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Odds and Ends

Crime writer Barbara Davis' Christmas nightmare continues.
Mark Graham

One of the problems with publishing a weekly newspaper is that the stories we bring you continue to develop long after we publish them. Time and space seldom allow us to provide updates, so as a new year commences, we thought we'd pause to bring you the latest chapters to some of the bigger stories published over the past several months by the Dallas Observer. The original stories are available in our archives on the Internet at www.dallasobserver.com.


Failure to obey

Donato Garcia and Leonard Mitchell both were arrested more than a year and a half ago by Dallas police on a charge for which you can't be arrested, according to state law--failure to identify yourself. (See "Contempt of Cop," September 7, 2000; "Hell is a Nuisance," October 26, 2000; and "Dallas' Kangaroo Court," December 14, 2000.) Even though the Dallas city attorney has issued repeated advisories over the years telling the cops not to do it, the police continue to arrest people for failure to i.d. because it's a handy way to handle folks who make the police mad without otherwise breaking any law. Most of these cases get lost or ground into dust in the legal mill, but Garcia and Mitchell, the two who wouldn't go away, have hung in there and are still looking for satisfaction. Their attorney David Davis says he will file federal lawsuits against the city within the next few weeks on behalf of Garcia and Mitchell, arguing that the city has continued to allow and even encourage cops to make what they know are dirty arrests.

No support

It took Kim Sullivan ("Deadbeating the System," October 11, 2001) eight years of prodding to get the Texas attorney general's Child Support Division to go after her ex-husband Jimmy Joe Heimann in an effort to retrieve more than $40,000 in back child support. Finally, after court delays, bureaucratic bungling and some serious obfuscation on the part of Heimann, the law nabbed him and tossed his recalcitrant keister in the slammer on a child support warrant. Just as Sullivan thought she was about to get some justice and perhaps a little support for her two girls, she has been thwarted by a system that has no meaningful remedy for parents who refuse or can't pay. It took three court dates and as many weeks before Heimann was finally sentenced to six months in jail. A merciful Sullivan consented to allow him work release, that is, if he could find work. Jail officials told Sullivan that Heimann has recently secured employment, but she has yet to receive a nickel in support.

Another dot-bust

It's been a year since the Dotcomguy left his dotcompound and even longer since we wrote about the publicity stunt by the man formerly known as Mitch Maddox--a guy who could take charisma lessons from Bill Gates ("Cyber Bore," May 11, 2000). His social experiment--which kept him video-streamed and closeted inside his digital digs for a year--ended on January 1, as did his career as the harbinger of a new age of e-commerce. Although promised $100,000 by sponsors if he exposed his every mundane movement to a plethora of Web cams 24/7, he received no money at the end of his not-so-solitary confinement. His company Dotcomguy Inc. had expenses to pay, and then there was some pending litigation that had to be dealt with. Anyway, Dotcomguy did get something for his 15 minutes: a fiancee, whom he met and mated online during one of his interminable chat sessions. Dotcomguy.com is no longer a viable domain, although Maddox is trying to stage a comeback with a new Web address: www.DotComGuy.ws. But with so many dot-coms down and out, the Dotcomguy brand just ain't what it used to be.

Death takes no holiday

In Ciudad Juarez, a sprawling Mexican border city of 1.3 million, 66 young women, most of whom worked in U.S.-owned factories on the edge of town, have been murdered during the past eight years ("The Angel of Juarez," January 4, 2001). The killing continues even now.

For a time, the death count stopped following the arrests of Egypt-born Abdel Latif Sharif, several gang members and five local bus drivers who were supposedly being paid by the imprisoned chemist/engineer to continue the murder spree he had allegedly begun. The men confessed to 20 kidnap-murders.

Additionally, Dallas authorities arrested Jose Juarez Rosales, 24, who was a suspect in several of the cases, and in February deported him to Mexico where he was charged with a 1996 slaying.

Then, in November, Juarez officials found the remains of eight more women buried in shallow desert graves on the outskirts of the city. Two bus drivers were arrested and confessed to the crimes, only to recant, insisting they had been severely beaten during their interrogations.

 

Just days after their arrests, the body of a ninth recently murdered victim was discovered, leading local authorities to again fear that a serial killer was roaming the border city's streets.

And again local women's rights advocate Esther Chavez spoke out: "The authorities lack investigative skill, and they lack interest," she said. "How many times will they assure us they have those responsible in custody?"

Mexican President Vicente Fox has also begun to wonder. He announced in mid-December that he was ordering federal authorities to take over the murder investigation from the Chihuahua and Juarez police and seek the assistance of U.S. FBI officials.

Trying time for the unicorn

Now broke and displaying little of the arrogance that had long been his trademark, longtime fugitive Ira Einhorn, 61, convicted in absentia of the 1977 murder of his Tyler-born girlfriend Holly Maddux, is going back to trial in Philadelphia ("A Killer Abroad," December 14, 2000).

After she'd been missing for 18 months, the mummified body of the 30-year-old Maddux was found in a trunk in the apartment she had once shared with Einhorn.

