But the inmate also had a soft side, composing poetry and writing heartfelt letters to Price, Gilbert Melendez, and Schone-mann himself. Jacque Hilburn-Simmons is an award-winning journalist who has been writing professionally for 30 years. Simons knew Deeb: he was a 23-year-old Jordanian immigrant who ran the Rainbow Drive Inn, a convenience store across the street from the home. Hawkins, TX 75765 Century 21 First Group - Lindale 0.35 ACRES $25,000 169 W Holly Trl, Hawkins, TX 75765 0.5 ACRES $20,000 W Bent Bow Ln, Hawkins, TX 75765 Keller Williams Realty-Tyler 0.5 ACRES $20,000 Saddle Horn Ln, Hawkins, TX 75765 Keller Williams Realty-Tyler 0.26 ACRES $22,500 Lot 6 FM 2869, Two years later, Janelle Moore, a senior forensic scientist with the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, made a remarkable discovery: A full DNA profile from an unidentified man she was confident was the killer. Honestly, I have not killed anyone. He had been working on the lake murders in his spare time, he told his boss, and he wanted permission to take over the case. PEREZ, Robert Anthony Martinez Thompson was making a chocolate cake, and Jill, who had recently lost a lot of weight, asked for a slice. In addition, Owen hired a former president of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, Thomas Krauss, to review Homer Campbells conclusions; Krauss pronounced Campbells methodology well outside the mainstream. The lawyers then found that in August 1984, just two months after Campbell had testified against Spence, he made a mistake that called his expertise into question: he positively identified the remains of a woman alongside a highway in Arizona as those of a missing Florida teenager by comparing the dead womans teeth with an enhanced photo of the teenagers teeth. Reporters wanted a cut-and-dried case, he remembered. ROBERSON III, Mariano Juarez After his direct appeal had been denied, the former shop-keeper, who never wavered in his protestations of innocence, had resolved to free himself: sitting on the floor of his cell at the Ellis Unit, hed studied law books and typed out cases, trying to learn the rhythms of legal writing. Weve updated the security on the site. Melendez was still wary of false assurances, and he was tight-lipped about what Dannen had promised. Price began to work the murder, but within days, she learned that someoneeither from the sheriffs office or the DAs officehad been making calls to the Dallas County crime lab, where Whites body had been sent, to ask for the preliminary autopsy results. A knife, a sex crime, a violent man: Simons was sure he was on to something. Okay, now Im finished.. "We all hung out at the point it was the place to be if you were a kid.". ROSALES, Vaughn On February 16, 1994, Schonemann got his answer. Spence found himself with no lawyers. In 2009, Portland police sent old evidence to the state crime lab to see if new DNA techniques might turn up any leads. ASHBROOK. He sent McLemore to visit Schonemann, who handed over trial transcripts and case briefs for them to read. Who had been the caller? We held Truman on a pedestal for so long. Im really getting tired of this shit, Spence whispered to his father, Edwin, before being sent to the Ellis Unit, outside Huntsville. Thirty years later, Suzanne's mother is uncomfortable speaking publicly about her daughter's murder, said Mrs. Lane, who spoke for the family. There theyd seen the kids, whom Spence enticed into the car with the promise of beer and weed. Dannen and Reaves, as Williamss lawyer, arranged for all the evidence to be tested at a lab in California named Forensic Analytical, and the DNA results came back in November 2000: the semen did not belong to either Washington or Williams. That October, Feazell announced that his office was steadily putting together a puzzle where someone is trying to hide some of the key pieces., One month later, the puzzle was finished. Texas didnt start tracking DNA until 1995, the Oregonian reported, by which time McFadden was already on death row. The following summer, in August 1987, Williams went on trial. Mrs. Lane said no one was especially concerned when Suzanne and Gena were a little late coming home from their night out at the lake, but as the minutes turned to hours, panic set in. Copyright 2023 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 'There are indications of both gun wounds and knife wounds. "Where she was found was open to the public. Save to an Ancestry Tree, a virtual cemetery, your clipboard for pasting or Print. In the end, she went on, justice had been delivered when one dogged police officer, Truman Simons, volunteered to pursue the investigation., Spence by this time had grown resigned to his fate. All of his criminal history and police contacts and even address information is all from about three counties in Texas. Franks had originally told a newspaper reporter that when his son didnt return home, he became anxious that Kenneth might be in trouble and went out looking for him at four-thirty in the morning. She had been. He wasnt very intelligent. She and her girlfriend had broken up at the time of her disappearance, Bluffington said. Ive got to go to Texas and find out what the hell happened, he told her. But the body count left by the Animal apparently extended well beyond East Texas, according to the new DNA evidence uncovered in October by the genealogy lab. Thompson tidies the grave and inspects the mementos left by visitorsflowers, coins, ceramic unicorns (Jill loved unicorns, she explained). Weeks stretched into years and then into decades. Discussing the case had become so painful that she and Thompson quit talking about it. He also was charged with cutting the throat of his nephew, Matthew Birkinbine of Euless, and clubbing another nephew, Chad Beasley, 9, of Arlington, with a shotgun before throwing him out a second-floor window. Spence, unaware that he might be a suspect, offered to help the officers in their investigation. He was held for questioning for two weeks. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph), Farm-to-Market 2659 in Hawkins was part of the search area during the manhunt for Jerry McFadden in Hawkins. Somebody went in there looking for something, she told me years later, recalling the strangeness of the case. Winona (9 miles) Big Sandy (9 miles) Owentown (14 miles) He still thought hed be exonerated.. GARDNER. When investigators spoke to him, he told them he "kind of thought his mom just moved on.". And before that horrible summer of 1986 drew to a close, a contingency of residents, still reeling from loss, would be demanding prison reform from Texas lawmakers, so no other town would have to suffer a similar fate. You have permission to edit this article. The police had seen the letter, and theyd questioned Frueh back in 1982 before letting him go. Again he was given the death penalty. He wouldnt be the first inmate to falsely confess, thinking, They cant convict me, because I didnt do it. If he did say such things, he couldnt have realized the scenario that would be created by the bite marks and the company of snitches.. Desperate to keep the case open, Owen and Schonemann filed a motion to amend the judgment, and four months later the court granted them an evidentiary hearing on the cases exculpatory evidence. Allen never disclosed anything from the file to the defense. The nightmare didn't seem real to Suzanne's aunt and uncle, then or now. I called him several more times through the summer, and in our talks he turned often to Spence, saying he had all kinds of photos of the inmate and letters he had written. Spence had, however, been informed that he was a suspect by then. The purpose of one of Prudhomme's moves was to escape an abusive relationship and she arranged for her two sons live with their grandparents, Bluffington said. For Simons, this was a promising start, and later that afternoon he and Baier sat down to interview Kelley, who had also been a friend of Jills. I was afraid to die, he told. Wood County authorities protested vigorously after learning McFadden intended to settle in the Hawkins area. Flowers added to the memorial appear on the bottom of the memorial or here on the Flowers tab. Others told her about special treatment that informants got from Simons, who gave them cigarettes, food, and time alone with their wives and girlfriends. He always told me hed be dead before the truth came out, remembered June. Former classmate James Graham still has his class yearbooks from his days at Hawkins High School, but rarely looks at them. Other officers werent so surprised. Simonss exchanges with the Melendez brothers had never been revealed to Spences defense lawyers. WILLIAMS, Nanon Mckewn Baier and Salinas decided theyd focus on the rest of the city and leave the jailhouse world to theirold colleague. Me and some friends of mine from Fort Worth, you know, we did that, we took care of them. When Gilbert didnt believe him, Spence described how hed picked up the teenagers at the tables. Correction: the original story listed the name of victim Suzanne Denise Harrison, as Denise Harrison. Schonemann visited Tony and Gilbert again. The 16-year-old's remains were found in the Calder Road oil field in 1986, two years after she went missing. Everyone's worst fears were realized a few days later. Ive seen a lot of gory things, Salinas later told a Waco reporter. All he was waiting on was his final chapter: the exoneration of Tony Melendez. Jan. 1, 1974. The girls cashed it at a supermarket and drove to Kenneths house. Feeling buoyed, Schonemann and Schwartz, now joined by Ken Driggs, decided to again attack the only physical evidence against Spence: the bite marks. The only adult (victim) that is still living cannot talk and is not expected to live. ", The day she and Gena disappeared wasn't anything out of the ordinary. HERNANDEZ. Spence had grown so dependent on their conversations that he would sometimes call Simons at home, waking him up to talk. I believe that. McLemore sent out copies of the TRCs brief to journalists, trying to get attention for Spence; he also made a case for the inmates innocence in the March 1997 issue of Pardos monthly political newsletter, Capitol Watch. He and Melendez drove the bodies to Speegleville and dumped them there. Barber assisted in the search area after the victims were reported missing. Dannen and Blum also tracked down Truman Simons, who was still a sheriffs deputy in Waco. Vic Feazell was taking over the case and appointing Truman Simons as his investigator. I dont know if I want to see an innocent man get freed or if I just so deeply want to know who the guilty people are. Kenneth told his father that they were going to Koehne Park, which was directly across the lake from Speegleville Park. Failed to delete memorial. "It was a pretty cold-hearted thing," said Holeman, a former Big Sandy police officer. Several persons of interests have been identified but authorities currently do not have enough to officially name anyone as a suspect, Bluffington said. The Rev. McLennan County DA John Segrest ordered that a sample be sent away for DNA testing and received results in February 2001. Melendez, who was most recently denied parole in May 2016, asserted his innocence until the end, says Jan Thompson, the aunt of one of the victims, who Melendez often called and wrote. The murders took place during a time when the state of Texas was reducing its prison populations to save money, free up space and avoid building new prisons. Places Near Hawkins with Similar Businesses. He had taken her underwear and put it around her throat and twisted and twisted. I was very fond of David, Schonemann told me. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. Please contact Find a Grave at [emailprotected] if you need help resetting your password. There, in the dirt, lay a gold bracelet. I told her I was exhausted after talking with Baier for five hours. The sponsor of a memorial may add an additional. The first body was found on April 6, 1984, when the family dog of Heidi Frye brought her skeletal remains to her home on Ervin Street in League City, Texas, League City Police Chief Gary Ratliff told reporters at a news conference Monday. Beginning in 2009, he and Reaves had been in a three-year tussle with the FSA lab after they had tried to take the DNA evidence to another lab for new testing; when FSA refused to release it and demanded an additional $35,000 to write a final report, Reaves had threatened to sue. Chad Beasley, 9, the son of another relative, was treated for a broken leg and released. Those kids were stabbed forty-eight times. This flower has been reported and will not be visible while under review. He was violent with women, finding pleasure in stalking and then overpowering females that interested him, according to officials and prison records. Still, the defense attorneys made a miscalculation in their overall strategy. They had hoped to introduce evidence showing that the crime could have been committed by two other menJames Bishop, a former Waco resident who had moved to California right after the murders and then been arrested for raping and attempting to kill two high school girls on a beach, and Ronnie Breiten, a man who had been seen in bloody clothes after a night fishing at the lake. He thought he could outsmart Simons, she said, and used the jailer to get phone call privileges with Juhl. By the time he got out of prison, he had become entranced by the biker lifestyle. Even if someone elses DNA is found, the state can be expected to argue that that doesnt prove Tony is innocent, only that another person was involved in the crime. Rob Owen, now a clinical professor at Northwestern University School of Law, is also pessimistic about Melendezs chances, having worked similar innocence cases. He also built friendships with more people around Waco, sometimes crashing on their couches when his reporting kept him late. Melendez gave it some thought. The next day, Simons pulled all the police reports that had been filed in the case and, with the help of Baierwhom Scott assigned to assist Simonsbegan looking for any leads that hadnt been exhausted. Blood samples were analyzed. GARZA Simons went back to the inmate, even taking him to Koehne and Speegleville parks the next morning; over two days, Melendez gave three statements that included other discrepancies, such as different times for when he and Spence arrived at Koehne Park. And You Thought Feral Hogs Were Bad. I thought you might like to see a memorial for Gena Lee Turner I found on Findagrave.com. A second wrote that the marks were more likely than not made by insects or artifacts. If the purpose of the exercise, he continued, was to match these marks to a set of teeth, it borders on the unbelievable. A third thought that some contusions on one body were probable human bite marks, but he couldnt match any of the molds to them. He had recently received a letter from Dannen saying that a breakthrough with the DNA testing was imminent. They left him standing near a blue-and-white Bronco-type vehicle and reported the incident to authorities. Melendez had always denied any involvement in the lake murders, but now Simons, encouraged by the headway hed made with Spence, began to press the inmate. They interviewed countless suspects. After all these years, he doesnt remember exactly what he was doing on the night of July 13, 1982, but he knows he wasnt in Waco. Wed work ten hours a day, and I didnt have a car, so Id stay a week at a time. The lawyers found two other jailhouse inmates who had not testified but nevertheless claimed that Simons had fed them information also, offering them leniency and favorable treatment if they turned the words into testimony. He had also recently undergone gall bladder surgery. At the time of the murders, hed been working at Burkes Aluminum, next door to the Rainbow Drive Inn; his girlfriend, Christine Juhl, worked in Deebs store, and Spence had spent many hours there, hanging out and playing video games. At the park entrance, Simons met a couple of other policemen and some sheriffs deputies. On May 1 a woman who lived a few blocks from White was violently attacked in her home. Would they be willing to identify the remains? They had planned to meet up with their friend, Bryan Boone, 19, and take a small cruise around