Monday, August 6, 2012

Ranger Cawthon counters claim of no unsolved murders

He seeks a 'grubstake' for his task forces

By The Legendary
Jim Parks

Waco – Unless you've seen some of the Texas Rangers' back trail, you wouldn't know it, but when you see a Ranger, you're looking at a special operations soldier.

History both ancient and recent bears out the truth of the tale as plain as day. These are the men and women designated by the Colonel of the Department of Public Safety and appointed by the Governor to teach the People of the State of Texas how to fight back against the depredations of predators.

Murderers, robbers, rapists - thieves of all types – and yes, dope peddlers, these are their targets.

But it doesn't stop there, and it never has, since the early days of the Austin Colony, or the settlements at Goliad and San Antonio, until now.

A Ranger is a specialist in marshaling the resources of Sheriffs, police, highway patrolmen, narcotics officers and auto theft specialists. Together, they will federalize cases if need be, work with prosecutors at any level in the system, and pull entire communities out of conditions that often approximate guerilla war, seeking lawful victory - one case at a time.

The truth is as plain as can be. Texas and Texans are under attack from bad folks who will kill you, take your possessions, burn your property, and sell dope to your kids and grandkids.

If that's not war, it will do just fine until the war gets here, to borrow a phrase from Sheriff Bell, one of the three lead characters in No Country For Old Men, a story of murder, drugs and money on today's Mexican border by novelist Cormac McCarthy.

The good news is simply this; the lawmen are winning.

Retired from 30 years as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Parnell McNamara and his sidekick Matt Cawthon, who is retired from the Texas Rangers, and now works as an employee of the Texas Department of Corrections seconded to the Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, came up with a plan in their campaign to seek election for Marshal McNamara as Sheriff of McLennan County.

They sold that plan to the voters in the Republican Primary and won going away, defeating Chief Deputy Randy Plemons by a wide margin.

Many of their supporters voted against conditions under the administration of Sheriff Larry Lynch, whose department has made repeated mistaken releases of violent offenders who were to have been kept in custody; overspent the corrections budget by a million dollars in a need to pay private corporation, CEC, Inc., to take care of McLennan County prisoners; ran out of money to provide courthouse security for judges, jurors, witnesses, and prosecutors.

That came under the heading of voting against something.

On the other side of the coin, voters flocked to the McNamara campaign to vote for two very positive programs:

If elected, the Marshal and his right hand man, the Ranger, intend to establish a Cold Case squad to clear as many of the 53 unsolved murders they have counted in McLennan County as possible. In fact, some veteran lawmen have volunteered to come out of retirement to help work the cases.

Secondly, they want to revive the McLennan County Drug Task Force because drugs are the root cause of most crime, and most important, people have no place to turn when drugs have a huge and frightening impact on their lives.

The promise of these two programs gave a lot of people a lot of hope.

Furthermore, he said, police and Deputies, federal narcotics agents and DPS Drug Service troopers can handle the problems with dope just fine. There is no need for a McLennan County Drug Task Force.

Confronted with the news, Marshal McNamara spit out the names of at least a dozen unsolved murder cases in one long breath. Ranger Cawthon took great umbrage with the statement about drug cases because the truth is, officers from multiple agencies just don't work well together. They don't like to let cops from rival agencies know the identities of their confidential informants, and they don't want police and agents from other jurisdictions to know exactly what is going on in their bailiwicks. So saith the Texas Ranger, Matt Cawthon.

Ranger Matt Cawthon took on these two questions:

Are there unsolved killings in McLennan County?

“First, it's a sad fact that there are unsolved murders in this or any other county in Texas. And when we discuss murders we also have to include missing persons who are presumed dead but the bodies have not been found yet.

“Case in point, Justin O'Brien has been a missing person in this county for years. He was a small time drug dealer who ran afoul of some prison gang members and his body has never been found. I have personally worked for years on the case and been involved in many digs to find the body and even drained a lake to try to find the body. This is currently a McLennan County Sheriff's Department unsolved case. O'Brien may have been living a lifestyle that many of us would disapprove of, but he was someone's son, and they grieve for their loved one.

“Of course, there are many others like the elderly couple who lived just off Lake Shore Drive in Waco. Mr and Mrs. Loving were brutally murdrered in their home, even after calling 911 the previous night.

