Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

  • More concerns arise over daycare center

    NEWS Graphic for Treehouse Daycare storyFILE PHOTO

    By Chris Edwards

    CROCKETT – A series of videos shared to social media alleging incidents of abuse at a Crockett daycare facility have parents and residents voicing opinions and concerns.

    Paola Mendez, a former employee of Treehouse Academy, who also had children under the facility’s care,

    has shared video that she obtained, which was taken by surveillance cameras at the facility. Mendez said that her two-year-old son had been crying and behaving strangely at home, which began an investigation into the facility last year, and resulted in criminal charges against three past employees, which ultimately was no-billed by a Houston County grand jury in early December.

    The former employees – Shaquill Johnson, Sekelthia Jackson and Sabrina Griffin – were charged in April and May last year with abandoning or endangering children.

    Mendez said that the videos she posted to Facebook were not among the evidence presented to the grand jury last year. The surveillance footage Mendez recovered originally, and which was used in the investigation last year, was different than the videos she obtained from an attorney and shared to social media.

    Until recently, Mendez, along with seven other parents, were hoping to have the cases reopened under a different charge, but the attorney they were talking to did not take the case. According to Mendez, the attorney said the prospective plaintiffs had no case, but the parents are talking to other attorneys at present.

    Initially, Mendez said she did not wish to be part of a lawsuit, but decided to join in and pursue it after she was fired from the facility.

    Mendez said she began noticing scratches on her son’s chin when he was a baby, but did not think anything of it. She said she also ignored bruises and bumps, assuming it was from rough play. On the videos, in which all of the individuals’ faces have been obscured by emoticons to protect privacy, alleged incidents of dragging children and hitting subjects are depicted.

    Another parent, Jennifer Carroll Kulms, posted two videos to Facebook and various Houston County-related pages within the site, which show alleged abuse at Treehouse. Kulms stated in her post that her son “regressed on potty training” and began having nightmares “and acting out,” which she alleges is a result of experiences he encountered at the daycare. In one video, Kulms states that an individual hit her child and commands him to roll over and go to sleep. In the other, an individual is heard saying “Stop all that whining.”

    In the videos viewed by the Courier from Kulms, the footage appears to be a cellphone capture of a surveillance feed, with music playing, however, a slapping sound can be heard in the first video.

    According to the facility’s handbook given to parents for the year 2020-21, on page 17, Treehouse’s overriding philosophy as to behavior guidance is that “children are important,” and as such the facility’s staff is to protect the safety of the children.

    Among the actions forbidden by Treehouse staff members, according to the document are physical or mechanical restraint, subjection of a child to emotional or physical abuse and under the header “Discipline,” it states that corporal punishment will not be used as a form of punishment at the center.

    Mendez worked at the facility for six years and had two children there. She said she began working there after enrolling her daughter. Mendez was fired from Treehouse by Lyndsey Rice, the facility’s administrator.

    Following the grand jury’s no bills, Rice said she had no comment on the matter. “I’m not going to comment on anything, because I have not been told anything yet. I don’t want to make any comments right now, because that has not even been told to me yet. I just would like to not make any comments at this time,” she said.

    Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar said at the time that the reason for the no bills was that the jury did not feel there was enough probably cause for arrests or charges to move forward, and will not proceed to trial unless another grand jury finds probably cause with additional evidence.

    “I don’t find it right that they dropped the charges,” Mendez said. Mendez added that the DA had said that any injuries and evidence such as bruises were not documented, a factor that complicated any legal action moving forward in the case last year.

    With the video postings and a series of replies on social media regarding them, the hashtag “#shutdowntreehouseacademy” has emerged. Mendez said for the parents who are expressing their concerns and experiences with the facility, “we either want it shut down, or want some type of justice.”

    Mendez said that her son was scared of two of the workers who were charged last year, and said she feels guilt for not recognizing what was happening to her son. “A daycare is supposed to be a safe place for your kids, not their worst nightmare,” she said.

  • Mother and son arrested

    IMG 2052COURTESY PHOTO Confiscated narcotics

    By PCE Staff

    A mother and son were charged with felonies after the search of their residence on the north end of Polk County.

    On Tuesday, officers with the Corrigan Police Department, assisted by deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Precinct 3 Constable’s office, executed a search warrant and arrest warrant at the residence of a person described as a “known drug dealer” in Corrigan.

