Elgin officer sentenced for possession of child pornography
Attorney General Greg Abbott's campaign against sex offenders and online sex predators in Texas claimed another scalp Monday when a Bastrop County Jury sentenced 48 year old Orvin Roger Miller to three years in prison for three third degree felony counts of child pornography possession.
Prior to his arrest Miller had worked as a police officer in Elgin, a small city located 8 miles east of Austin, known to locals as the 'The Sausage Capitol of Texas'. Now he will find out what life is like on the other side of the prison wall.
In addition to jail time for the first of the three charges, Miller was given ten years' probation and fined $10,000. According to the Attorney General's office, the cop's crime was discovered after he left a thumb drive containing his resume, personal data and personal collection of child porn in a police computer. A fellow officer is reported to have found the illegal material and reported Miller, bringing his career in law enforcement to an abrupt halt.
'Possessors and distributors of child pornography abuse children not only when images are made – but the cycle of abuse continues each time an image is viewed," said Attorney General Abbott in a statement to the press.
Tuesday November 17, 10:18 AM
Bank robbery suspect arrested almost immediately in South Austin
Customers and staff at the branch of the Wells Fargo Bank at 1901 W. William Cannon Drive received an unpleasant surprise this morning when an armed man entered the bank at 10:15 am. After ordering a clerk to put other people's money inside an orange bag he was carrying, the robber swiftly exited with his loot.
Although the first phase of his crime was successful, the next part proved problematic, and the alleged robber had less than an hour to enjoy the fruits of his morning's labor. Two witnesses followed him out of the bank and began following him down Cannon Drive, at which point the robber opened fire, failing to hit any of his targets.
Accounts vary as to whether the suspect then fled on foot, or by car. Either way, lacking an effective exit strategy, he was in police courtesy by 11:30am.
“The actions of witnesses and the quick response of officers to secure the perimeter of the robbery scene, made it possible for an arrest,” said Corporal Scott Perry, a spokesman for the Austin Police Department.
Wednesday November 18, 2:32 PM
Man lost in storm drain found after fire fighters discover his arm
Emergency workers in Austin stumbled upon a strange sight Wednesday evening when they discovered a human arm protruding from a storm drain at 45th and Duval Streets at 6:30pm.
Further investigation led to the discovery that the arm belonged to a man who had earlier called emergency services, complaining that he was lost in a drain. Efforts to track the man using GPS had failed after his phone disappeared from the network.
The Fire Department has not revealed how long he was lost in the drain, nor have they released the man's name. Although he originally claimed that he was searching for a friend he subsequently admitted that he had been roaming in the darkness beneath the city and called 911 after he realized he was lost.
Firefighters removed a manhole cover to liberate the man; as to what happened next no other information is available at this time.
In other crime news, Temoris Marquis Johnson, 27, of Killeen was arrested Wednesday for beating a puppy over the head with his fist. A police officer apprehended the suspect at 1701 Alamo Street at 4:30pm. Official reports state that the puppy's objections could be heard several blocks away. Johnson was remanded to Bell County Jail and bail was set at $25,000.
Thursday November 19, 2:42 PM
Missing boy found dead in Temple
Killeen is no stranger to tragedy: the town is adjacent to Fort Hood, which two weeks ago was the site of the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 30 wounded, and in which Major Nidal Hasan remains the only suspect. Only yesterday police issued reports of inter-species violence on Alamo Street. And late Thursday brought news of another violent crime- of a lower profile than some others perhaps, but no less tragic for those whose lives are now caught up in it.
16 year old James Johnson III lived on the 3600 block of Palm Tree drive until last Wednesday, November 11th. When his mother left the family home briefly at 7:30pm he was sleeping; when she returned an hour later he had vanished. James' cell phone was silent, and none of his friends reported having seen him. Local media reported the boy as missing.
James is not missing any more. Police found his lifeless body at 2:15am Thursday morning, lying on farm road 1237 just outside Temple. Bell County Detectives were quick to respond: in less than 24 hours three teenage boys were in custody on suspicion of murdering Johnson.
Victor Villarreal Jr., 17, lives on post at Fort Hood. Paul Andrew Cantu, also 17, is from Waco, north of Killeen. A 16 year old boy was also arrested but as a minor his name cannot be released. The minor is being held in Bell County Juvemile Centre, while his fellow suspects have been remanded to Bell County Jail. Bail has been set at $1 million. The police have released no information as to the condition of the body, the cause of death or the suspected motivations for the crime.