“There was a murder at the convenience store at 5th Street and IH-35. A woman working the night shift was murdered and the case has never been solved.

“Many of the smaller communities have unsolved murders, too. Hewitt Police carry the case of the young man who was brutally stabbed and his throat cut after his estranged wife asked him to go by her apartment and get the childrens' lunch that she "forgot". It is suspected that the wife lured him there so that a male friend could kill him and make it look random.

“The Robinson Police have an unsolved murder that occurred on Gregg Road a few years ago. Again, it is believed that a woman convinced a boyfriend to kill her husband as the unsuspecting man went for his morning walk.

“There was a double-homicide at a computer shop in Robinson, too, that has never been solved.

For anyone to assume that this county has no unsolved murders or missing persons indicates that the person making that assumption has no facts in the matter.”

Is there a need for a Drug Task Force to work in McLennan County?

“Second, the illegal use and distribution of drugs is also another problem in this county. I have heard the statement from the current administration, 'We can't afford a drug unit,' and as a professional, experienced lawman, I ask, 'How can we afford NOT to have a drug unit?'

“Those of us in the law enforcement business know that most of the crimes committed in this or any other county are drug related.

“Criminals rob, steal, cheat, and kill for money to buy drugs. Mexican drug cartels are getting footholds in our society by smuggling drugs into and through our county. There is even an indication that cartels are buying land here for the purpose of storing, and in some cases manufacturing drugs.

“Now is not the time to give up the fight against drugs.

The current sheriff's adminstration has done just that...they gave up.

“Now, we have the opportunity to get back into the fight and stop the domino effect of theft, burglaries and violence that comes from the drug trade.

“The thought that letting another agency do our fighting for us has, quite frankly, not worked, and it was the coward's way. We have to meet this challenge head-on, and that might take some money...a grubstake, so to speak. But a properly run and properly supervised drug enforcement unit will pay off in many ways, by reducing crime, saving lives, and through assest forfeitures.

“The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure in Chapter 59 sets forth laws relating to assest forfeiture for those convicted of selling and using illegal drugs. This should be an indicator as to the importance the State of Texas has placed on this practice and just how serious the lawmakers are on the matter.

“This has long been considered one of the many tools to hit these thugs where it hurts the the wallet.

Again, for anyone to suggest that we should just stand on the sidelines and let some other agency fight the drug war for us is irresponsible at best and a dereliction of duty if that person is a law enforcment official.”


  1. WOW! How can anyone running for the top law enforcement position in the county outright deny that these DOCUMENTED cases even exist??

    And to deny the need for more drug enforcement in our county is just asenine. You'd have to have had no TV, radio, or Internet as well as your head in a hole for the past 12 years to say that with a clear conscience!

    And if I recall correctly from an earlier discussion on the lack of SO involvement in narcotics investigations - a current investigator informed us that the SO does not actively investigate drug cases (even open-shut cases) because the Admin has allowed all narcotics investigator certs in the department to expire. As a result, they must refer cases from their laps to the TX Rangers or steer clear of supporting our surrounding municipalities in protecting citizens from this crime.

    I think that is pure negligence to allow the certs to expire. We already have the qualified staff, so we don't even need new staff to accomplish this Task Force - just a few certification renewals!

    I'm very concerned about Mr. Tompkins' statements and seemingly complacent attitude toward a real danger we are personally facing each day. He seems to be just another "pass the buck" administrator, like Plemons & Lynch!

  2. Look at the facts put out by DPS ,the Sheriffs dept now only report crime.

  3. Many of these unsolved cases fall under the jurisidiction of the Waco PD, Hewitt, etc., if they are willing to hand these cold cases over to the Sheriff for this task force that must be approved by the county commissioners for funding then it would be a good idea. Mr. Tompkins was very clear about his position on the cold case issue. And on the drug task force. We continue to read about how the present sheriff's budget is in the red....where will the money come from to pay for these new programs. The sheriff does not have the authority to raise taxes.

    1. Yes, Mr. Tompkins was very clear that he has no idea that cold cases do exist. The records show some 50 in McLennan County.

      Also the Sheriff has jurisdiction over the whole county, which includes all the cities within the county. Something else Mr. Tompkins seems to be short on information with.