    After a lengthy investigation, officers were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Eric Emerson, 39, of Corrigan, for delivery of marijuana. Officers were also able to obtain a search warrant for his residence in the city limits of Corrigan.

    Upon arrival to the residence, Emerson met officers on the front porch, at which time, he was taken into custody without incident for the arrest warrant. Officers entered the premises and were met by a woman identified as Laurie Stephens, Emerson’s mother. Stephens, 60, of Corrigan, was said to be uncooperative with officers and repeatedly insisted on going back inside of her bedroom once she was detained.

    A search of the residence yielded a variety of narcotics that included methamphetamine and marijuana. Several pipes used for smoking marijuana and methamphetamine, smalls scales, grinders, and several clear plastic baggies were also found in the residence.

    Emerson was charged with delivery of marijuana, a state jail felony; and possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor. Stephens was charged with possession of controlled substance, penalty group 1, a state jail felony; and possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor.

  • Mother turns self in after warrant issued in child’s death

    160117638 3022552544733404 8034020350753373087 nMUGSHOT Anna Marie Todd

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A mother is behind bars in connection with the death of her child.

    Anna Todd, 21, turned herself in on Monday after a warrant was issued for her arrest. Her arresting charge was injury to a child with serious bodily injury.

    Todd’s 16-month-old child died on Aug. 4, 2020, at the family’s home located in Wild County Subdivision. That day, Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives were called to the family home due to the 16-month-old receiving a gunshot wound to the chest area.

    It was determined through detective’s investigations that a firearm was left on a table next to the bed where the family was sleeping. The father of the child left for work with Todd overseeing the children.

    An older child picked up the firearm discharging the weapon one time into the victim who was lying on the bed. The child victim was transported to Memorial Herman Hospital arriving at 10:30 a.m. and pronounced deceased at 10:35 a.m.

    An autopsy of the child was conducted at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences which along with the medical examiners findings, evidence discovered at the scene and witness statements obtained the case was presented to the Polk County District Attorney’s office which resulted in the arrest warrant being issued. Todd was booked into the Polk County Jail where she was released the following day on a $50,000 bond.

    Polk County Sheriff Lyons wishes to express to the public the importance of firearm safety and allowing child access to unsecured firearms inside your home. If any citizen wishes to receive professional awareness to firearm safety, Lyons ask that you contact his office at 936-327-6810.

  • Officials warn of unemployment identity fraud

    NEWS Graphic for Unemployment ientity theftFILE PHOTO

    By Chris Edwards

    Officials and the Texas Workforce Commission are warning the public about a rise in identity theft tied to unemployment benefits.

    Last week Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a news release highlighting the wave of fraudulent unemployment claims using stolen identities, statewide. “Unscrupulous criminals are victimizing Texans by stealing their identities and filing false unemployment claims,” Paxton said.

    Paxton urged Texans who have received documents from TWC regarding benefit claims they have not made to report the claims and to “take appropriate steps to protect your identity.”

    According to TWC, identity theft is one of the fastest-growing internet crimes in the country, with cases happening at record rates. The TWC unemployment insurance division’s primary goal is to pay benefits to recipients as soon as possible, according to its website, but to also implement and maintain rigorous measures to identify and prevent fraud.

    Unemployment benefits identity theft occurs when a fraudulent claimant uses another person’s personal information, such as their name and Social Security number to file a claim in order to collect unemployment benefits.

    “A growing cybercrime community on the Dark Web traffics in these stolen identities, passing them from hackers to fraudsters seeking to monetize your information,” a TWC news release stated.

    According to TWC, when a claim is submitted for unemployment benefits, letters are sent out to both the employer as well as the claimant in order to confirm the application.

    When someone receives a letter from TWC asking to verify an identity when a claim was not filed should report the incident to TWC, via its identity theft portal, located at https://www.twc.texas.gov.

    From the period of March of last year to April of this year, of the 4.48 million UI claims received by TWC, more than 611,000 were tagged as suspicious.

    The AG’s website also has resources explaining what identity theft is and what to do if one’s identity is stolen.

  • One arrested in murder case

    052021 suspectMUGSHOT Emmanuel Smith

    By Tony Farkas

    CLEVELAND — Two people have been arrested in the April 22 shooting death of a Cleveland resident.