The people of Killeen have been exposed to numerous mass killings in recent years. In 1991 the town was the scene of the Luby's massacre in which 33 died, the worst mass murder in US history until Seung Hui Cho cut a swathe of destruction through Virginia Tech in April 2007.
Friday November 20, 3:55 PM
Leisurely prison break catches law enforcement off guard in Bastrop
While the examiner may take a break over the weekend, crime does not.
The big story, hitting all the local media was the leisurely prison break made by two middle-aged men, from Bastrop Federal Prison Camp on Friday evening. Escape was easy: police report that Adan Chavez (53) and Leandro Luna (52) simply 'walked away' from a low security area of the prison, as if they were heading out for a pleasant evening stroll.
Chavez originally hails from San Antonio and was serving a 30 year sentence for offenses involving cocaine and firearms. Luna, from the border town of Edinburg, was doing a ten year stretch for importing marijuana into the US. Luna was spotted in East Austin late Friday, where he has family. As of Monday however, both men are still exploring their new found freedom. Police fear they may be heading for Mexico.
Luna is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 334 pounds. He is diabetic and has gray hair, brown eyes and a scar on his abdomen, should you get close enough to see it. Chavez is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. He has graying black hair and brown eyes. Both men are described by federal investigators as 'dangerous, career criminals'.
The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force will be grateful to receive any information you can provide leading to the capture of these felons at 916-5393. The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force also reminds the public that it is a federal offense to aid fugitives.
You have been warned.
Monday November 23, 3:38 PM
Youth gone wild opens fire at Austin High School
Shots were fired outside Austin High School at 5pm yesterday when an argument between high school senior Jay David Carbullido, 17, and another, unnamed teen over some nuts quickly escalated into something much more serious.
After throwing acorns at each other for an undisclosed period of time, Carbullido resolved to finish the dispute once and for all when he pulled a .21 caliber rifle from the trunk of his car. As his erstwhile acorn-tossing opponent exited the scene in his own vehicle, Carbullido opened fire, hitting the departing car four times, once for each of its passengers. Glass shattered, but nobody was hurt.
Carbullido is well-known to school officials. According to Austin High School Principal Lucio Calzada: 'He’s extremely compulsive. On a drop of a dime, he has this idea in his head and he acts on it.”
Currently sitting among other, more experienced criminals in Travis County Jail on a $500 000 bail, Carbullido would be wise to learn how to rein in his impulses.
In other crime news, Leandro Luna and Adan Chavez who strolled away from Bastrop Federal Prison Camp Sunday night are now believed to be in Mexico. Police followed the fugivitives' trail first to East Austin, then to an abandoned Ford Crown Victoria in the HEB car park on Interstate 35 and William Cannon Drive. Luna was subsequently spotted in Del Rio Saturday morning where he was reportedly 'hitting up relatives for money'. Law enforcement is now liaising with Mexican counterparts across the border in Ciudad Acuña to track down both Luna and Chavez.
'We believe they have that nothing to lose mentality,' said Hector Gomez, a U.S. Marshal supervisory deputy.
Tuesday November 24, 3:11 PM
48 hours brings shooting, stabbing, burglary and a plague of feral cats to Killeen
Nobody was hurt in Austin’s high school shooting Monday night, but a discharged shotgun would lead to a much more tragic result 59 miles north of the city, only a few hours later.
At 11:19pm, police were called to an apartment in the 3400 block of Victoria Circle, Killeen. Inside they found Joshua M. Wyatt, a 22 year old soldier posted to Fort Hood, still alive but with a wound in his chest that had opened as a result of a shotgun blast. Wyatt would live a further 49 minutes, only to die before emergency services could bring him to the emergency airlift at Fort Hood. An autopsy will be performed at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas; police are still searching for Wyatt’s killer.
A day earlier and it was a knife that claimed the life of another soldier, again in Killeen. Spc. David L. Middlebrooks, 20, of Marianna, Florida had served his country since 2007. He had deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from June 2008 through June 2009. In this short time he had won multiple decorations and awards, including the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Having survived danger on the battlefield, he lost his life at a party on 111 Prather Drive on Sunday. Police found his body in the front yard of the apartment complex shortly before 5am, and he was pronounced dead at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at 6:50am.
