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Deputies close cold case

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By Tony Farkas
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Charles Dale ClaryCharles Dale ClarySHEPHERD — New information and a re-examination of evidence led San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies to make an arrest in a three-year-old homicide case.

Charles Dale Clary, 65, of Shepherd, was arrested Oct. 31 on a charge of murder in connection with the May 2019 murder of Rhonda Richardson, 59, who worked as a correctional officer at the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Richardson’s body was found in Sam Houston National Forest in May 2019. The investigator at the time, Detective Gary Sharpen, did not find enough evidence to point to a suspect, and then was sent on deployment.

Detective Omar Sheik said Sharpen returned recently, and the two began to re-examine the evidence.

Sheik said that in 2019, Richardson was looking for her dogs. which frequently go loose. He also said that Richardson and Clary were acquaintances, and that Richardson had approached Clary for help in the search.

Later that day, body was found on a trail in a wooded area off FM 2666; however, investigators initially thought the body was moved there.

Sheik said Clary was one that found the body and then had his nephew call the police, something the detective said was suspicious.

At this time, detectives did not reveal any causes for the crime.

Her remains were positively identified during an autopsy at the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Beaumont in 2019, and the medical examiner told investigators that no signs of sexual assault were found on the body. The report listed her cause of death as undetermined.

Sheik said the re-examination went smoothly, and was wrapped up in about 8 days

“It was the result of reopening the case and re-examining all the evidence,” he said. “We interviewed everyone listed as a witness and everyone in the neighborhood. We had a forensic investigation of cell phone records.”

Sheik said that one of the people in the neighborhood that was not found initially turned out to be an eyewitness and helped tie the suspect to the crime. Additionally, examination of cell phone traffic showed the suspect was very likely involved.

Also, investigators requested a review of the autopsy results, and a lot of questions about the crime were answered, giving investigators enough evidence for an arrest warrant, Sheik said.

The detective said there was no clear motive for killing her.

Clary currently is being held in San Jacinto County Jail on a $750,000 bond.

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