Fred mother arrested for child endangerment

by Emily Waldrep

A Fred mother was arrested February 20 in Fred after her two children, ages 2 and 4, left her home and wandered across a major highway alone.

Deputies were dispatched to CR 4644 in Fred after a call was received reporting two children were missing. While en route, the deputy was advised that the children had been found at the Fred Grocery Store. The children's mother was identified as Summer Dawn McCoy, age 21, of Fred.

McCoy reported that she had been sleeping and that when she woke up the door to the house was open and the kids were gone. The children said they left the home to go play near a church down the road. The mother said it was not the first time the children had left the house in a similar fashion.

"The kids would have had to walk down two county roads and then cross Highway 92 to get to where they were," said Chief Deputy Phil Ryan.

Highway 92 is a dangerous, major highway for anyone to be crossing and is much more dangerous and even deadly for young children to be crossing unattended.

McCoy was placed under arrest for Endangering a Child and the children were turned over the custody of their grandmother.

CPS was also notified, and there will be a follow up investigation.

Law Enforcement officials say "thanks" to a witness of the event who stopped the children from crossing Highway 92 a second time and was able to pick them up and take them to Fred Grocery, avoiding a possible disaster.

Search for truant student leads to two arrests

by Emily Waldrep

Several deputies, along with Woodville School Resource Officer Bubba Sheffield, were checking on the welfare of a 14-year-old truant child in Ivanhoe Tuesday, February 11, when they found the child living in deplorable living conditions with her mother and another male.

"At the time of the investigation the temperature was extremely cold," said Chief Deputy Phil Ryan. "There was no running water, no electricity, no heat and almost all of the windows were busted out of the mobile home."

Child Protective Services (CPS) was notified of the condition of the home, but decided that since the child was 14 years old, they felt like the child was in no danger.

"We were not happy with CPS's decision to take no action on behalf of child," Ryan said.
The white male that was living in the residence was not related to the child and was reported to be the boyfriend of the child's mother. He said his name was Jordan Terrell. Officers felt he was lying transported him to the jail where his fingerprints were run through the system. His fingerprints identified him as Jeremy Hopkins, age 21.

Hopkins was wanted for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, along with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, and was arrested on both of those charges, as well as a new charge from Tyler County, Failing to Identify as a Fugitive From Justice.

The mother of the child, who was not identified, was also arrested for an outstanding warrant.
Tyler County Sheriff's Department was able to place the child with her father until better accommodations could be made, although CPS did not step in.


Continuance granted in Maddox child custody hearing

A Tyler County Court has granted a continuance until April 9 in the child custody hearing of Madison Maddox, the five-year-old daughter of Nathan Maddox, who, with his wife Krystal, was murdered outside Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Colmenseil January 19.

Madison, who was living with her paternal grandparents, Paul and Letha Westfall, and her mother, Kristen Westfall, will remain in foster care until the judge makes a custody decision. Madison was removed from the Westfall's home shortly after the incident.

Coy Lee Collins, a special investigator with Child Protective Services (CPS), testified at the first hearing that Madison was removed from the Westfall's care and placed into foster care because methamphetamine residue, a syringe and a loaded .22 revolver were found in the Westfall's home, and could be accessible to the five year old. Collins also said there were sanitation concerns because of raw sewage on the property.

Madison's paternal grandfather, Jim Maddox, said that he was just interested in the child's safety. "At this point the main thing is Madison's safety, and it is not a matter of what I want or my wife wants or what the Westfalls want," Maddox said. "It is all about Madison's safety."

There are several agencies working on the murder case. All leads are being taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

"We have some excellent agencies from the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, Texas Rangers, and even the FBI who have come in," Maddox said. "They have been available as far as resources and council with law enforcement."

Anyone with information about the murder should phone Tyler County Sheriff's Department at (409) 283-2172.

Burkeville man arrested on drug delivery, unlawful weapon charges

by Emily Waldrep

A Burkeville man was arrested on February 16 in Woodville after an attentive Woodville Police officer noticed that he was driving at approximately 12:30 a.m with no headlights.
Sergeant Jathan Borel was patrolling Woodville when he noticed a driver, identified as D'Vonte Spearman, 19, of Burkeville, traveling at night without the use of headlights, which sent up a red flag for Sgt. Borel.

At the traffic stop, Borel noticed several behaviors from Spearman that seemed nervous, so he asked for permission to search Spearman's vehicle. Permission was granted, and Borel found a small backpack that contained 32.5 grams of marijuana, scales, baggies for packaging and a .38 special handgun hidden in a child's diaper bag.

Spearman was charged with Delivery of Marijuana, due to the scales, baggies and the amount of marijuana found. Delivery of Marijuana is a state jail felony.

"It obviously wasn't for personal use; he was looking to distribute it," Borel said.
Spearman was also charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, a Class A misdemeanor. Spearman was on deferred probation in Jasper County at the time of the arrest.
Borel said that he believes Spearman just did not realize his headlights were off, and was he transported to jail without incident.

Road project planned for Tyler County

State Representative James White is pleased to announce an upcoming project funded by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to expand a segment of U.S. 69 in Woodville south of U.S. 190. In March, the state will begin soliciting bids to widen .30 miles of US 69 by Walmart and the strip mall next to Bealls to accommodate a two-way left turn lane, a right turn lane, and an acceleration lane. Construction is anticipated to start later this year, with an estimated cost of $421,405.

White welcomed the news. "This much needed improvement will increase the safety of a heavily traveled road and promote new development in our community," he explained. "While large metropolitan areas often seem to be prioritized over rural ones like Tyler County, it is only fair that we receive this assistance, and I commend TxDOT for recognizing our local needs and allocating resources to address them. I anticipate this improvement creating more good-paying middle-class jobs and growing our economy in Tyler County, and I look forward to continue working with TxDOT in the future to further develop our transportation infrastructure."