Middlebrook’s remains will join Wyatt’s at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas for an autopsy. However the man accused of stabbing Middlebrooks to death is already in custody: Donnie Kenneth Stevens Jr., a fellow soldier at Fort Hood is the only suspect, and has been remanded to Bell County Jail on $1 million bail.
Meanwhile Killeen Town Hall was raided by a burglar in a beanie cap early Monday morning. The town is also infested with a plague of feral cats.
Tuesday November 24, 4:31 PM
Houston's Reckless Robber comes to town, succesfully holds up Wells Fargo
Last week a Wells Fargo in South Austin was held up by a useless bank robber who was swiftly arrested.
Earlier this morning however a more successful heist was pulled off at the branch of Wells Fargo on 1601 West 35th St., not far from Seton Medical Center, where at the very moment the crime was taking place newborn children were sleeping in their mothers' arms, unaware of the kind of world they had just entered.
The robber, described by police as either white or Hispanic, 6 ft tall, dark haired and with 'heavy to medium' build entered the bank at 10:30am, and the small black semi automatic gun he was carrying made it clear that he had not come to discuss a small business loan. He indicated to a clerk that it would be wise to comply with his desire, which was to relieve other people of the burden of their money. The clerk complied and the robber swiftly exited through a side entrance with his loot, then disappeared into the city's labyrinth.
Where did he go? The police do not know. Nor are they certain whether he was carrying a black briefcase as some witnesses reported. And yet they do think he has robbed banks before, in the Houston area, where he enjoys some notoriety. He even has a nickname, the 'Reckless Robber' thanks to his habit of waving his gun about wildly and pointing it at customers and clerks as he goes about his business.
In fact, the Reckless Robber has held up at least 15 banks in and around Houston, possibly more. Is Austin his new hunting ground? We will soon find out.
Wednesday November 25, 2:15 PM
Middle aged fugitives arrested in city named after dead poet
While millions across America celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, it is highly unlikey that Leandro Luna, 52, of San Angelo and Adan Chavez, 53, of Edinburg were in a very grateful mood. Police report that the two fugitives who escaped from a Federal Prison Camp in Bastrop last Thursday are now in police custody in Del Rio, their brief moment of freedom at an end.
After successfully evading the attention of law enforcement in Bastrop and Austin, the fugitives headed south in an old blue van, ultimately crossing the border into Ciudad Acuña mere hours after their escape. Then they spent almost a week in the city, location of the 'border blaster' radio station XERA in the 1930s, which was used by Dr. John Brinkley of Kansas to promote his peculiar medical service of implanting goat testicles into impotent men. Today Ciudad Acuña is a popular destination for college students intent on partying.
Perhaps Luna and Chavez will feel greater affinity with the city's more mournful associations. It is named after the poet Manuel Acuña who killed himself in 1873 over an excess of (unrequited) longing for a woman. Acuña wept as he ingested Potassium Cyanide, thus fulfilling the words of his own verse: "como deben llorar en la última hora, los inmóviles párpados de un muerto".
However it was not a woman that Luna and Chavez longed for. According to Hector Gomez, a supervisory deputy for the U.S. Marshals Service in Austin:
'“You know the saying leopards don’t change their spots? These guys always want to come home. It was just a matter of waiting for them.”
But 'home' did not want them. Arrested by Mexican police, they were shipped north on Thursday, after a Mexican immigration judge ruled that the two men, both U.S. citizens, had no right to remain in the country.
Friday November 27, 3:15 PM
Simmering tensions in East Austin explode over wet toilet seat
Details emerged today of a crime that occurred over a week ago but which had remained shrouded in secrecy until reported by the crack investigative team over at Fox 7 Austin.
On November 23rd police received information that a fight was taking place in the yard of a home in East Austin, an area created by the City for non-whites in 1928 and which remained a largely neglected ethnic enclave until a controversial process of gentrification set in over the last decade. This particular fight was taking place on Maple Street, not far from the guitar shop. By the time the officers arrived the violence had ended; they did, however, discover a 72 year old man, bleeding from the head.
Court documents reveal that the old man, who remains nameless, had been preparing food when he was suddenly attacked by his room mate Patrick Billingsley. According to police, Billingsley, 48, had flown into a rage because the old man, with whom he lives 'would not bathe and kept urinating on the toilet seat.' Tired of mopping up the older man's droplets he resolved to put an end to his frustration by force.