    Emmanuel Smith, 20, a resident of the Porter/New Caney area, was arrested in Montgomery County in connection with the shooting death of Clay Heard. A second suspect, who was not identified at this time, is currently being held in Montgomery County Jail on drug charges.

    Detective Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto Sheriff’s Office said that the two men were found in the Home Depot parking lot in Conroe and were arrested by tactical officers of the Houston Police Department and agents of the Department of Homeland Security.

    Heard, who is from Cleveland, was found shot in the head in a ditch in south San Jacinto County, and police began investigating the death as a homicide. Over time, SJCSO detectives, Texas Rangers, Houston Police, Homeland Security and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.

    The arrest involved a tactical team because it was believed that the two men were most likely to be armed, Sharpen said.

    The case remains under investigation; however, Sharpen said the crime appears to be drug-related.

    According to reports, on April 22, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the SJCSO received a call about an unresponsive male laying in the ditch, about two miles down Forest Service Road 201 from FM 1725 in the Cleveland area, deep inside the National Forest.

    Deputies arrived and found the victim, who had been shot one time in the head, and then immediately notified the SJCSO Detective Division.

    Smith has been charged with first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. He is being held on a $1 million bond.

  • One arrested in shooting incident

    042921 shootingMUGSHOT Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr.

    Special to the News-Times

    WILLIS — A Willis man was seriously injured after being shot three times in the stomach on Wednesday, and a suspect in in custody on a charge of aggravated assault.

    Misael Ortuno Gomez Jr. is being held in the San Jacinto County Jail on a $100,000.00 bond after being charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

    According to SJCO reports, on April 21 at about 5 p.m., deputies were notified about a shooting in the 100 block of Foxfire Lane in Willis. The victim was shot three times in the midsection of his body.

    Law enforcement personnel immediately began lifesaving procedures, along with the Bear Creek Fire Department firefighters and EMS crews. The victim was then taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he went into surgery and was listed in stable condition.

    The report states that further investigation revealed the name of the suspect, who had fled back into the house at the original address and barricaded himself in.

    The suspect reportedly was heavily armed, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, its 30-man SWAT Team, a robot, Bomb Squad, and two drones were sent to the scene.

    Officers began a search of the area, which was about eight to 10 acres large with outbuildings and houses; however, the suspect had fled out the back door of the house, the report states. He was arrested Thursday without incident.

  • One arrested in single-car crash

    031121 crashMUGSHOT Blake Ellery Partain

    TCNS staff

    APPLE SPRINGS — A Kennard man was arrested Sunday for a one-vehicle crash that left a woman dead.

    Blake Ellery Partain, 29, is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter in connection with the death of Chelsea McBride, 29.

    According to reports from the Department of Public Safety, troopers were notified of a one-vehicle crash on FM 357, about 2 ½ miles north of Apple Springs.

    The preliminary crash investigation indicates at about 2 a.m., a 2009 Dodge pickup, reportedly driven by Partain, was traveling north at an unsafe speed when the driver drove off the roadway to the right, then crossed back over the roadway and struck a tree. The pickup then caught on fire.

    McBride was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Trinity County Justice of the Peace, the report states.

    During the investigation, Partain was determined to be intoxicated and taken into custody, the report states.

    This crash remains under investigation.

  • Parents allege child abuse, seek answers

    IMG 7787ALTON PORTER | HCC Exterior of the Treehouse Academy, a daycare in Crockett, Texas.

    By Alton Porter

    A group of parents who had children at a Crockett day care are still searching for answers after a grand jury voted to no-bill a case in December.

    Criminal charges will not move forward against past employees — Shaquill Johnson, Sekelthia Nicole Jackson and Sabrina Griffin — of Treehouse Academy at 301 Renaissance Way for alleged child abuse. They were charged in April and May 2020 with abandoning or endangering children at the day care.

    All cases were closed after a Dec. 2, 2020 Houston County grand jury hearing returned a no-bill. That decision means the jury did not feel there was enough probable cause for arrests or charges to move forward, Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar said in an interview with Polk County Publishing Company.

    Therefore, the case will not proceed to trial unless another grand jury finds probable cause with additional evidence.

    As prosecutors are not present in the jury room during a vote, no explanation was given as to the grand jury’s decision, Kaspar said, adding she was unaware of any further investigation into the alleged incidents.

