Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, May 17, 2002
Georgia double murder suspects await extradition
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- Two Georgia murder suspects are still
in the custody of Pecos Police after being arrested Thursday morning after
a standoff at Motel 6 on South Cedar Street.
James Robert Moody II and Tabatha Colson, both 23, were arrested at
8:15 a.m., four hours after the Pecos Police Department received a teletype
alerting officials to be on the lookout for the suspects who are wanted
in connection with a pair of murders last weekend.
Police Chief Clay McKinney said that his department had contacted Georgia
police officials following the suspects' arrests and are expecting those
officials to arrive in Pecos soon to interview the couple.
"They're supposed to be in route today to interview them and initiate
the extradition proceedings," he said.
Georgia officials had reason enough to believe that the couple is responsible
for the deaths of two Georgia citizens who were found last weekend.
According to this week's edition of the Blackshear (Ga.) Times, the
bodies of Kenneth Steve Davis, 51, and Louis Richard Sheffield, 17, were
found in the area over the weekend.
Davis, a Blackshear boat dealer, was found dead last Saturday around
12:50 p.m. in his mobile home behind his Little River Marine business between
Blackshear and Waycross, the newspaper reported.
He was apparently shot in the head, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Davis was last seen alive around 12:30 Saturday morning, according to
A little more than 24 hours later, Sheffield, of Hacklebarney, was also
found dead on the side of a highway near the Satilla River bridges in Brantley
A Pierce County High School junior, Sheffield also had been shot in
the head, according to sources in Brantley County.
The standoff at the Pecos motel began after police were alerted that
the suspects could be in this area.
Police Sgt. Ismael Gamboa noticed the 1994 Chevrolet pick-up that the
suspects' were believed to be in approximately 10 minutes after receiving
the teletype message.
After evacuating the guests, the local law enforcement officers were
able to make the arrest peacefully.
"We had a peaceful conclusion to that incident," McKinney said.
It is unknown at this time whether or not Moody and Colson had a bond
hearing at press time.
"I don't think at this point they have seen a judge," McKinney said.
McKinney added that one of the officers was able to talk with Colson
for a short time but did not conduct a lengthy interview.
As far as an investigation, McKinney said that the Pecos Police Department
is finished with their portion of the case, which was the apprehension
of the couple.
"We're pretty much finished with our part," he said.
Drug task force officer dies from gunshot wounds
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- Law enforcement officials in Reeves
County were in mourning today following the death of a Trans Pecos Drug
Task Force officer Thursday afternoon from gunshot wounds he received during
a routine bus check earlier in the day.
Task force officer Jaime Rodriguez was pronounced dead at about 4 p.m.,
Thursday, at Covenant Medical Hospital in Lubbock. Rodriguez had been airlifted
to Lubbock from Pecos and was undergoing surgery on two gunshot wounds
to the abdomen, following the shootout that had occurred at the Pecos bus
station about 9:30 a.m.
Rodriguez was shot by a passenger he was interviewing at the back of
the Greyhound bus, which was headed for Los Angeles. The man was then shot
and killed in a return of gunfire by task force officers.
Officials are still unsure of the identity of the dead passenger, who
also shot and wounded a 17-year-old South Carolina girl sitting in front
of him on the bus.
The other officer aboard the bus, Mike Henderson was not injured in
the incident, and Texas Rangers are still investigating who fired the gunshots
that killed the passenger. "We don't know which officer shot the suspect,
that's still under investigation by the Texas Rangers," said Reeves County
Sheriff Andy Gomez.
Both Rodriguez and the girl, identified as Heather Lee, were treated
at the scene, transported quickly to Reeves County Hospital and later airlifted
to Lubbock. Lee remains at Covenant Medical Center and is listed in stable
condition, but with a bullet still lodged in her spine.
The suspect still has not been identified. "We sent off his prints to
the lab," said Gomez.
Gomez said that the individual only had a social security card with
him at the time and that that card turned out to be a fake.
"We have a computer that will let you know what number belongs to anybody
and when we tried his number and name it came up that it was not even a
valid number," said Gomez. "That means he had a bogus social security card,
because when we ran it through the computer it came back that there was
no such number."
The sheriff said that the man did have a name written down on a piece
of paper in his pocket, Andy Vaega. But Gomez said, "We don't think that
was his name, but that he had written it down so that he could remember
that that was what he was going by. That was also the name on the bogus
social security card."
Gomez described the man as a Hispanic male in his early 20's. "He looks
to be about 20-23 years old," said Gomez. "A really young guy."
Gomez speculated that the individual panicked about something when he
was being questioned by Rodriguez, and added it was the second interview
the man had undergone within the past hour.
"They had been stopped in Monahans by the Border Patrol and maybe he
had done something and thought, `I got caught' and panicked," said Gomez.
John Carter, lead agent for the U.S. Border Patrol office in Pecos,
said that agents had boarded the bus and talked to the passengers in Monahans,
thirty minutes before the bus arrived in Pecos.
