Tyler County is one of only five counties that will participate in a pilot project to put a kiosk in the office manned with someone who will only renew licenses. County Commissioners voted Friday on an Interlocal Cooperation Contract, SB 1729 Pilot Program Scheduled DL Offices paving the way for the facility.
Anyone who has tried to renew their license at the Woodville office knows that the shortened hours have created a frustrating bottleneck that often results in residents waiting for hours to finish their business.
A 25 year old Brookeland man is behind bars after being accused of lurinåg a 13 year old away from her home using free smart phone messaging services and sexually assaulting her at least twice since December of 2013.
On Monday, May 5 at approximately 4:50 a.m., Tyler County Communications personel received a call reporting a missing 13-year-old female from her residence located in Fred, Texas. When Tyler County Sheriff's deputies' arrived at the home, her family had located the child. Once on scene the deputy began an investigation and determined that a white male, identified as Crockett Jacob Roddam, age 25 of Brookeland, Texas, had lured the 13-year-old child away from her home.
"The 13 year old victim was communicating with Roddam by cellular telephone, also known as her smart phone," said deputy Stefani Wade with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department. "They had been communicating through a free messaging service called KIK and Snapchat, which are free applications on a Smartphone that anybody can download."
According to Wade, the victim's sister woke up and noticed her sister was gone but had left her cell phone and determined that she had been contacting Roddam, who identified himself as only "Jacob," and that he and the 13 year old had made plans to meet each other on the weekend of May 3 right down the road from the victims house.
After meeting up with the victim, Roddam dropped her off back at her house and the victim's sister was able to identify the car that Roddam was driving.
The Tyler County deputy coordinated with the Child Abuse Forensic service, located in Beaumont, as well as the Garth House, a child advocacy center. The victim received a SANE exam at 9 a.m the same morning that the call came in, and by 12:30p.m, the SANE nurse that did the examination provided information to deputies that confirmed that the victim had been sexually assaulted.
"At that point, it was really critical for us to secure the cell phone," Wade said. Through the investigation of phone records and interviews, it was determined that the victim had been communicating with Roddam since December and had snuck out and met up with him once before.
The day after the call came in, Wade reached out to Deborah Gannaway with the FBI, due to her experience in cyber crimes. After Wade informed Gannaway about the case, Gannaway traveled to Tyler County to assist the Sheriff's Department in their investigation.
Federal authorities filed a motion for the arrest and detention of Roddam, who will be facing federal charges in addition to possible pending Tyler County charges. Roddam was arrested on June 4, just a month after the original call came in.
"I think it says a lot about our agency and the FBI," Wade said. "It is great that we were able to get their help."
Roddam admitted that he knew the victim was 13. Roddam also offered to pay the victim and her 13-year-old friend to have sex with him "one last time" before he "went to jail."
"We want people to know that Tyler County is completely involved in this case," Roddam said.
"We are very concerned about the safety of the kids. We want to stress to parents that their worse nightmare could be the cell phone they are providing to their children. Most people purchase a cell phone so they can get in touch with their kids quickly, but you don't need a smart phone for that. We just really want parents to be aware that it's not just Facebook that can be dangerous – it's the entire Internet. Sexting is through the roof right now and parents don't even know it."
A Woodville man was arrested on drug charges after attempting to hide a bag of cocaine in his mouth during a traffic stop.
On June 12 at approximately 7 p.m., Tyler County Sheriff's Deputies were on regular patrol when they observed a grey passenger car traveling northbound on Highway 69 South and turning into the parking lot of the Rudy's convenience store. The vehicle did not come to a complete stop to take a right turn onto Veterans Way, which is a moving violation.
According to Phil Ryan with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, the deputy also recognized the man in the car and identified him as Malcolm Isaiah Lewis, age 26 of Woodville, who was known to not have a valid drivers license.
The deputy initiated a traffic stop and approached Lewis. Ryan said that the deputy observed a bulge in Lewis's cheek that he kept attempting to move around in an attempt to hide it.
"The deputy asked Lewis to step outside the vehicle because he seemed nervous and was shaking and sweating profusely," Ryan said. "Lewis stepped outside and pulled a clear plastic bag out of his mouth that contained several pieces of a substance that the deputy believed to be crack cocaine."
The substance tested positive for cocaine. There was also $2,085 in cash on Lewis, which Ryan said is a large amount of cash.