  4. I just noticed the title to this article:

    He (meaning Cawthon) seeks a 'grubstake' for his task forces.....who is running for sheriff, Cawthon or McNamara?

    1. So what do you get out of so adamantly supporting Plemons and now Tompkins over your supposed lifelong friend? You don't gain anything as a taxpayer, not being a resident of the county. You claim to cherish and support a friend you seem hell bent on burning to the ground. So I guess the only grubstake for you is vengeance or the relief of your own bitterness.

  5. You had better look that up, Ms. Schroeder. It will definitely be on the test. - The Legendary

  6. Ms. Schroeder, the County Sheriff has jurisdiction over the county, hint the name. The County Sheriff is the top law enforcement officer in the county as spelled out in Texas Government Code. So any crime committed in their county is the original jurisdiction of the County Sheriff. Maybe you should research what a County Sheriff can and can't do, much like Mr. Tompkins needs to research his facts.

    In addition, many retired police officers are volunteering their time to help with these cold cases. Volunteering means the are not drawing pay, so it's not a budget concern. They would work as unpaid volunteer deputies, much like current volunteer deputies do.

    Yes, the present Sheriff's Office is in the red because of very poor administration and planning. Outside prisoners had already reached and held current levels by this time last year. This is the time when budgets are set. So the current administration should have been well aware of the outside inmate problem before the budget was requested, and before the Budget Officer proposed a budget to Commissioners, and long before the Sheriff's Office had a chance to campaign for budget changes before Commissioners approved a budget. I have to ask, why Commissioners weren't made aware of this problem in July of last year instead of November, December, or March depending on which story from the Sheriff you believe.

    Also this year's budget including the transferring of a salary from being paid from the Drug Task Force's seizure account to the Sheriff's Office account. That would mean that this person's salary has been paid from an account that would have paid the salaries of the Drug Task Force deputies for 6 years after the money from seizures stopped coming in. I've looked at the budget statements from the Task Force and it would have been able to pay for itself. Instead, those expenses were added to the county budget. So if we can get extra deputies out on the street specially trained for drug related crimes that will not only support itself, but also put money back into the Sheriff's Budget while they are making the county unfriendly for drug transporters, dealers, and users; why would law abiding, tax paying citizens not want them? I mean this is nothing but a win for McLennan County all the way around, unless you would be one of those people who transport, deal or use drugs.

    So once again, Ms. Schroeder's chasing yet another red herring. Ms. Schroeder, the facts are stacked against you and your opinion. In fact, after hearing Mr. Tompkins' plan and his denial of these real facts, McLennan County deputies have put their full support behind the man and policies of Parnell McNamara.

  7. Wow, this post really gets under my skin. I voted for McNamara in the primary because I consider him to be an ethical, reasonable person with a great deal of common sense and his opponent not so.

    But all of this pandering to the fears of the public on crime is over the top for me. The issue of crime control is the one thing that everyone understands - nobody, including myself, wants to be a victim. They may not understand or care about water or education issues, but they all get it when it comes to crime. So, every political candidate makes that a priority, considers it their primary mission and the road to re-election.

    Legislators go to Austin and make more and more criminal laws, make them tougher and tougher, even diminishing the intent factor. Our DA does the same thing and now we have a Sheriff candidate doing it as well. This actually scares me more than being a victim of crime. An out of control justice system is also a very big thug in my book.

    Unfortunately, the goal becomes conviction rather than justice and there are unintended consequences that emerge which most folks do not understand. At what time in the last few decades has this community been considered to be "soft on crime"? I remember hearing of our "hanging Judge" about forty years ago. Wasn't it Anderson? I know a few that have been there and done that on the TDCJ trip and comparatively the sentences from McLennan County are considered outrageous. Just how well has that approach been working for us, given the on-going reputation state-wide as one large ghetto and all the the statistics to back it up?

    And all this carrying on about a revival of the Task Force on Drugs is blowhard political nonsense designed to capture votes. There is no more federal money for that any more, thanks in part, to Tom Coleman and his "success" in the war. I suppose the only choices left would be to get the county to pay for it or ask for private donations. Given my current appraisal and tax rate, my preference would be private donations.

    I wish McNamara would get off the crime kick and spend more time with the jail issues. There are a multitude of problems there and I hope his opponent will continue to point those out. Every component of the justice system in this county is a mess because there is a lack of communication. Someone with cojones and negotiation skills needs to demand some coordination.

