By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
By the next morning, Roper had, in PI lingo, "lawyered up." His attorney, Bob Baskett, was calling PI, accusing them of entrapping Roper and other nefarious acts. There would be no polygraph, not then and not unless Roper's side got to dictate terms.
Roper, they knew, would not be an easy nut to crack.
Interestingly, PI made no move to interrogate Maples--a fact that Maples claims drove Roper to distraction. "He started acting really weird," Maples recalls. "He kept asking whether I'd been interviewed by PI. And he kept asking if I'd ever told Eveline anything." Maples told Roper he hadn't.
Perhaps it was an effort to reassure Roper; perhaps, an act of defiance aimed at the inspectors riding him. But on November 21, in one of the most bizarre episodes of the whole story, Maples, who hadn't stolen any money for six months, pulled off one last heist. Riding alone, Maples responded to a call involving a stolen vehicle. When he arrived, other cops were at the scene, including Roper and Coddington. Maples patted down a wiry, Jheri-curled, streetwise man named Seneca Faggett. Faggett turned out to be carrying $400, a little dope, and an assault rifle. Everything made it to the property room except $149 of Faggett's money. According to a statement Faggett later gave police, Maples said "my sergeant"--whom Maples called "Q"--"told me to confiscate everything."
It wasn't the first time Faggett had run across "Q," whose reputation, he later testified, was well-known on the streets. "Q ain't right," Faggett later told a jury. "And if you can't trust the cops, you can't trust nobody."
hr style="size: 1px; width: 50%; text-align: centerDespite Maples' act of defiance, by late November, he says, he was "an extreme basket case." Eveline and Maples, who hardly knew each other, had begun to quarrel, and shortly after Thanksgiving, Eveline moved out. But there was a complication: Eveline was pregnant.
She was also, it seems, suspicious. In fact, before going on military leave in September, Maples had taken Eveline to the storage shed where he kept his wampum. Maples showed her the money and claimed he'd won it all gambling.
On December 2, during a conversation with her ex, a DPD officer, Schoovaerts revealed the existence of Maples' stash. Word got back to public integrity, which contacted Eveline, who led them to the site. On Sunday morning, December 6, PI pulled a state district judge out of a church service to sign a search warrant, which detectives executed around noon. The money was gone.
But all was not lost. PI now had the psychological crow bar they needed to pry the truth from Maples.
That afternoon, as previously planned, Maples appeared at the Grand Prairie police station, where Eveline was on duty. Maples thought he and Eveline would exchange property, including Eveline's engagement ring. When Maples showed up, however, Eveline was nowhere in sight; instead, he was confronted by PI detectives McLeod, Lowe, and PI chief Lt. Ron Waldrop.
"The first thing McLeod says [is] 'The deal about Eveline's [engagement] ring is off and she doesn't ever want to see you again,'" Maples recalls. "Then, they say they're from public integrity and they're investigating me."
They asked him about two specific thefts. "I said, 'I don't know what you're talking about,'" Maples recalls. "That's when [detective Carl Lowe] said, 'We know about the $50,000.'"
Maples struggled to stay calm. Four days earlier, he had removed the money from storage, and since then, he had been hauling nearly $50,000 in greenbacks in his Toyota 4-Runner. He left the interrogation and, in a fog, drove back to Dallas.
"I was just trying to figure this all out, who they're talking to and all. It was just...overload.
"I knew the next move was to talk to Roper and tell him they knew about the money. I thought they would probably tell him, 'Look what we got: Maples' girlfriend.'"
Maples says he believed Eveline was in danger. Equally likely, he simply knew the jig was up. He needed leniency from the authorities and he wanted absolution from Eveline, who obviously knew he was crooked, and whom he was desperate to win back. He wanted to marry her, and he wanted the baby.
He went home and called his big sister, Tammie Maples Drown, a housewife in Seguin.
"He told me he and another cop had been stealing money from drug dealers," recalls Drown. "He was crying. I didn't believe him; he'd never done anything wrong in his life. Then he started to get really upset, and I knew he was telling the truth. So I gave him a little sisterly advice. I told him to do the right thing and turn himself in."
Maples alerted the Grand Prairie police that he was coming back to do just that. And later that night, Maples gave his lawyers $49,000 in cash--evidence to be handed over to public integrity.
Part one, dirty cop, was finally over; Part two, frustrated informant, was beginning.
hr style="size: 1px; width: 50%; text-align: centerThe next morning, Maples' lawyers met with PI detectives and representatives from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. The negotiations were handled by Assistant DA Mike Gillett, head of then-DA John Vance's public integrity unit and, in the waning days of the lame-duck Vance regime, the real power behind the throne.