Lewis was placed under arrest and his vehicle was towed.
Lewis was charged with Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1. His bond was set at $50,000.
Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt pled two men to sexually assaulting a 14 year old Livingston girl at a Woodville motel in November of 2012 and a third man is expected to plead guilty to the same charge on Thursday.
One of the men, Hunt said, met the girl on the internet website, Meetme.com. The girl had posted that she was 18 years old and looking for a man for sex. The three men were in town from Kentucky to work on construction of the German Pellet Plant.
After communicating over the internet and text message, the men set up a meeting with the girl. The girl willingly got in the vehicle with the men, waited while the men went into the Livingston Walmart to buy beer, and rode back to Woodville with them.
"Once at the motel room, the three men and the girl smoked marijuana and drank beer," Hunt said. "Eventually, the men began to sexually assault the girl. All three took part, and one even used his cell phone to video record the others having sex with the girl."
Hunt says that the next morning, Woodville Police received information that the girl was a runaway and was at the motel. The girl was found, but made no outcry to police. She was returned to Polk County Sheriff's Deputies who returned her to her home. Once at home, she made an outcry to her grandfather. Her grandfather immediately took her to the Polk County Sheriff's Office who sent them back to the Woodville Police.
"Sgt. Jathan Borel and Officer Erin Dees interviewed the girl," Hunt said. " Just as the interview ended, the girl saw the three men drive up to the motel. Officers detained the men, searched their motel room, and gathered evidence. Part of the evidence gathered was the cell phone with the video recording."
Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt was preparing for a jury trial on one of the men, and a deal had been worked with the other two men to testify against the third man in exchange for shorter sentences. On Friday before the trial, Hunt had the defendant brought to the Tyler County District Courtroom with his attorney. Hunt showed the defendant the video from the motel and the defendant immediately changed his mind about the trial and decided to plead guilty.
"This is a win for everybody," said Hunt. "The county saves the expense of a trial, the girl doesn't have to testify, the video doesn't have to be shown, and three sexual predators are off the streets."
James Clayton and Matthew Byers plead guilty on May 27 in front of Judge Earl Stover. James Clayton received 12 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division. Matthew Byers received eight years. Joshua Clayton is scheduled to plead guilty before Judge Jerome Owens and receive eight years Thursday. All will have to register for life as sex offenders.
On June 7, two Tyler County Sheriff's deputies responded to a disturbance at the Mormon Church in Fred after being advised that a man identified as Jeremy West was in the parking lot screaming, yelling and hitting his truck.
According to Phil Ryan of the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, West's truck was sitting in the back parking lot of the church and as deputies approached they saw a man sleeping in the front seat.
"Deputies asked the man if he was alright and had West exit the vehicle, who stated that he was just trying to sleep," Ryan said. "After speaking to West for a few seconds he told deputies he was just going to make it easy in the officers and pulled his wallet out of his pocket and began searching through it."
West pulled out a clear plastic bag containing a clear crystal substance that appeared to be methamphetamine and told officers that was all he had.
West was placed under arrest for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Public Intoxication and was transported to the jail without incident.
The substance is being analyzed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and once it is identified a warrant for additional charges will be handed down by the grand jury.
An Angleton man brandishing a gun in the Wal-mart parking lot was arrested after what officers believe to be bath salts were found in a camper he was pulling.
On Saturday, June 7, Woodville Police Officers were dispatched to the Wal-Mart parking lot in reference to a man brandishing a rifle. Officer Sheffield responded with Officer Brian Seales. According to Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department, the original report stated that a man was in a vehicle that was pulling a travel trailer and he was walking around the parking lot with the rifle saying that someone was after him. Officers determined the man was intoxicated and likely using some type of narcotic. The gun was seized and after questioning the man identified as Ricki Thornton, age 54 of Angleton, the officers discovered that he had an outstanding warrant from Jefferson County for a probation violation. He was arrested for the warrant and for being intoxicated.
"Several witnesses observed Thornton and told officers that he was acting erratic and talking in a threatening manner while carrying the gun," McCulley said.
Officers searched Thornton's truck and camper and found a small amount of what is believed to be bath salts, which is being sent to the crime lab for further testing.
It was also determined that Thornton was a convicted felon, so he was charged with Felony Possession of a Firearm, a third degree felony, along with Public Intoxication and outstanding warrants.
Once results from the crime lab come back, additional drug charges could be added.