    I too, have concerns about Cawthon appearing as the "shadow" of McNamara. "Grubstake" was a telling term to use since it implies a gain of the profits at the end of the ride. I suppose we all know it, don't we?

    1. Marshal McNamara has addressed jail issues. You just hear more about crime issues, because when you get down to it, the public doesn't understand most jail issues. Marshal McNamara has stated time and again, that he does not approve of a private company making money off prisoners. He's been working with jailers and getting to the bottom of issues in the jail, since under the "transparent" administration of Larry Lynch, jail facts are hidden even from Commissioners. So information coming out of the jail comes from back channels.

      The drug task force originally came from a federal grant. There is still federal money to be had for such task forces today, the Lynch/Plemons faction just tried to convince the public there was no money. Considering the Lynch/Plemons have been surprisingly overbudget by some $2,000,000 this year alone, I wouldn't trust Lynch/Plemons to count change. But the drug task force before it was closed down, was funding itself. The seizure fund generated by the task force up until it was dissolved in 2006, was still paying salaries through this year. Wow, 6 years of salaries with no new seizures, sounds like more boots on the ground at no cost to tax payers, but funded by the private donations of drug dealers, traffickers, and manufacturers. Nice to see them paying their fair share.

      For those that know about the US Marshal Service, they live and operate by coordinating with local and state agencies. This is a huge tool that McNamara brings to the table. The DA's Office, Texas DPS, DEA, Waco PD, Woodway PD, Robinson PD, and other area police departments have already been talking with McNamara about reversing the current Sheriff's policies and foster better coordination as a whole. Meanwhile, all of Mr. Tompkins' former employers have backed McNamara, because they are used to working with McNamara when he was a Deputy US Marshal and they know the team atmosphere he brings to the table.

      As for Cawthon shadowing McNamara, every Sheriff needs a good right hand man. Lynch had Plemons and look where that got him. Harwell had Dan Weyenberg. I know McNamara asked for Cawthon's help on the campaign, and Cawthon, having experience working with McNamara felt strong enough to be very involved in his campaign.

      But to suggest that we turn a blind eye to crime around us is insane, or maybe it isn't. Mexico did, how's that working out for them?

  8. Vote Parnell McNamara for Sheriff. Willie Tompkins is way out of touch with reality. Topkins does not have the ability to be the Sheriff if he doesn't know there are any unsolved murder in the county. And Ms. Schroeder, The Sheriff is the CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OF THE COUNTY. He can take of any case from any municipality that he wants (Hewitt, Waco, Woodway ETC....

  9. Here, now, then, Deacon. I'm gonna move myself into that A-men corner right there side by each with ya'. We in agreeance, y'hear? Young Will Patterson burned up in his Cadillac under very suspicious circumstances. I have seen a lot of suicides in cars, but never anything quite like that. - The Legendary


  11. Look here, unidentified white man of middle-age, what else did these 4 have in common, and where is the place you are talking about? Did the beatings all take place in the same area of town? Is there any other area of similarity about the killings? Think carefully about it. - The Legendary

    1. The unsolved crimes all happened here in Austin. The first 3 or 4 took place in the area of South Congress all within a 2 mile radius. The one found by my apartment was found in a lot by St. John and IH 35. There have been men and women killed all by blunt force trauma. Now I here that all but 4 or 5 of these murders have been solved. I don't know which ones because I have not done any research on the police blotter where I got most of my initial information. I still smell a serial killer Mr. Legend.

    2. Also it seems most if not all of those murdered were homeless and white.

    3. Another body found overnight Mr. Legend. This makes 3 up north about a half dozen or more in the South Congress area.Little info forthcoming from police as usual. I know from the news the first 2 up here were blunt force trauma if not stabbing also. Both middle aged white men. I hope someone admits there is a serial killer on the loose. That would be the first step in catching the monster.

  12. Has anyone escaped being killed? Now we know what all these people had in common - homelessness. Has anyone been beaten, then fought the attacker off, or just ran away? Ask around, Mr. Unidentified. Contact me. If you want to contact me, let me know. - The Legendary

    1. They are still being killed. It seems the killer has moved to north Austin now. There have been another 4 or 5 killings since I last wrote. I think the killer is still here and still killing. This is unidentified but terrified again.