    The investigation began after Treehouse Academy teacher Paola Mendez, whose two-year-old son attended the day care at the time, came forward with video evidence that her child had been mistreated or abused by some of the staff. Mendez said her son got to the point where “everyday he was crying all day” at school and at home in the middle of the night, behaving strangely at home and mimicking what he experienced at the day care.

    In an interview with Polk County Publishing Company, Mendez said her son was “scared of Shaquill (Johnson) and (Sheklethia Nicole Jackson) due to alleged mistreatment,” adding, when she arrived at work each morning, “once he would see them, he would start screaming and crying, and he would continue to hide.”

    Mendez said this was very confusing and concerning and wanted to know what was going on, so she obtained access to videos taken by surveillance cameras at the facility. In viewing the videos, she saw employees spanking and hitting her son and other children; dragging children by their arms, legs and ears; grabbing them by their hair; slapping one in the mouth; cursing to some of them; and other unacceptable things.

    Mendez said she was later fired by Treehouse Academy owner Lyndsey Rice. She obtained copies of videos showing children at the day care allegedly being abused from her attorney. She said many of the videos were not included in the montage that was presented to the grand jury.

    “They do not show the dragging” of a child, she said. “They do not show the slamming him in the mat. They do not show them picking him up waist-high and then slamming him down and dragging him off.”

    She also said grand jurors were not shown a child being grabbed by the hair to make her sit, another child who was grabbed by the ear to make him sit, or one who was “popped in the mouth.”

    In addition to reporting the alleged abuses to police detectives and her lawyer, Mendez said she and three other parents upset by the alleged mistreatment of their children reported the information they had to the district attorney’s office.

    Physical discipline of children in a day care setting is prohibited, Mendez noted.

    “You cannot discipline a child (with) anything physical. You cannot do anything of that matter. You cannot spank them. You can’t pinch them. You can’t pull their hair. You can’t even thump them.”

    Mendez said she and seven other parents whose children allegedly were abused at the day care were hoping their attorney and the district attorney would reopen the cases under a different charge.

    “We were all kind of hoping to do that,” she said. “And what we understood was they were supposed to take it back to the grand jury. And now, they’re saying that they’re not because there’s no new evidence, which that still does not make sense to me. I think that they have enough.”

    Asked for her reaction to the charges against her former employees and the grand jury’s no bills, the academy’s owner declined comment on the matters.

    “I’m not going to comment on this,” Rice said. “I’m not going to comment on anything, because I have not been told anything yet. I don’t want to make any comments right now, because that has not even been told to me yet. I just would like to not make any comments at this time.”

    Allegations of abuse toward the children at Treehouse Academy in 2020 resulted in Johnson, Jackson and Griffin being charged for the alleged offenses and arrest warrants issued by officers of the Crockett Police Department (CPD).

    After the first warrant was issued for Johnson, she turned herself in to authorities April 26, 2020, on the charge of abandoning or endangering a child — a state jail felony offense — at Treehouse Academy after the initial stages of an investigation. She was released on a $50,000 bond later that day.

    Jackson turned herself in to law enforcement personnel on the same charge the next day. She was released the day after on a bond in the same amount as Johnson’s.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Crockett police detectives issued an arrest warrant for Griffin, also on abandoning or endangering a child, and she turned herself in to the authorities the next day. She also was released from jail on bond, but one of a smaller amount.

    The allegations of abuse toward children at Treehouse Academy were in regard to the 2- to 3-year-old (children) class.

    In an April 16, 2020 statement, Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith said detectives met with the day care’s administrative personnel and obtained surveillance camera recordings during initial stages of the investigation. A follow-up statement on Monday, May 4, 2020 said the initial investigation began with abuse allegations in the two- to three-year-old classroom, but expanded to include all age groups and classrooms.

    Smith stated then that Treehouse Academy executives and staff members cooperated with police department detectives throughout the thorough investigation.

  • PCSO arrests 2 in drug sting

    SANDY LYNNE SWEETMUGSHOT Sandy Lynne Sweet

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Two suspects are behind bars after Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives and deputies conducted a drug sting on Sunday.

    PCSO narcotics division detectives and patrol deputies arrived at a residence on Boatdock Street in the scenic loop area to conduct an investigation into the possession of illegal narcotics. Detectives had received numerous tips in reference to the high traffic volumes and the belief of narcotics transactions taking place at the residence.

