a year before Byrd’s death.
King was the leader of a white-supremacist gang, the Confederate Knights of America.
He had numerous tattoos that featured images popular with white supremacy groups including the Ku Klux Klan.
HE had written letters to friends in prison indicating he planned to make a name for himself and was planning something big for July 4.
A gang expert testified that the location of Byrd’s body, near the church, was intended to spark terror among the black community in Jasper.
In a letter to the Dallas Morning News, King claimed he was innocent. He said Shawn Berry was responsible for Byrd’s death.
King said Berry had dropped off he and Brewer prior to the murder.
The state refuted that by testimony from friends of the trio as well as Byrd’s blood on one of King’s shoes.
During the mandatory appeal, King claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. He said the attorney did not offer evidence that could have provided him an alibi.
The appeals court rejected each of the points of error raised by King’s defense team.
Shawn Allen Berry is serving a life sentence in protective custody at TDCJ’s Ramsey unit. He will have a parole review in 2038. Following the punishment phase of Berry’s trial in 1999, jurors said they did not believe Berry was a continuing threat.
While it’s likely that this ordeal is likely to come to an end for King on Wednesday, the trauma will continue for Byrd’s family, the Jasper community and East Texas will remain.
In 1939, Lillian’s luck ran out. She’s indicted by a federal grand jury in Shreveport for 11 counts of mail fraud. She was accused of writing 11 phone checks for $1,792 using the alias of Helen Maulin. Seven of those checks were on banks that didn’t exist., others were written on bogus accounts. Each of the checks ranged between $5 and $500.
Arthur Temple Jr. told Bowan that in the late ‘30s, she owed Temple’s companies $5,000. She went to Arthur Temple Sr.’s office and gave him a check much larger than the $5,000 and asked him to give her the difference. He did and the check bounced. She went to jail after the senior Temple filed charges. Several members of the Temple family had unnerving experiences with Lillian.
Henry Temple ran the Diboll operations. He told a story about waking up several mornings and looking outside and saw Lillian walking around his yard, waiting for him to wake up so she could ask him for money.
In September 1939, Lillian’s youngest child took her own life in Beaumont. The 19-year-old had been deeply affected by her grandmother’s murder. Compound that grief with her distress over breaking up with a boyfriend proved to be too much.
Lillian was unusually subdued when the appeared in court on Nov. 17, 1939. She changed her plea to guilty. The judge was sympathetic, ordering her to remain in jail for treatment and delayed sentencing.
She was ultimately sentenced to 5 years in prison and an additional 3 years of probation. She was take to a West Virginia facility for women.
Lillian wrote Henry Temple from prison, asking for gifts for fellow inmates. The items were lipstick, stockings and makeup. Henry complied, mostly out of concern ro what Lillian would do to him when she got out.
She was released from prison almost a year early, and reportedly only had one disciplinary action during her confinement.
Now we jump forward to 1957, In March, Chicago attorney Edward J. Barrett is getting a haircut. The barber tells him about an older lady who has been in the Cook County jail for four months on a phony larceny charge.
The barber explains the his friend, Margaret Costello, was being prosecuted under her real name — Lillian Knox.
He had another friend, Rose K. Moir, the wealthy widow of a owner of a prestigious Chicago hotel.
Mrs. Moir lived in the hotel and used a wheelchair. She needed around the clock help. A friend of Moir’s had introduced her to Margaret (Lillian), a trained nurse.
Barrett described Margaret/Lillion sa 5-4, 160 pounds, with short straight hear, dyed henna orange, but fading to white. She had coarse features and spoke with a country twang., but she had a commanding manner and penetrating look.
Lillian had been arrested in NYC in October 1956 on an Illinois warrant for grand larceny.
Lillian was accused of making off with $53,000 in bearer bonds belonging to Raise Moir., and perjury for lying in probate court about the location of the bonds.
She had been in jail for nine months. Lillian claimed to have received the bonds as a Christmas gift from Rose shortly before her death, but she did not open the gift until after the probate hearings.
The jail was loud — too loud for Lillian and her lawyer to hear each other, despite being in a booth away from the other offenders.
She began sending Barrett stacks of letters. Much of it had nothing to do with her case, but Barrett devoured it looking for details that would help her case. She dropped in and out of his life for nine years.
Here’s what he learned about Lillian and Rose:
After leaving prison, Lillian assume the Margaret Costello alias. She had occasional nursing jobs. She was still strong enough to meet the physical demands of lifting patients. She mostly lived in inexpensive hotels on the north side of Chicago.
One of those hotels was owned by Lol McElroy who introduced Margaret/Lilian to Rose and the barber in the morrison hotel where Rose lived.
Rose was in poor health, but was mentally sharp.
