Tag Archives: Texas Rangers

Time for answers in young man’s death

Thomas Kelly Brown’s loved ones — his family and his friends throughout Hemphill County, Texas — need more than what they apparently got from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

The AG says Brown, who disappeared on Thanksgiving 2018, was not the victim of “foul play.” Never mind that his body was found far removed from his laptop and his backpack. As others have noted already, this case has “foul play” screaming from it.

Yet the AG says there was no “evidence” that foul play occurred.
OK, so how did this young man die? Shouldn’t the attorney general, who along with the Texas Rangers and Hemphill County authorities searched for clues surrounding the young Canadian High School senior’s disappearance and death, provide some form of closure to the young man’s death?

Hey, these aren’t just a gaggle of nosy Noras wanting to satisfy their idle curiosity. They have a serious emotional stake in this matter.

They are entitled to a full explanation into how the authorities reached what many of us believe is a faulty conclusion.

Canadian teen’s loved ones get punched in the gut?

I will have to step aside for any detailed analysis of what the Texas Attorney General’s Office has concluded about the mysterious and heartbreaking death of a Canadian High School senior, Thomas Kelly Brown.

The expert on this tragedy is my friend and former colleague Jon Mark Beilue, who wonders aloud whether how in the world the AG’s office could find that “there is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

He disappeared on Thanksgiving Day 2018. His body was discovered near Lake Marvin. His laptop and other personal belongings were found miles away from where police found Brown’s body.

So … the AG’s office says that Brown did not die as a result of someone doing him harm. No evidence? Good … grief!

As Jon Mark Beilue said in his social media post: These findings go “beyond the pale.”

The powers that be — the AG’s office, the Texas Rangers, the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office — all need to come up with some plausible explanation for what happened to this young man.

Here is Beilue’s rant. It’s worth your time to read it:

“…There is no evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that foul play led to the death of Thomas Kelly Brown…”

You mean except for the fact that his body was found near Lake Marvin and his vehicle was found miles away with video evidence of it being driven that night, or that his backpack and laptop computer were found several more miles away?

Who wrote this, the Attorney General’s office of Texas or Deputy Barney Fife? Unfortunately, it was the former in an announcement on Wednesday.

As someone while with the Globe-News who wrote multiple stories on Thomas Brown, the Canadian senior who suddenly went missing in the early hours of Thanksgiving 2016, this is beyond the pale.

It is absolutely unconscionable that a reasonable person would not conclude that foul play was involved. This whole case has all but screamed of foul play since the very murky outset. Investigators said time and again they knew it to be foul play, but could not bring sufficient evidence.

Suppose the powers that be go ahead and tell the public exactly why a reasonable person should not conclude foul play was involved? Or is this just a way of throwing up your hands and saying we can’t solve it.

I feel for those closest to Brown in all of this. I can’t imagine what this latest bit of news brings. I could go on and on, but just leave it at this. To paraphrase the AG report: “Any reasonable person can conclude that someone got away with murder in Hemphill County in the death of Thomas Kelly Brown.”

Thomas Brown’s family and all of those who loved him have been kicked squarely in the gut.

Now let’s find this youngster’s killer

The harsh and heartbreaking truth has been revealed to a rural Texas Panhandle community.

One of its sons, Thomas Brown — missing since November 2016 — is dead. Someone found his remains near Canadian in Hemphill County. Forensics experts were able to determine the identity of those remains.

The family is grieving. As is the community that Thomas called home.

No one likely is able to dictate to the authorities on what to do next, but I am going to use this blog to make a specific request of them.

The Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers, along with Hemphill County and Canadian police must spare no effort or expense in finding out what happened to this youngster.

Thomas’s mother said all she wants are prayers. I’ll accept that, but that’s not all she needs. She and the rest of Thomas’s family need to know what happened to him. They need complete and unequivocal closure.

They never will get over this tragedy completely. They can come a good bit closer to it than they are at this moment with a thorough and intense investigation into the fate that befell the teenager.

This case is extraordinary given the amount of time Thomas was listed as “missing.” The family no doubt held out some glimmer of hope that he would return alive. I have some intimate knowledge of that, inasmuch as a close member of my family once was listed as “missing” for a mere eight days before police found his remains.

The Texas Rangers are the elite investigative arm of the DPS. These folks are very good at what they do. Whatever it takes, they need to look for as long as they have any semblance of hope of determining what happened to this young man.

Moreover, they need to determine who inflicted this terrible misery on a Texas Panhandle family and community.

Now come the questions: Who did this . . . and why?

A community’s heart is shattered with this news.