    RICK EDWARD RULEMUGSHOT Rick Edward Rule

    Detectives have been conducting a lengthy investigation into this residence due to the narcotics tips. While on scene, deputies identified Rick Edward Rule, 56, and Sandy Lynne Sweet, 58, inside the residence.

    During the investigation, probable cause was established for the search of the residence and a search warrant was obtained. A search of the residence revealed several firearms, methamphetamine, a large amount of what is believed to be heroin and fentanyl, as well as items used to ingest and distribute the narcotics.

    It was known to detectives that Rule was a convicted felon still out on parole and due to this fact, Rule was not legally allowed to possess firearms. Rule and Sweet were both charged with manufacture and delivery of methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, and Rule was additionally charged with tampering with evidence and four charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by felon.

  • PCSO arrests man in shooting death

    Dallas SimonDallas Simon

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – A man is behind bars after shooting his brother to death Sunday afternoon in Onalaska.

    Dallas Joseph Simon, 55, was arrested for murder after he shot his brother, 57-year-old Kevin Simon, to death after a brief altercation. Dallas Simon was booked into the Polk County Jail with a murder charge and a bond set at $100,000.

    The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from Dallas Simon who stated he and his brother, Kevin Simon, got into an altercation and he shot him. Deputies responded to the residence, off of May Drive in Polk County, and found Kevin Simon deceased at the property.

    Investigators arrived on scene and began to process the crime scene and interview witnesses. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Robert Johnson conducted the inquest and ordered an autopsy to be performed by Jefferson County.

  • PCSO seeking public’s assistance in locating burglar

    SUSPECT 2 UNKCOURTESY PHOTO Security camera footage of suspect

    By PCE Staff

    A burglar spotted in the act on security camera has been arrested, while another suspect remains at large.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call Tuesday from a citizen who was alerted by his home security cameras. Two male subjects were inside a building on the victim’s property, located near Mangum Road.

    The complainant provided an accurate description of the offenders as deputies responded to the area. Deputies and detectives quickly arrived on scene, located signs of forced entry into the building and observed several items of value placed by the door.

    After conducting a search of the area, one of the suspects seen on the complainant's security camera was located and detained. He was immediately identified as Gary Eugene Penton, Jr. and found to be in possession of an item stolen from the complainant's property.

    Penton, 47, of Livingston, was arrested without incident and booked into the Polk County Jail on the felony charge of burglary of a building.

    Detectives are attempting to identify the other suspect involved in the burglary. The Polk County Sheriff's Office has requested the public view the two surveillance video photos of the second suspect involved.

    If you recognize this suspect, or have information in this case or any other in Polk County, you are asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP. Tipsters can remain anonymous and could collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division may also be contacted directly to speak with a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks shooting suspect

    LE Flashing LightsFILE PHOTO

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    A 19-year-old female is still hospitalized after she was shot in Goodrich last week.

    On the night of Jan. 30, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the Siesta County Subdivision after receiving 911 calls of a shooting victim. At the scene, the 19-year-old female was found to have a single gunshot wound to her abdomen during an altercation involving several people that were attending a party at the location.

    Others that showed up believed to have escalated the altercation. The victim was transported to Kingwood Hospital where she is listed at this time in stable condition in the intensive Care Unit.

    Detectives have conducted interviews with several persons present at the time of the shooting and is asking that anyone with information to provide to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 936-327-6810.

  • PCSO seeks suspects in trailer theft

    SUSPECT TRUCK STOLEN CARGO TRAILERPHOTOS COURTESY OF PCSO A cargo trailer was stolen from an Onalaska residence on January 1, 2021.

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    ONALASKA – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is seeking assistance in obtaining information in regard to a theft that occurred on Jan. 1, at a residence in the Pine Harbor subdivision, in Onalaska.

    At approximately 2 a.m., the suspect(s) hooked up to the victim’s 2021 Cargo Express Enclosed Utility Trailer, and took it from the victim’s property.

    CARGO TRAILERCOURTESY PHOTO Cargo trailer

    Anyone who knows the identity of these suspects or has any information in reference to this case that will help with the investigation, is asked to submit a tip at p3tips.com, (the P3 App), or call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 936-327-STOP, where they can remain anonymous and may collect a cash reward for information leading to an arrest. People may also contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division directly and speak to a detective at 936-327-6810.