In July 1952, McElroy called Margaret and said Rose had been “kidnapped” and placed in a suburban mental hospital by her longtime attorney. Rose called McElroy pleading for help, and she called on Margaret for help.
Margaret showed up at the lawyers office and using her well-honed powers of persuasion, gets Rose released.
Margaret and Rose spend two weeks together, with Margaret/Lillian providing around the clock care. Exhausted, Margaret leaves Rose with a new practical nurse, and returns to the Castle hotel. In four or five months, the new nurse leaves and Margaret and McElroy arrange for Rose to enter a nursing home.
Rose gets frequent visits from the barber, McElroy and Margaret/Lillian.
Lillian gets a cash windfall when Minton sent her a check in early 1953 for just over $11,000 with “Hemphill property” in the memo line.
In September, Rose decides the wants to leave the nursing home and asks Marget to move into another apartment hotel with her. They remained there until Rose’s death on December 16, 1953.
Margaret charged Rose $80 a week to stay with her, and stipulated it had to be in cash. Rose later raised her pay to $150.
That money may have been well-earned if there’s any truth to Lillian’s statement that Rose was demanding and incontinent.
Rose and Margaret received a lot of visitors, including a few from Rose’s adopted son, who was now middle aged and reportedly lived on Skid Row.
Barrett — one of Bowman’s co-authors — said he has bene on both sides of estate controversies. He believes that the prevalent scam out there was between elderly people and those that care for them.
Rose’s attorney claimed that Margaret persuaded Rose to sign blank checks to several pre-selected stores in their neighborhood, then Margaret would purchase items Rose needed.
When Margaret filled out the checks, she fill-in amounts much larger than the purchase and pocketed the difference — and possibly splitting the cash with the merchants.
Among the purchases was enormous amounts of canned good, which were stacked to the ceiling in Rose’s apartment,
It’s not surprising that several families in Hemphill began receiving huge boxes of canned goods.
Although the shipments were a godsend for those Hemphill families, ROse’s lawyer claimed that Lilian received around a quarter million dollars between the canned goods scam and the forgeries.
It was never clear where all that money went.
Barrett learned that Rose apparently sent Margaret and McElroy to empty her safety deposit box of stocks and bonds in January 1954.
When they delivered the stack of bearer bonds to Rose, she got angry and send them back to get stock certificates.
Then Rose apparently endorsed all stock certificates in blank. Those securities remained scatter through the apartment among the bartends of food stacked to the ceiling in every room. She reportedly planned to tear up her will and establish a trust fund for her son. She never gave those instructions to her attorney, tho.
In November 1954, Rose told McElroy that she gave Margaret enough to live on for the rest of her life. Margaret also wrote to Barrett, saying that Rose have her two gifts in early Nomber. OOOne a check for $35,000, and detailed how split that money between $20,000 for herself., paid attorney’s fees, send $10,000 to her son in Brazil (but he never got it) and put $10,000 in Kentucky bonds.
The second gift was a small box and Rose instructed Margeret not to open it until Christmas.
Rose also reportedly showed Margaret a robe in the box, and wrapped it in brown paper. Supposedly, Lillian didn’t know that $53,000 in bearer bonds were tucked inside the robe.
Rose died Dec. 16.
Lillian called attorney Herman Fischer to report the death.
Fischer found the torn-up will, and saw the cartons of food for the first time. He ordered Lillian out of th those. She left, but took $200,000 in endorsed stocks to the funeral home.
Only three people attended Rose’s funeral. Her son isn’t one of them.
Fischer was pointed the administrator to collect for the Moir Estate. He pursued the missing bonds and other assed with zeal.
Lillian (as Margaret) was summoned to court to testify about the bonds. She claimed she didn’t have any of Rose’s assets, but no one believed her.
Then Margaret/Lillian disappeared.
The court froze all her assets, most of while were held in assumed names.
Eventually Fischer locates $530,000 in stocks, bonds and government notes. Margaret eluded police for 22 months. She adopted a new alias, Hazel Berry, and went to New York City.
She cashes a few coupons from the bearer bonds she keeps hidden in a locker at Grand Central Station.
Those coupons lead investigators back to her hotel room at the Woodstock hotel, where she lived with a Greek sailor who had jumped ship.
Lillian was flown back to Chicago, handcuffed to a female officer. That officer also delivered the remaining bonds to the State Attorney’s office.
As Barrett dove into Lillian’s defense, he spoke with Rose’s maid Ethel Turner. She confirmed the christmas present story and said Lillian had provided excellent care for the old woman.
Lillian’s trial was worthy of a Perry Mason episode. When the state presented its evidence, they failed to prove that Rose still owned the bonds at the time of her death. Since prosecutors had not proved they had a case, the judge directed the jury to find Lillian not guilty.