The one-time hippie guru and organizer of Earth Day who called himself "the Unicorn" had jumped bail before his first scheduled trial in 1981 and hid out in Europe. He was finally located in France with his Swedish-born wife in 1997. While on the run, Einhorn was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Following a three-year negotiation, the elusive Einhorn was returned to the United States last July. French authorities agreed to extradite him only after receiving written assurance that American prosecutors would afford him a new trial if he requested it and not ask for the death penalty.

Once back in U.S. custody, Einhorn appeared in court to file papers seeking a new trial.

When the proceedings begin, the siblings of Holly Maddux will be on hand. "This," says sister Buffy Hall of Everman, "will be the big psychological finale we've all been waiting for. Ira Einhorn is finally coming to the end of his road, and that's what we're all looking forward to."

No date for the trial has been set.

Bam, slam

While at Texas Tech, he won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's premier collegiate running back. Then, as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was the leading rusher in Super Bowl XXX. That was before the fairy tale life of Cooper, Texas' Byron (Bam) Morris cratered ("Fallen Star," September 7, 2000).

It was in the summer of 1996 when he was stopped here on a drive from Cooper to Dallas with 6 pounds of marijuana in a gym bag in the trunk of his car. Morris pleaded guilty in exchange for six years' probation. When he repeatedly missed meetings with his probation officer, he was rearrested and ordered to spend 120 days in jail, and his probated sentence was extended to 10 years.

Things would only get worse. First traded to Baltimore, then Kansas City, Morris next found himself indicted on federal drug-trafficking charges. He admitted to attempting to distribute more than 220 pounds of marijuana in the Kansas City area between January 1, 1998, and May 10, 2000. Sentenced to 30 months, he went off to the federal pen.

He'd been there for 18 months when Rockwall's District Judge Brett Hall issued a warrant to have Morris returned to Texas to be sentenced again for violating his probation. This time, he was ordered to immediately begin serving a 10-year state sentence.

True crime

Just days before Christmas in 1999, true crime author Barbara Davis, 50, was awakened to a nightmare that continues today. Seventeen North Richland Hills police officers burst into her home and allegedly found Davis' 25-year-old son Troy pointing a 9mm pistol as they entered. He was shot and killed by tactical team member Allen Hill ("Fallen Angel," April 27, 2000).

During a later search, police said they found three marijuana plants and enough GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate, known as a date-rape drug) for 600 doses. Davis, whose books include Precious Angels, a recount of the high-profile Darlie Routier case, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, attempted manufacture of a controlled substance and misdemeanor marijuana possession.

In December, Davis pleaded guilty to the possession of a controlled substance. The other charges were dropped. The charge is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Judge C.C. Cooke indicated he would sentence Davis in 30 to 60 days.

 

"I thought it [the GHB] was legal," Davis says. "I bought it through a pharmaceutical company because I have insomnia."

Davis has a federal lawsuit pending against the North Richland Hills Police, claiming excessive force was used during the raid on her home and that her late son's civil rights were violated.

Wardrip's reverse

When Faryion Wardrip, the convicted killer of five young women in Wichita Falls in 1984, chose to plead guilty to his crimes as his trial began in late 1999, the job of prosecuting attorneys became considerably easier ("Burden of Proof," July 13, 2000). All that was left to do was provide a change-of-venue jury in Denton with sentencing evidence. In short order, the killer of Terry Sims, Toni Gibbs, Ellen Blau, Debra Taylor and Tina Kimbrew was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

"The burden of what I did has been lifted," the former Sunday school teacher said at the time. "I've told God to take me. I'm ready." He would not, he said, appeal his death sentence beyond the routine review by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Then, on the December 20, 2001, anniversary of his stabbing and rape of Sims, Wardrip initiated a federal appeals process that he now hopes will help him avoid his scheduled trip to the death chamber.

The most outspoken critic of his decision is Bryce Wardrip, who recently told the Wichita Falls Record-News that it is time his brother "quit wasting taxpayers' money...He needs to just let it go and quit hurting these people. Case closed. Take him down to Huntsville, put a needle in his arm and execute him."

Spores galore

Of all the state's elected officials, Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor has the best reason to hope the new year will not resemble the old. Montemayor found himself refereeing the year's most contentious, if not bizarre consumer fight. The battleground was the home insurance industry, and the flashpoint was mold, specifically the toxic kind that infests homes, disrupts nasal passages and, most important, costs oodles of money to repair ("Planet Mold," February 22, 2001).

The trouble began when a jury ordered Farmers Insurance Group to pay Melinda Ballard an unprecedented $32 million for failing to repair her mold-infested mansion located near Austin. By then, reports of toxic mold driving families out of homes, among other buildings, were common fodder for newspapers across the country, though no state seemed to generate as many stories as Texas. With visions of more Ballard verdicts dancing in their heads, Farmers led an industrywide effort to pressure Montemayor into revising state law to exclude mold from the most commonly purchased Texas homeowners policy.

In November, Montemayor issued what he called a "common-sense, middle ground" ruling, but it only left homeowners grumbling that it was too vague and some insurers still swearing they'll leave Texas for good.


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