In spite of the 24 year age difference in his favor, and the fact that he was armed with a file, Billingsley could not achieve an easy victory over the sloppy micturator. After receiving a blow to the head, the old man seized the file from his assailant's hands and pursued the younger man, thus proving that even in the struggle between pensioner and (relative) youth, the victory of youth is never wholly certain.
No word has been released on whether the former room mates have reconciled and will return to their life together, or whether this outbreak of cross-generational warfare marks a final, bitter split.
Monday November 30, 5:42 PM
Youth crime round-up: Luling marijuana thief faces murder charge
After yesterday's anti-pensioner violence, today brings multiple stories of local youth raging out of control.
Let us start with the youngest offenders: two 13 year olds have been charged by police for sexually assaulting a fellow student at Covington Middle School. Apparently their teacher, Mr. Robert Brent Scott was showing his class a video, and the students took advantage of the darkness in the room to pounce on their victim as the lesson was in progress. Days later, on the 23rd November, Mr. Scott himself was arrested for installing a keylogger program on his ex-wife's computer, which sent many of her private details directly to his own computer screen. He has been charged with breach of computer security, and removed from the workplace, where his ex-wife is a colleague.
Yesterday meanwhile a 15 year old student brought a loaded handgun to class at Cedar Park High; fortunately nobody was hurt. The student was arrested at 11:30 a.m, charged with a 3rd degree felony and transported to Williamson County Juvenile Justice Center in Georgetown, where they do not look kindly upon that kind of behavior.
Celso Gutierrez, 18, who has been held on charges of aggravated robbery and assault charges since September 2nd now faces additional charges of burglary and attempted sexual assault in a separate incident. DNA linked him to the crime which took place only three days earlier on the 4000 block of South Congress. Gutierrez is alleged to have raided a woman's apartment in the company of four masked men. He removed his victim's necklace, and when she claimed she had no money he shot at the floor, presumably to frighten her. It was only then that, lacking any notable bounty from his attempt at burglary, he decided to assault her.
Finally, Frank Castro of Luling, turns 18 today but it is unlikely he will be celebrating, as he has just been charged with capital murder by a Hays County jury. At 2am on the night of September 4th he and three friends broke into an apartment on the 900 block of Chestnut Street intending to steal some marijuana. A resident of the home opened fire, leaving two of Castro's accomplices dead. Castro himself was apprehended by police at the scene of the crime.
But if Castro did not kill anybody, then why has he been charged with murder? San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams explains that since he was committing a crime with his accomplices when they met their violent ends he could be held legally responsible for their deaths. The individual who shot them on the other hand has not been charged with any crime.
If convicted, Castro faces life in prison.
Tuesday December 1, 3:38 PM
Stupid ninja kicks man in head, fails to steal money
A strange story comes to us today, once again from the investigative masters at Fox 7 Austin.
According to a police affidavit a man named William Odenweller, 27, took a flying leap at a stranger.
While mid-air, he kicked his target in the head and then, as said target was falling forwards to hit the ground, Odenweller reached into his victim's back pocket hoping to steal his wallet.
Unfortunately for the nimble Odenweller, he couldn't locate a wallet and having thus wasted a perfectly good kick, resolved to flee the scene immediately.
However, two witnesses to his amazing kick prevented him from fleeing by pinning him to the ground.
Odenweller was arrested, and charged with robbery by assault; bail is set at $15,000.
Wednesday December 2, 2:21 PM
49 year old wheelchair-bound child rapist overpowers two prison guards, escapes
Things are quiet on the crime front in Austin today, so let us cast our net a little wider and head East towards. Houston, where police are searching for Arcade Comeaux Jr., 49, a hitherto wheelchair bound child rapist who escaped while in transit from Huntsville to Beaumont Monday.
Leaving Hunstville at 5:15 am Comeaux surprised his two armed guards forty five minutes later when he pulled out a gun and ordered them to transport him to Baytown, 40 miles east of Houston. Until this moment Comeaux had been confined to a wheelchair, having earlier suffered a stroke that had left him paralyzed. In fact the humane prison authorities were transferring Comeaux to Beaumont so that he could be close to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, where he could more easily receive treatment. The necessity of treatment became moot however when the 6 ft tall 200 pound Comeaux calmly picked himself out of his wheelchair, took the guards' guns and, upon arriving in Baytown at 9am, escaped on foot into the early morning light.