  • Police arrest sexual assault suspect

    crime stoppersMUGSHOT David Lynn Turner of Houston

    Special to the News-Times

    The San Jacinto and Montgomery County Sheriff’s offices are seeking potential victims in connection with an ongoing sexual assault case.

    According to a release from Multi-County Crime Stoppers, on May 4, the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office conducted a joint investigation into allegations of sexual assault made by several victims describing similar incidents.

    During the investigation it was learned that the suspect, David Lynn Turner of Houston, targeted several of his victims through various social media platforms and dating apps.

    The release states Turner, a former reserve Texas Peace Officer in Harris County between 2012 and 2015, is alleged to have driven the women to remote locations in San Jacinto and surrounding counties under the guise of "Ghost Hunting," where he would then force himself upon the women in various ways.

    As a result of the investigation, Turner was arrested on May 4 and charged with two counts of sexual assault, and currently is being held in the San Jacinto County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

    The release states that law enforcement officials believe Turner's activities began in December 2018 in the greater Southeast Texas region, with potential victims from Beaumont, Galveston, Katy, The Woodlands, Coldspring and Livingston.

    San Jacinto County and Montgomery County detectives continue to investigate, and are seeking contact with possible additional victims, the release states.

    Anyone with information or interactions associated with David Lynn Turner or similar incidents are encouraged to contact the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 653-4367 or the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at (936) 760-5800.

    To remain completely anonymous, call Multi-County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP (7867).

  • Police pursue, apprehend nude car thief

    Tyler County Sheriff OfficeLOGO Tyler County Sheriff Office

    By Chris Edwards

    WOODVILLE – A Jefferson County woman is in the custody of the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office following a police pursuit that began in Dam B and ended in Woodville.

    According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, on Monday, at approximately 7:25 a.m., a 911 call came in, reporting a nude woman standing on the side of the road. Deputies with TCSO and EMS headed toward the location, FM 92 North at county road 3715, as the caller had reported. The caller, who was a female passerby, told dispatch that she had stopped to check on the naked female subject, and in the process, a log truck driver had also stopped.

    While the deputies were heading to the location, the subject jumped into the driver seat of the vehicle and drove away with the caller’s two grandchildren in the backseat. The woman had reportedly offered the woman, who complained of thirst, a bottle of water, and when she went to open her trunk is when she took off with the car and children.

    Weatherford said that two minutes later, the deputies received word that the suspect dropped the children off at the Dam B Jiffy Mart at the intersection of FM 92 and US Highway 190. Weatherford said the two children were returned safely to their grandmother.

    The deputies were soon able to locate the stolen vehicle westbound on 190, and traveling at speeds of up to 95 mph.

    TCSO deputies and officers with the Woodville Police Department pursued the vehicle throughout the city of Woodville, and the pursuit ended on Wheat Street, right before 8 a.m.

    The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Lacie Cole, of Orange, and was taken into custody.

    During the pursuit, one eyewitness said the suspect was seen in the Walmart parking lot, where she backed into a patrol unit. Reportedly, she also traveled into opposite lanes of traffic during the chase.

    Cole was later evaluated at Tyler County Hospital, and according to Weatherford, the case is under investigation.

  • Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrests 9 in drug sting (GALLERY)

    LOU ANN HUDSONMUGSHOT LOU ANN HUDSON

    From the Polk County Sheriff’s Office

    Nine people are in custody after a successful drug sting conducted by the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office.

    On March 10, detectives with the PCSO narcotics unit assisted the criminal investigation division with an ongoing investigation re-garding an overdose, in which one person was found to be deceased and three others admitted into hospitals. The drug was believed to be cocaine laced with an un-known chemical.

    During the investigation, it became known to detectives that the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a very dangerous and deadly drug. The investigation led to information that the drug was possibly obtained from an unknown address off of E. Capps Road in Polk County from a person known as “Mom-ma Lou.”

    Detectives began investigating the E. Capps Road area, making contact with numerous residents to inquire about “Momma Lou” and her whereabouts. Narcotics detectives located Lou Ann Hudson, also known as, “Momma Lou,” just off of E. Capps Road.