Remains found near Canadian, Texas have been confirmed to be those of a teenager who disappeared on Nov. 23, 2016.

They belong to Thomas Brown.

Thomas’s mother said simply, “We just need prayers.” Done. You’ll have them from a grieving Texas Panhandle that had hoped for all it could that Thomas would be found alive.

Now comes the arduous task for Hemphill County law enforcement officials, hopefully with help from the Texas Rangers and neighboring agencies. They need to find out who did this and for what purpose.

In the meantime, a shaken community will somehow seek to regain its strength.

Perhaps a region’s collective love will help it recover.

Indictment gives us more dots to connect

As if this case didn’t have enough mystery attached to it.

A Dallas County grand jury today indicted a former police officer of murder in the shooting death of a man who was gunned down in his own apartment.

Former Dallas Police Department officer Amber Guyger walked into Botham Jean’s apartment earlier this year and allegedly shot him to death. She said at the time she mistakenly entered his residence, thinking it was her own.

OK. My first reaction was . . . huh? The apartments are on separate floors.

It didn’t take DPD long to fire Guyger after the Sept. 6 shooting. There were protests in Dallas over Jean’s death. Incidentally, Guyger is white; Jean, a native of St. Lucia, was a black man. The racial element of this crime hasn’t risen to the forefront of the community debate. It might eventually.

It gets even weirder.

The Texas Rangers, the crack investigative arm of the Department of Public Safety, charged Guyger with manslaughter. The case then went to the grand jury, which decided today to level the more serious charge of murder against the former officer.

Botham Jean has been described as an upstanding young man, active in his church, a fine individual. I don’t know much about Guyger, about what kind of an officer she was.

What strikes me as strange is that the grand jury, after hearing the evidence and the criminal complaint delivered by the district attorney’s office, would elevate the charge. Manslaughter implies a crime that was committed without intent to take someone’s life; a murder charges alleges that someone intended to take another person’s life.

This case is full of unconnected dots. Some more of them might have emerged with this indictment. I have two related questions: Did Amber Guyger know Botham Jean and was there a reason other than it being a simple mistake that she allegedly entered his apartment and then shot him to death?

The trial will tell us.

This story saddens me terribly.

Sexual abuse story now heads for Texas

Larry Nassar, the serial sexual assailant, has settled into his new “home,” which happens to be a Michigan prison, where he will spend the rest of his miserable life.

The story of this monster is still unfolding, in Texas.

Nassar — a former physician — was sentenced to 175 years in prison after he was convicted of sexual assault of young women and girls while they were under his medical care at Michigan State University. His victims were young gymnasts, some of whom were Olympic champions.

The Texas connection? Several of the women contend that they were abused while they trained under the eyes of Bela and Martha Karolyi at their famed “ranch” near Houston.

Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed the Texas Rangers — the elite investigative arm of the Department of Public Safety — to look into the allegations of abuse that have been leveled against the Karolyis.

The Texas Tribune reports: “The public statements made by athletes who previously trained at the Karolyi Ranch are gut-wrenching,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “Those athletes, as well as all Texans, deserve to know that no stone is left unturned to ensure that the allegations are thoroughly vetted and the perpetrators and enablers of any such misconduct are brought to justice. The people of Texas demand, and the victims deserve, nothing less.”

Indeed.

I have supreme confidence that the Texas Rangers will get to the truth, whatever it is and whomever it involves.

Nassar’s conviction and sentence already have brought down members of the U.S. gymnastics association, as well as the Michigan State president and athletic director.

I am not going to bet against the Rangers finding more culprits lurking right here, in Texas.

Now, that is going to be some ballpark

baseball

Amarillo is getting ready — soon, I hope — to unveil plans for construction of a baseball park downtown.

Its price tag has inflated a bit, from $32 million to around $50 million — give or take. The plan is to lure a Class Double-A baseball team that’s affiliated with the San Diego Padres of the National League. The team would relocate here from San Antonio, which is seeking to bring a Class Triple-A team from Colorado Springs.

Musical chairs, anyone?

Get a load, though, of what they’re planning for Arlington, Texas, where the Texas Rangers play hardball in the American League.

The city leaders want to replace a 22-year-old ballpark with a $900 million structure. Good deal, yes? I guess so. These ballparks cost a lot of dough these days.

I only wish the Arlington folks would drop the idea of putting a roof on the new stadium, presuming it will be approved by voters who will be asked for their blessing.

Read about it here:

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/arlington/article78764147.html

I happen to be a baseball traditionalist. I dislike playing an outdoor game under a roof. You play basketball in gymnasiums, not baseball. For that matter, you also play baseball on grass, not something called “artificial turf.”