Was this a miraculous healing? Senator John Whitmyre (D) of Houston is skeptical. "There's a theory working that he staged the whole thing. He's a con; he's a manipulator, and he's outfoxing the people who are charged with the responsibility of keeping him securely incarcerated."
Meanwhile state prison authorities are confronted with multiple embarrassments. How did Comeaux acquire a pistol while incarcerated? How did he fool so many people, including doctors, for so long? And why was the state so forgiving of so enthusiastic a criminal? CNN report that Comeaux's prison career began at age 19 in 1979, when he received three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary.
He was released a mere four years later in 1983. Indecency with a child returned him to prison in 1984, this time with a twenty year sentence. He was released seven years later, in June 1991. Parole violations landed him back inside after only four months of freedom, but once again the state was forgiving and let him out after he had served a further four inside. In December 1993, parole violations landed him in jail again; but he was released slightly more than two years later, in February 1996. Comeaux then committed yet another sexual assault which at last saw him returned to prison for life in June 1998. Even then he managed to stab his wife 17 times during a contact visit in July 1999 (he pinned her to the wall with his wheelchair). When another prison visitor tried to intervene, Comeaux stabbed him also. Both victims survived. Comeaux received two additional life sentences.
And now he is a free man again.
Speaking to CNN Comeaux's mother Joyce said that she is concerned for the fate of her boy, the third of eleven children. She wants him to return home "so that I can talk to him, give him a good meal, a good bath, and send him back where he come from."
Thursday December 3, 2:31 PM
Secretly recorded erotic movie lands shameless voyeur in serious trouble
Ladies! Beware of James DeLosSantos!
According to a police affidavit Mr. DeLosSantos, 34, is alleged to have secretly recorded himself enjoying the sex act with a female partner and then posted the film on his Facebook page for all of his friends to admire. When his (now ex) lover saw the film- which had been made public without her permission- she alerted the police, who after inspecting the explicit footage, charged the amateur cinematographer with 'felony improper photography or visual recording'.
Mr. DeLosSantos denies the allegations. It is all a terrible misunderstanding, he says- the individual starring with him in his home made erotic movie is an entirely different female. And yet he refuses to disclose the identity of this new romantic partner. Thus Mr. DeLosSantos seems willing to fall on his knightly sword so as to spare this lady embarrassment. Truly he is a gentleman of rare taste and breeding- and in this day and age no less!
Perhaps Mr. DeLosSantos is telling the truth. Nevertheless, should he approach you with sweet words and bouquets of flowers, you may wish to exercise caution. Unless he is convicted of course, in which case he shall be removed from the streets and locked up for a maximum of two years. Then it shall be Mr. DeLosSantos who is required to exercise caution - a great deal of caution, in fact.
Friday December 4, 4:01PM
Cop seeks to flee reality via prescription meds, reality threatens him with 'termination'
Donald D'Amour: the name sounds like the hero of an old Western. These days when there are no cowboys or old school lawmen you'd have to be a modern day equivalent- a Texas ranger, an ATF man, or a cop. And indeed, that's the career path 32 year old D'Amour chose. After working for 4 years as a paramedic and emergency medical technician he clearly felt that something was not right in an existential sense, and so he joined the Police Department in Round Rock, a town just north of Austin which is named after a rock that is round.
It seems however that his past and present have just converged as D'Amour was arrested Monday on suspicion of faking prescriptions. A pharmacist at an HEB grew suspicious on November 20th when a doctor called in a prescription from Advanced Pain Care in Round Rock speaking very 'clearly and calmly' as he did so. According to the HEB employee this degree of relaxed self-assurance was 'very unusual' for the employees of Advanced Pain Care. Calling the clinic to inquire, the pharmacist discovered that the prescription was indeed fraudulent, and that the doctor who had supposedly called was not in fact treating the intended recipient of the drugs, who was, needless to say, Donald D'Amour.
The prescription that aroused suspicion was for Hydrocodone - an addictive painkiller very popular with young people who raid their parents' medicine cabinets. However according to police both Mr. D'Amour and his wife had also made efforts to acquire Diazepam - which the state of California offers to condemned men to soothe their nerves before execution and Cefalexin - which is apparently very good for treating urinary tract infections.
Of course, it’s a stressful life being a cop. You spend your days chasing criminals and car wrecks, witnessing all kinds of misfortune and trauma, listening to lies, dealing with bureaucracy, pushing like Sisyphus against the accumulated weight of human misery and wickedness.