the water. This article was published more than4 years ago. Spence was the kind of criminal Simons knew well: rough, poor, and full of swagger. She talked to inmates, some of whom claimed that Simons sources were liars. Deeb wasnt from here, he recalled. The couple had two children before divorcing several years later, after his repeated brushes with the law. The semen found on Whites body had never been tested for DNA, Dannen realized with excitement. HERNANDEZ, Ramon Pedro Dannen, on the ground in Texas, immersed himself in the case. CRUZ, James Schonemann and his team appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 1994. David Spences hideous cruelty permeates the testimony of each man, Jones wrote. (He was acquitted of all charges in June 1987, and four years later his libel suit concluded with a jurys awarding him $58 million, the biggest libel verdict in U.S. On May 4, 1986, McFadden kidnapped teenagers Brian Boone, Gena Turner and Suzanne Harrison from Lake Hawkins. Spence, in fact, was about to become the face of a national debate over capital punishment in Texas. Harper was no longer alive to talk; he had killed himself with a shotgun in 1994 when police tried to arrest him after hed attacked an elderly couple with a knife. Truman Simons (far right) helping carry the body of the teenagers out from the brush in Speegleville Park on July 14, 1982. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.. Clear skies. 'Two shotguns, a pistol and two knives were retrieved from the scene. He was obsessed, remembered Thompson, whom he talked to almost every week. A Town In Terror: How Jerry McFadden's 1986 crime spree stole the lives of Hawkins' best, brightest, By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONS, [email protected], A Town in Terror Part II: Hawkins mourns three young victims, as law enforcement searches for their killer, A Town in Terror Part III: Accused murderer Jerry McFadden takes hostage, escapes jail and sparks Texas-sized manhunt, A Town In Terror Part IV: A look into the legal challenges that freed serial rapist Jerry McFadden to commit murder, A Town in Terror Part V: Former hostage shares story of new life, healing power of giving back, Chapel Hill High School hosts Donuts with Dad, Smith County moving tax foreclosure auctions online, East Texas tree business shifts focus from removal to revival, With 'Dilbert' discontinued, we want to hear from you. There is far too much doubt to carry out an execution. While looking up these records on microfilm would be a chore, with online Hawkins obituaries, all you need is a name, state of death, and year of death. Its immoral to go forward with this much doubt.. Alvin A mold was promptly made of Williamss teeth too. Though several people had seen them arrive at Koehne, and Raylenes car was found there, no one had seen them leave. Sorry! "You're standing there, you see it, but you don't believe it," Mrs. Lane recalled recently, wiping away tears. The two lawyers hit the road, driving all over Central Texas to interview as many original witnesses and jurors as they could find. Hopper learned that police had used DNA information in public genealogy databases to identify DeAngelo. For Fred, Texas was as exotic as a foreign country, remembered Lawrence Wright, a staff writer for the New Yorker (and a former TexasMonthly staffer), who hosted Dannen and Blum in his home, in Austin. McFadden was condemned for raping and beating Ms. Harrison, a high school cheerleader, then strangling her with her own underwear. Waco had been having a violent summer; it was July 14, and already a dozen people had been murdered in the city of 100,000. Authorities were eager to locate the unkempt man. "You never get over it, you just learn to live with it. After three months, Dannen and Blum returned to New York. Harrison's body was found the next day on Barnwell Mountain in Gilmer. One thing Dannen was particularly struck by in the writ was the blood-spatter report. He was known to camp not too far from the point, where rolling waves crashed against the rugged shoreline and pretty girls flirted with the guys. The two men started discussing the idea that maybe, like Ted Bundy, Spence had a split personality, and Chili was his evil half. Michael Anthony Who would do something like this? He walked with a limp and went by the nickname Lucky. She was a tomboy who had grown up wanting to be a cop, like her grandfather, and joined the Detroit Police Department in 1977. Williams put down his fork. Now, Dannen told Williams, DNA testing might prove irrefutably that he had not been Whites assailant. Whether youre a lifelong resident of D.C. or you just moved here, weve got you covered. We used to fight. For one thing, Simons wasnt filing any reports. GENTRY, Michael Dean It was around six-thirty on a summer evening in 1982, and the 39-year-old officer had just returned to his squad car after visiting his wife, Judy. For the first time in years, Thompson felt calm. In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Hopper, the Portland detective, and her partner traveled to Texas to take more samples from McFaddens family members. The original case seemed to be unraveling before the lawyers eyes. But as spring turned to summer, the limelight had grown dark: in June, Dallas television station WFAA ran a ten-part investigative series on Feazell and his office, accusing him of, among other things, dismissing DWI cases in exchange for money.