Don’t get me started on the designated hitter, pine tar and all the body armor that batters wear when they’re facing a fastball-throwing pitcher.

When the Amarillo ballpark gets rolled out, my sincere hope is that the architects that the Local Government Corporation will hire will keep it simple.

I am not thrilled at the escalated cost of the ballpark — aka the multipurpose event venue — but it can be kept somewhat in check if we dispense a measure of the glitz and glamor that’s likely to be built into that showcase down yonder in Arlington.

Bat flips: the latest in showing up fellow athletes

brawl

Let’s talk a little baseball … shall we?

They had a big fight yesterday during a game between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays.

It featured a nicely thrown straight right thrown by the Rangers’ Rougned Odor against the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista. It landed flush on the side of Bautista’s jaw.

Muhammad Ali would’ve been proud.

I’m not sure we’re seeing more of these fights these days in baseball, where the brawls generally become a sort of comedy of errors. Your average baseball player isn’t the handiest with his dukes … although many of us still marvel at the time 45-year-old Nolan Ryan clamped a headlock on the much-younger Robin Ventura and delivered about a dozen blows to the top of Ventura’s noggin.

The cause of these baseball fights rests often with players’ knack for showing up guys on the other team.

I refer to “bat flips,” which have become the insult du jour on the baseball diamond. Bautista likes to flip his bat when he hits home runs. It’s meant to stick it in the eye of the pitcher who threw the ball that Bautista has just deposited in the outfield seats.

Pitchers don’t like being shown up.

They’ve been known to respond by throwing at or near the head of the next batter — or waiting until the bat-flipping offender comes to bat the next time.

I dislike the idea of showboating on the field. There’s really and truly no need for it. These men get paid a lot of money to play a kids’ game. That doesn’t mean they have to act like kids.

I recall listening on the radio to an interview that talk-show host Jim Rome was having with Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt. They were talking about how batters sometimes stand in the batter’s box and “admire” the home run they’ve just hit before taking off on their home run trot.

Schmidt didn’t like the way hitters would act when they hit one out.

He told Rome of how it was in the old days. If a player were to do something like to a pitcher, they’d be sure to take a high, hard one somewhere on their body the next time they came to bat.

Schmidt mentioned a couple of the meanest pitchers ever to throw a hardball: Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson. You show either of those guys up, Schmidt recalled, and you were going to pay for it … guaranteed!

So, let’s just play the game.

As for showing off after hitting a home run, I’ll borrow a quote from a coach who participated in another sport. It might have been Vince Lombardi who told his players when “you get to the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

 

Is Austin a ‘thorn’ in the Republicans’ side?

An interesting back story is profiled by an Associated Press story about how Texas Republicans are trying — finally — to remove what some have called a “thorn” in the GOP side.

The city of Austin is just a pain in the Republicans’ rear end.

This liberal bastion — nicknamed by some as The People’s Republic of Austin — keeps electing progressive politicians, which of course is the city’s prerogative. Why not? The Texas capital city is thriving. Its population is booming with high-tech employees, educators and learned professionals moving there.

Someone is doing something right there. About the most serious gripe one hears about Austin is the traffic, worsened by the fact that it’s the largest city in the country with just a single interstate highway coursing through it.

Texas Republicans, though — who control every statewide office in Texas and comprise a super-majority in the Legislature — have had enough of those liberals who populate public offices in Austin and Travis County.

http://news.yahoo.com/texas-gop-tries-pluck-liberal-thorn-side-182836892.html

As the story notes, the “last straw” was the Travis County grand jury’s indictment of then-Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts: abuse of power and coercion of a public official.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office runs the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates allegations of wrong doing by state officials. Lehmberg, though, got herself into a jam in 2013 when she pleaded guilty to drunken driving. She should have quit, but didn’t. Perry then insisted that she quit. Still, she didn’t. Then he threatened to withhold money appropriated by the Legislature for the Public Integrity Unit if she didn’t step down. She stayed. Then he vetoed the money.

The grand jury said he shouldn’t have done it that way. Thus, the indictment.

The 2015 Legislature has taken action against Austin. The Public Integrity Unit has been moved out of the DA’s office and put under the authority of the Texas Rangers, an arm of the Department of Public Safety, whose head is appointed by, um, the governor, who now happens to be Republican Greg Abbott.

Oh, but hey. They’re going to take politics out of it, isn’t that right?

Sure thing.

Meanwhile, Austin and Travis County voters will get to continue electing politicians more to their liking.

Keep it up, folks.