But if you need to get out of your head for a while, well- that's what alcohol and cop bars are for. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a third-degree felony. Currently on administrative leave, if D'Amour is found guilty he faces 'termination'- a heavy price to pay for those few, fleeting moments of sweet oblivion.
Tuesday December 15th, 4:08pm
Hooters waitress upholds the law; cop indicted for punching suspect in face
This morning there was practically no crime to be had in Austin; the worst I could find was a story on the Fox 7 site in which a Hooters waitress had declined to illegally purchase prescription drugs from a customer.
Reportedly high as a kite himself, Manuel Perez, 23, had offered the waitress some Aderall, a stimulant used by sufferers of ADHD and narcolepsy. It increases alertness, libido and sharpens concentration.
Police responded swiftly and discovered that Mr. Perez, who said he was 'going to drive home' was a veritable walking pharmacy. Hydrocodone, Carisoprodol, Tylenol with Codeine, Xanax, Soma and Ambien were also found on his person. As Fox 7 were reporting this story for no other reason than that a Hooters waitress was involved, I left it alone. Until now, obviously.
A few hours later however and the city's cup was running over with crime. Consider the case of Imran Rafaquat Khan, 17, and Christopher Michael Braddy, 19. According to police affidavits, on Monday night they set out to rob an individual living on the 2100 block of Lamplight Village Circle in North Austin. Discovering that he wasn't home, the enterprising pair later confessed to police that they decided to break into his neighbour's place instead.
Wearing masks and wielding rifles the can-do criminals allegedly forced their substitute victim to the floor before helping themselves to his laptop, MP3 players, cell phone, watch, wallet and even a coin jar. What they didn't know was that a neighbor had already phoned the police. Khan and Braddy were arrested before they had time to start the engine of their getaway car.
While Khan and Braddy are currently sitting in Travis County Jail on $100,000 bail, the man who this morning held up the Rattlesnake Inn in the tiny town of Florence on Highway 95 remains at large. Wearing a ski mask and wielding a knife, the robber demanded cash from a female employee at 10am, before fleeing on foot.
Police are also still searching for the man who robbed a jewelry store in Barton Creek Mall Saturday. This thief achieved his ends by means of trickery- after asking to see a blue sapphire ring, he snatched it and then fled, escaping in a blue SUV that was parked outside. If you were in the area and saw a white man, 150 pounds, between 5'5" and 5'8", wearing a black jacket and torn blue jeans and clutching a sapphire ring then APD's Southwest Area Detectives would like to hear from you at (512) 974-9774.
And finally, courtesy of the news edge an Austin cop, Johnnie Lenard Wooldridge was indicted today for punching a suspect, Jonathon Rangel in the face. Was this frustration? A result of provocation? Plain thuggery? Good old fashioned policing? Or is it a lie on the part of Mr. Rangel intended to smear the name of officer Wooldridge? As yet we do not know. If the accusations are true, then it was certainly unsportsmanlike as Mr. Rangel was in handcuffs at the time of the alleged smack in the kisser. More importantly, it was unwise: Wooldridge is charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
Wednesday December 16, 4:18 PM
Car jackers steal utterly mediocre vehicle at knifepoint
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Texan not in possession of a set of wheels should get his hands on some as soon as possible, otherwise he will struggle to function in society.
Indeed, not having a car in Texas is not that far from not having legs: it is difficult to gain employment, difficult to go shopping, or find entertainment, or even visit the doctor. In addition, if you are a teenage boy, girls will laugh at you. Meanwhile the alternatives to owning a car are grim: the cities are not designed for pedestrians, and public transport routes are not only limited and lengthy but you can easily end up embroiled in conversation with a lunatic.
Even so, no amount of frustration can justify stabbing a person in order to get his car, which is what happened at Dove Springs Road near Stassney and Palo Blanco at 5 AM this morning. Fortunately the victims of this car jacking did not suffer serious injuries. However the situation could have been very different- and all for a red Chevy Cavalier!
It may have been one of the top selling cars in America a few years ago, but GM don't even make them any more. And the third generation scored very poorly in crash tests for driver deaths between 1995 and 2005 when production at long last ceased. Described by one critic as a 'hodge podge of GM spare parts' it didn't even look good. And somebody could have died for this heap of junk!
Police are appealing for information about the suspects, who remain at large.