    Narcotics Detectives also found many others to be at the residence and on the property, and were identi-fied as Justin Sanders, Sibbie Hoffer, Billy Lafour, Steven Shelby, Stacy Allen, Clinton Moore, Joshua Jones and Desiree Allen. While speak-ing with Momma Lou at the residence probable cause was obtained to apply for a search warrant, which was granted for the residence and property.

    Detectives conducted the search and found all above listed individuals to be in possession of what Narcotics Detectives knew to be Methamphetamine. Ad-ditionally items were found and seized from the resi-dence that are known to be used in the distribution of illegal narcotics.

    Hudson was placed under arrest and charged with Pos-session of Controlled Sub-stance. Sanders, Hoffer, La-four, Shelby, Allen, Moore, Jones and Allen were also all placed under arrest and charged with Possession of Controlled Substance.

    All the above listed de-fendants were taken to the Polk County Sheriff ’s Office Jail and booked in on their charges.

    **PLEASE BE ADVISED**

    The PCSO is seeing a dangerous trend of drug dealers and cartels cutting various drugs with fentanyl which is leading to death and/or serious hospitalizations. The public needs to be aware of the danger of using any controlled substance, as PCSO is seeing an emerging pattern of cases where fentanyl is unexpectedly being added to cocaine/methamphetamine and other drug combinations.

    BILLY LEE LAFOUR
    CLINTON WARREN MOORE
    DESIREE MICHELLE ALLEN
    JOSHUA DATHAN JONES
    JUSTIN TAYLOR SANDERS
    LOU ANN HUDSON
    SIBBIE CAROL HOFFER
    STACY MARIE ALLEN
    STEVEN ADAM SHELBY
    Previous Next Play Pause
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

     

  • San Jacinto County man injured in shooting

    San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department logo

    SJNT staff

    OAKHURST — A dispute between family members left an Oakhurst man injured, and his uncle arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

    Detective Sgt. Gary Sharpen of the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting occurred after Charles Tubbs shot his nephew, Elem Wynne III, had an argument.

    Tubbs allegedly discharged a 12-gauge shotgun at Wynne, hitting him in the neck.

    According to reports, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Walker County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a shooting victim located at Bubba’s gas station located off US 190 in Walker County.

    Authorities found Wynne in the parking lot of Bubba’s convenience store in Dodge with an apparent gunshot wound to his neck. Walker County emergency personnel and a DPS trooper were dispatched, and the trooper provided medical aide while he questioned the victim, who said he was shot by his uncle who lives off Harrison Road in Oakhurst.

    Reports indicate Wynne drove away from his uncle’s house after the argument, and ended up at Bubba’s. After treatment at the scene, Wynne was LifeFlighted to Houston for treatment.

    In the meantime, San Jacinto County deputies arrived at Tubbs’ residence, where it was determined that Tubbs was standing outside when an unfamiliar pickup truck pulled into his driveway. Tubbs told police he was not familiar with the vehicle and could not see the driver or passenger.

    The driver’s window came down, and Tubbs and Wynne continued an ongoing family dispute, reports state. It was then Tubbs reportedly discharged his 12-gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot in the direction of the vehicle.

    Wynne was struck in the neck and face, and then drove away, reports state.

    Sharpen said Wynne’s condition was unknown, but emergency personnel at the scene were confident the injuries were not life-threatening.

    Tubbs was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. He currently is being held on an undisclosed bond.

    This case is still under investigation and will be forwarded to the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office for further review.

  • Second arrest made in Paul case

    1 MUGSHOT Edwards 031621MUGSHOT Clara Kimble Edwards

    By Chris Edwards

    CROCKETT – A second arrest was made in connection with the disappearance of Faye Lynn Paul on Monday.

    Crockett Police Chief Clayton Smith announced on Monday that Clara Kimble Edwards, age 31, was taken into custody by investigators on the charge of Tampering with a Human Corpse, a second-degree felony. Edwards was apprehended with the assistance of the US Marshals’ Service, at her family’s home in Houston County.

    According to Smith, the arrest came about through the ongoing investigation into Paul’s murder. Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar approved of a warrant being issued for Edwards’s arrest.

    Crockett Police began investigating Paul’s disappearance in February of last year, when the 79-year-old Crockett woman’s Chevrolet Impala and her nephew, David Wayne Denson, were also missing. A Silver Alert was out for Paul, and the Houston County Courier was notified that Denson was wanted for questioning about his aunt’s whereabouts.