So without putting on a single witness, Lillian walked free. She returned to Lola McElroy’s hotel and resume using the Margaret Costello alias.
With this legal battle Lillian disappears again. After her stint in federal prison, she was obsessed with secrecy.
Barrett had won a $5,000 settlement off for Lillian but he could not contact her.
He sent letters to her sister and a friend Lillian had mentioned in their conversations. Both went unanswered.
When Barrett appeared in court and told the judge he couldn’t locate Lillian, the judge ordered the Moir estate to up the offer to $10,000 and gave Barrett 10 days to find his client. Barretttalked to the son of John Minton, Lillian’s former attorney in Hemphill. Minton urged Barrett to come to Hemphill. The two one to the home of Henrietta Green. Green was now a widow, but had once been a member of Lillian’s household staff.
Barrett described Greens house and spartan, but clean and warm. Despite the fact that the structure was a one room with a dirt floor.
He also saw cartons of canned goods stacked. Ms. Green acted as a mail drop for Lillian. Hazel placed mail addressed to Lillian in preaddressed envelopes and sent them on to a Chicago address.
Barrett found Lillian in a first-floor apartment with a middle-aged couple. Lillian was their nurse.
In the corner, cartons of canned goods were stacked. Lillian signed the release that would allow Barrett to accept the $10,000 settlement.
Then Lillian told Barrett she wanted to sue Chester Collins, but should couldn’t define the grounds for a lawsuit, so it wasn’t filed..
That inability to gather her thoughts grew into greater cogiitive issues. When she visited her children they reported strange behavior. Hiram and his wife took turns staying up when Lillian was in their home.
Her grandson, Mark Knox described some strange incidents during a 1963 visit at their San Antonio home. “She locked herself in Mark’s room, eating peanut putter and watermelon. She spit the seeds, and some stuck to the wall. Mark also said she stuffed some of the seed in a large pair of ladies’ panties and hid them behind his dresser.
BeforeHiram died he gave a video interview. He declined to talk about his grandmother’s death, but said he had forgiven his mother for most of her misdeeds. One of the most painful of those was the theft of his A&M memoriabilia, including his senior boots.
“When Geraldo Rivera was opening the Al Capone vault on TV in Chicago, I expected to find some old Knox belongings.
ON the 80th anniversary of Lillian’s husband Hiram’s death in Hemphill, there were fear reminders of the couple that ran the multi-million dollar lumber empire. “Lady Bountiful” died in 1966 of heart disease while living in the Kankakee State Hospital, south of Chicago. None of her family members were present and she was buried in the hospital’s weed-choked graveyard.
There once was a numbered post marking grave # 4608, but even that had disappeared by the time Bowman wrote his book.
Chester Collins became one of Texas’ most famous criminal defense attorneys in the 1930s.He moved to Fort Worth in 1927 after successfully defending the Rev. J. Frank Norris, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher.Norris was charged with shooting D. C. Chipps, a friend of Fort Worth Mayor H. C. Meacham. Collins employed some of the same methods used in Lillian Knox’s hearing in Hemphill. Norris was acquitted after jurors determined the act was self-defense.In the 1960s, Lillian told others she blamed Collins for the downfall of Knox Lumber Company. When the treasury department got after the Knoxes for taxes, she said Collins wasn’t aggressive enough in protecting their interests … “Because I quit him,” she added. “My good husband could not endure the heartache.”As she grew older, she claimed Collins had a “fine legal brain.” But she quickly added, “he tried to kill me twice.”
Eck Prud’homme worked for Temple and often acted as Lilian’s messenger boy.In the 1920s, Collins’ wife, Cloe Mantooth Collins, asked Prud’homme to deliver a message to Collins at the Knox home.He found Collins sprawled out on a feather bed on a large sleeping porch. Collins was wearing silk pajamas.Another of Collins’ friends said he was a ladies man who woe $1,200 suits.There’s no documents that show Lillian was ever married to Collins, but common law marriages were common in early East Texas.Their relationship certainly caused friction with Chloe, and she and Collins divorced.But before the split, Chloe took aim at a full-length portrait of Chester Collins that Lillian had commissioned from a Kansas city artist.She fired a series of shots from her pistol that outlined Chester’s body in the painting.Chloe died in 1958, but Chester still visited her grave. By the middle of 2000, all of Lillian’s children were dead.
Young Willie Knox is shown with a friend before his death in 1911. Merton Knox family photo | Mystery of Lady Bountiful
- William Hiram “Bill” Knox
Retired Air Force paratrooperDied in Houston June 14, 1986.
• His twin brother John died in 1912 at 3 months old.