Friday December 18, 2:15 PM
Cane and Abel with guns in Cedar Park; Burnet woman survives nocturnal headshot
On Friday night Philip Cornejo and his little brother John were hosting a birthday party for their young nephew at their home on the 2200 block of Sandra Drive, Cedar Park. A happy family scene.
Within a few hours however John, 25, was dead from a gunshot wound, lying in a pool of his blood in the very place where the celebration had taken place mere hours earlier. Called to the house at 5AM, police found the corpse and took Philip, 45, two decades his brother's senior, into custody.
What happened? Maryanne Cornejo, sister to both men told Fox 7 her siblings might have argued, or that it may have been an accident, but that ultimately the whole sequence of events felt totally unreal. "I just want to wake up," she said, before adding that Cornejo was hearing impaired and thus carried a gun: 'Because he can't hear and he doesn't know what's going on and he's home alone sometimes so just for protection."
This was not the only incidence of gun violence at the weekend. Less than 24 hours later there was very nearly another murder 37 miles away in the small town of Burnet, which takes its name from David Gouvernor Burnet, who served as the first provisional president of the independent Republic of Texas in 1836, and who also had a magnificent beard.
At 2AM, Vinson Cowan 19 is alleged to have crept up to the window of a house in the Deer Springs neighborhood, taken aim at a woman sleeping inside - who just happened to be sharing her bed with two children- and fired. The bullet missed the kids, but successfully hit the woman in the head.
And yet she did not die: the victim was released from hospital in Round Rock later that day. Police soon tracked Cowan down and he is currently sitting in Burnet County Jail where, if the accusations against him are true, he certainly belongs.
No information is available as to Cowan's motives. Was this a random act of psychotic violence? Willful evil? Or did the suspect know the victim, and was he retaliating following a dispute? No answer would diminish the fact that shooting a sleeping woman in the head is a near epochal act of cowardice, and one wonders what Cowan's cellmates will do when they discover why he is in jail.
Finally, some good news: last Friday's car jacking was not actually a car jacking. Police later anounced that the stabbing was a result of an argument between associates, and not an insane desire to possess a Chevy Cavalier at all costs. And while the violence is still reprehensible, this crime at least can now more easily be understood.
Monday December 21, 4:24 PM
Kerrville father kidnaps own kids, threatens to kill them all
There won't be much seasonal cheer in the Hill Country town of Kerrville this year- at least not in the family of James Vest, the Desert Storm veteran who took his own children hostage this Sunday and held out against local police in a standoff that lasted for over six hours.
The drama began at noon when police received a phone call from the children's grandfather, informing them that Vest had been sending threatening text messages to his wife, who had left him. Vest insisted that he was going to execute himself and all four of their children if she did not return within 24 hours. According to the Kerrville Daily Times the situation escalated to an armed standoff between Vest and law enforcement at around 11:45 pm.
When Sgt. Phil Engstrom arrived at the family home on Lois and Candice Streets he discovered Vest's 16 year old son in the yard, standing by the back fence. However the boy refused to leave, apparently preferring to remain with his father and siblings, under siege. Engstrom was thus forced to take the child into protective custody against his will.
This only enraged Vest farther, and negotiators from the Hill Country Combined Special Operations Unit struggled in vain to persuade him to release the other three children, aged 5,12 and 14 to safety. Instead, Vest opened a back door and pointed a handgun at the police, before ordering his children into a back bedroom. This was a strategic error: two hours later the children climbed out of a window and escaped.
Vest was now faced with a disastrous situation. His children, the only collateral he had, were gone. How was
he going to get his wife to return to his side now? And yet still he refused to surrender. The standoff dragged on for hours, until police received a warrant for Vest's arrest on charges of aggravated kidnapping. They fired tear gas into the home at 5AM. Defiant to the end, Vest resisted even as he was engulfed in the choking fumes. Police ultimately found him holed up in a back bedroom. He was arrested and taken to Peterson Regional Medical Center before being transferred to the Kerr County Jail.
According to Sgt Mary Krebs of Kerrville Police Dept, Vest has a lengthy criminal history, which includes multiple arrests for assault and family violence. Indeed, officers were no strangers to the home on Candice Street, even before the hostage standoff.
''We all have dealt with him,” said Krebs, before praising the police for their professional handling of the incident and thanking God that the children were now safe. Whether or not they are happy, however, is an entirely different matter.