    Denson and the vehicle were both located, and the 25-year-old man was brought back to Crockett from Alamosa, Colo., where he was discovered, for questioning and on felony charges for violating an existing probation.

    Although Paul was not located after Denson was questioned, Smith announced in March 2020 that his department was actively investigating Denson for capital murder. Earlier this month, the case was presented to a Grand Jury, which returned a True Bill for the case. A True Bill indicates that enough evidence was presented to proceed with a trial.

    Smith added in a news release on Monday that Paul’s remains have yet to be recovered. “Investigators hope to one day be able to locate her and provide the family with some closure,” he stated in the release.

    Edwards is currently being held in the Houston County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Crockett Police are encouraging anyone with information about the case to contact them at 936-544-2021.

  • SJC deputies nab suspect with 13 lbs of meth

    Drug BustCOURTESY PHOTO Six Ziploc bags containing a total of 13.40 pounds of methamphetamines was discovered by San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies during a traffic stop conducted outside of Shepherd on Dec. 28. The discovery led to the arrest of Jorge Luis Baca Cuevas of Mexico.

    By Jason Chlapek

    SHEPHERD — A Mexican resident is behind bars after a routine traffic stop turned into a drug bust last week.

    Jorge Luis Baca Cuevas was stopped at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 28, after San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies conducted a routine traffic stop on U.S. Highway 59 just outside the Shepherd city limits. Baca Cuevas was stopped because the driver’s side tail lamp on his Honda Civic was not illuminated.

    During the stop, Baca Cuevas was identified through his Mexico-issued identification card. The deputy who conducted the stop had suspicion of criminal activity taking place.

    After receiving consent to search the vehicle, six Ziploc bags containing a crystal-like substance were discovered. The substance in the bags all tested positive for methamphetamine.

    “He picked up 13 pounds of meth in Pasadena and was on his way to Chicago, but we stopped him on a traffic violation in our county,” San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said.

    The meth weighed a total of 13.40 pounds and was worth approximately $500,000. Baca Cuevas was charged with manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance penalty group one, greater than four hundred grams.

    “I’m just glad that half a million dollars of narcotics have been taken off the streets,” Capers said. “This makes it safer for children.”

  • Suspect behind bars after scamming $42K

    Photo Zhang 6COURTESY PHOTO Hongwen Zhang, 32, was recently indicted by a Polk County grand jury for her role in a “secret shopper” scam that swindled a Livingston woman out of nearly $10,000.

    Special to the Enterprise

    LIVINGSTON – A woman is behind bars after scamming a Livingston woman and other people for a grand total of $42,000.

    On Nov. 27, law enforcement authorities with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested 32-year-old Hongwen Zhang, who was recently indicted by a Polk County grand jury for her role in a “secret shopper” scam that swindled a Livingston woman out of nearly $10,000.

    According to law enforcement reports, in March of this year, the victim was contacted by the defendant, or someone conspiring with the defendant, and they convinced the victim to act as a “secret shopper,” essentially someone who would visit local businesses and report back on the nature of the customer service received, the cleanliness of the store, etc. The scammers sent the victim several money orders as payment for the victim’s secret shopper services.

    It was not until the victim’s bank informed her that the money orders were fake that she realized she had been conned. But, by then, she’d already been convinced by the scammers to purchase several gift cards and provide them with the identifying information for the cards.

    The scammers used this information to transfer the nearly $10,000 stored on the cards to other gift cards. After receiving a report from the victim, investigators with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department were able to identify Zhang as a suspect.

    Zhang was tracked to a location in Houston, where investigators encountered her with 652 gift cards with more than $42,000 loaded onto them.

    “Because of the online and electronic nature of these types of crimes, most go unsolved,” stated Tommy L. Coleman, Special Crimes Prosecutor for the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. “But for the relentless investigation of this case by Polk County Sheriff’s Department Detective David Sottosanti, this case too, might have gone unsolved.”

    Zhang is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of conspiracy to commit fraudulent use/possession of identifying information, one count of conspiracy to commit fraudulent use/possession of credit card information and one count of theft from an elderly person as a party. The case is being prosecuted by Coleman. If convicted, Zhang faces up to 20 years confinement in a state prison.

    The investigation is still ongoing as it relates to the identification and apprehension of Zhang’s co-conspirators.