• Lillian and Grace, another set of twins born in 1913 supposedly died in 1914, on the same day, but the details are unknown.
• L. Marcene “Mark” Knox — died in Houston in the 1980s. Served in the Army during WWII. Reportedly the military mayor of Stuttgart.
• Mary Lillian Knox aka Sister Mary Clement Knox died in a Shreveport convent Jan. 25, 1988.
• Hiram William Ambrose Knox — died July 12, 2000 in Auburn, Calif. one month short of his 90th birthday.
At the end of 1918, Hiram Knox Jr. borrowed money to buy more timberlands, believing it would be years before World War I ended. He struggled to continue payments before … Continue reading 16. Lillian Knox Part 2
Humanitarian or Murderer? An 85-year-old murder that still hangs unsolved in East Texas. In 1922, Lillian Marshall Knox ran one of the largest East Texas Lumber companies of the time … Continue reading Lillian Knox Part 1
UPDATE: 12:25 p.m.
Just spoke with Trinity County Chief Deputy Tommy Parks … the warrants for kidnapping and aggravated assault stem from an altercation Hanson had with his former girlfriend. Witnesses saw him force her into his vehicle. He drove her around the Glendale area and struck her several times, including one blow with a flashlight to her head that caused significant injury. Hanson then returned to a store in Trinity and went inside for a drink. Once he was out of sight, the victim jumped from the car and escaped. She reported the incident to law enforcement. Parks said Hanson uses meth frequently and is considered armed and dangerous. Call 911 if you see him.
Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace, Trinity Police Chief Steven Jones and other law enforcement officials are in the second day of a manhunt for Justin Hanson.
Wallace said in a live video posted to his Facebook page that Hanson has been binging on meth for several days.
Jones reported that Investigator Cole was checking locations in the Trinity area looking for Hanson in connection with a reported kidnapping and aggravated assault. Details on that offense were not immediately available. We will share those as soon as we learn more about that incident.
During that initial search, Jones said another male caught sight of Cole and immediately fled.
“Running at the mere sight of a police officer creates reasonable suspicion and probable cause,” Jones explained.
The fleeing man fled to a location where Hanson was hiding, Jones said. When the second suspect entered that location, Hanson took flight.
Wallace said Hanson was wearing blue jeans and a red tank top at that time. He was believed to be in the Milltown area of Trinity, but he also listed Trinlady Park Road and little Mexico as possible areas where Hanson could be hiding.
Officers found one suspect hiding behind a door in an abandoned church. Jones also recovered a handgun that officials believe was in Hanson’s possession, but they report he could have other firearms.
On Thursday, Wallace advised residents to be cautious and avoid allowing children or other vulnerable residence to be outside.
If you see Hanson or someone who appears to be Hanson, call 911. Do not attempt to detain him yourself.
Watch Wallace’s video here: https://www.facebook.com/TrinityCountySheriff/videos/2111958305693320/
By Valerie Reddell At about 10:30 a.m. Monday, first responders were called to the Delaney Ranch in the 3600 block of FM 3126, where law enforcement officials found five people … Continue reading 5 dead in mass shooting at Blanchard ranch
LIVINGSTON — A local man is in custody after reportedly walking into First National Bank’s downtown location at 11:36 a.m. Monday and passing a note to a teller demanding money.
Thomas Stewart Holcomb, 34, of Livingston was being booked into the Polk County Jail Monday after the robbery and attempting what was described as a unique getaway.
On Monday Dec. 23, 2019, at approximately 10:20 a.m. Livingston Police Officers responded to Ridgecrest Apartments 901 Forest Hollow, in reference to a report of shots fired.
When officers arrived, they were advised the victim — later identified as Justine Jermanie Brown, 32, of Livingston — had been shot and taken by private vehicle to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital, according to Det. Marty Drake.
Upon further investigation officers located and interviewed several witnesses who all identified Jermichael Lynn Harrell, 21, of Livingston as the subject who had allegedly shot Justine Jermanie Brown moments earlier.
During preliminary investigation at the scene investigators believed Brown and Harrell were in a domestic dispute over a child.
During the dispute, Harrell produced a handgun and allegedly shot Justine Jermanie Brown several times, causing his death.
This is an ongoing investigation, Officers and Detectives are currently interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence.
At approximately 3:00p.m., Jermichael Lynn Harrell turned himself in to Polk County Chief Deputy Byron Lyons without incident. Jermichael Lynn Harrell was then transported to the Livingston Police by Chief Deputy Lyons and released to the Livingston Police Department for processing.
Jermichael Lynn Harrell (21) of Livingston was charged with Murder (1st Degree Felony) and is currently being held at the Polk County Jail with a bond of $500,000.00.