Tuesday December 22nd 2:58 PM
SWAT team surround six dogs in abandoned home
The incident began at 11:30 last night, as officers received a 911 call regarding shots that had rung out in the darkness engulfing Braker Lane and Metric Boulevard in North Austin.
Police then stopped a car that was driving erratically on Parmer Lane. Inside they found two young brothers, one of whom was behind the wheel and the other of whom was busy bleeding copiously from a potentially fatal knife wound. The brothers explained that they were fleeing a house in the 11400 block of Ptarmigan Drive, where they had become embroiled in an argument. When words failed to soothe tensions, their interlocutors had sought to resolve the conflict first with blades and then with bullets.
Police traveled to the house in question. The brothers' story checked out: spent shell casings were lying on the ground. At 2AM, believing that the individuals bearing arms were still inside, the police summoned a SWAT team to the scene.
The inhabitants of the neighboring homes were roused from their slumber and driven into the deep, dark December night- for their own safety, of course. With the area thus evacuated and the location secured, the SWAT team prepared for a potentially deadly confrontation. And so they waited.
Finally, at 6AM the SWAT team grew tired of waiting and penetrated the house. Inside they found some dogs: six Pitbulls to be precise. And some weapons. But the owners of the hounds and the weapons had long since vanished.
Were the members of the SWAT team disappointed, or pleased? After all, they are trained for these moments, and it is only natural for a man to desire opportunities to exercise his gift. What good is a pianist who does not play, after all? The irony for a trained SWAT officer is that it is far better for all of us if he is not required to practice his skills.
And so the SWAT team went home. The story is not finished however: police are investigating last night's violence, and intend to track down the stabbers, the shooters, the owners of the snarling hounds.
And as for what will become of those poor beasts, abandoned to the night and a heavily armed squad of police by their callous masters, well- there is no information.
Wednesday December 23, 5:57 PM
Cop sniffs paint in public; many mysteries left unresolved
To be arrested for huffing paint in a public place is unfortunate, but for it to happen twice looks like carelessness. So it is all the more baffling that the aerosol-inhaling suspect in question- Robert Craig Martin- is a police sergeant in South Austin who surely knows his way around the law.
Sgt. Martin's first encounter with the wrong side of justice occurred in Kyle on December 16th, as he was surprised by colleagues in a Loew's parking lot at 3pm. The police had been called out to deal with a man who had been observed sniffing from an aerosol can, just as everybody else was going about their Christmas shopping. Martin was charged with illegal possession and use of glue or paint. But clearly that warning was insufficient, for this past Tuesday Sgt. Martin was arrested again for the same transgression in an apartment complex located at 3001 Colonial Parkway in Cedar Park. Briefly detained in Williamson County Jail, he paid bail and is on the street again.
This is a very strange case. Usually paint and glue are abused by the mad, the homeless, the terminally unemployed and street kids. It is true that for those seeking a quick escape from reality, inhalants can provide a gateway to hallucinations, a distorted sense of time and space, and a fleeting sense of euphoria. But these phenomena are swiftly followed by a harsh comedown, vomiting, headaches and (in the case of glue) a nasty rash around the nose and mouth that makes the user's recreational preferences embarrassingly obvious. And let us not forget the threat of brain damage, or even death as the glue/paint sniffer chokes to death on his own vomit. Little wonder then that adults with paying jobs who have access to other highs, legal or otherwise, tend to use them.
And so mystery is piled upon mystery. Was Sgt. Martin short of money? Or did he seek to avoid the more serious legal problems that arise when an individual illegally obtains prescription drugs or proscribed substances? But if so, then why didn't he wait until he got home? Perhaps he didn't want the smell of paint to linger in his apartment. But even so, why not drive to abandoned country road? Were these public acts of paint sniffing a cry for help? Also, Martin is assigned to supervise detectives in South-Central Austin, which fact inevitably recalls the question asked by the Roman poet : Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Whatever the answers, this is ultimately a very sad story. On Wednesday Austin Police chief Art Acevedo himself expressed disappointment, pointing out that the department has 'services' available for officers and that “there is really no excuse for that type of behavior.” Help is on offer for Sgt. Martin; let us hope that he avails himself of it quickly.
In the meantime, Sgt. Martin has been placed on restricted duty. For as Acevedo told local media on Thursday, an arrested cop cannot enforce the law. And for this relief, much thanks.
Friday January 15th, 2:49 PM
Originally published on Examiners.com 2009-2010