"We did a check, but of course ours is a little different, because we
check everybody and it's for their status," said Carter.
Carter said that he had spoken to the young man in Monahans and didn't
note that anything was wrong at the time. "He didn't pull anything over
there, but waited until he got here," said Carter. "But we don't search
for drugs or anything like that and we checked all the passengers and the
agent who checked him said he was a legal resident."
"They asked him questions and came to the conclusion that he was a legal
resident and that was it," said Carter. "Why he panicked here, we don't
know, but that's really sad and very upsetting. But of course, we don't
check for drugs or anything like that. Our part is to check for their status."
"He must have done something and thought he had finally been caught,
because he panicked and just started firing," said Gomez, while adding
they may not know the real reason for his actions until the investigation
can be completed.
"We're looking into everything right now," said Gomez. "We're waiting
for the prints to come back and to try to find out first who this young
man was and then try to figure out why he started shooting, what was he
In another twist to the story, Gomez said that the man's luggage was
not even on board the Greyhound bus when the shootout took place. A search
later by law enforcement officers and Greyhound workers turned up the suspect's
luggage in Arizona.
"They're sending it to us, so that we can look through it," said Gomez.
Rodriguez was a longtime Pecos resident who was assigned to the task
force through the Andrews Police Department. "He worked for the Andrews
Police Department, who are a part of the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force,"
Gomez said that counties that participate in the Trans Pecos Drug Task
Force lend officers to the task force and work out of the Pecos-based office.
"He had worked for the sheriff's department and was part of the task force,
but when he moved he worked for the Andrews department and worked for the
task force," said Gomez.
"We're very upset right now and very, very sad," said Gomez. "We lost
a valuable officer and a good friend," he said.
A moment of silence was held Thursday night at Pecos High School's sports
banquet, where Rodriguez' daughter Jessica, a senior, was one of the night's
main honorees. Rodriguez also had a 5-year-old son who attends school in
The Trans Pecos Drug Task Force officers were on their way to a meeting
at the task force headquarters located at 317 S. Cypress, directly behind
the Greyhound Bus Station, which is located on Third Street.
"They saw the bus and thought they would do a quick routine check before
the meeting," said Gomez.
Gomez said that routine checks are done of the buses to look for illegal
drugs or other illegal activities. "This was just a routine check," said
Gomez. "We never expected something like this and it's come as a shock,
we're still in shock."
Three officers were conducting the check when Rodriguez asked the suspect
for some identification. The suspect stated he didn't have any identification
just a bus ticket and began shooting.
"We still don't know why he started shooting," said Gomez. "He just
pulled out a gun from his back and started shooting, hitting Jaime in the
abdomen and another woman in the back."
Gomez said that before Rodriguez was transported to Lubbock he and Trans
Pecos Drug Task Force Commander Gary Richards spoke to Rodriguez in the
emergency room at the Reeves County Hospital.
"He talked to us and tried to joke around. He said, `I guess that means
I'm not going to Austin,'" said a teary-eyed Gomez.
Rodriguez was to have traveled to Austin on Sunday for a school. "He
was supposed to leave on Sunday for school and was really looking forward
to it," said Gomez.
Rodriguez' death is the first for a Pecos law enforcement officer in
the line of duty in 18 years. Pecos Police Sgt. Harold Snellenberger suffered
a heart attack and died at the scene of a fatal car-pedestrian accident
involving a young child in 1984. Other longtime residents said they could
not remember any law enforcement officer in Reeves County being killed
by gunfire during the past 60 years.
Red Bluff board OKs funds for brush clearance
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- Red Bluff Water Power Control Board
members voted to spend between $3,000 and $4,500 on clearing brush along
a road on the east side of Red Bluff Lake during their regular monthly
meeting on Tuesday in Pecos.
The board was also told that the signature of the special River Master
for the Pecos River was all that was needed to begin the long-delayed Malaga
Bend salt alleviation project.
Managing director for the district, Randal Hartman, said the brush along
the road on the Mentone County side of Red Bluff Dam needed to be cleared,
since mesquite trees had grown up to the point that the area was impassable.
"We can rent a CAT (bulldozer) for $1,500 a week," said Hartman. He
estimated a two- to three-week time period to clear the brush on about
15 miles worth of road.
"We sprayed before and still couldn't get anything in there to do anything
with it," he said. However, after the bulldozer is used, "then we can use
a little spray system ourselves to keep it clean.
The board also discussed cleaning up some other property on the west
side of the lake near Red Bluff Dam, and on a motion by Charlotte Wilcox
voted to look at tearing down the Red Bluff Hotel, which has been abandoned
for many years.
"The stucco is coming off the walls and the floor is falling in," said
Hartman, who said he would look into demolition costs. "If I can find somebody
to go in there and reasonably do it, I'll do it," he said.
The Malaga Bend project has been in the works for five years, and Hartman
told the board that once the River Master signs off on the agreement between
Texas and New Mexico, work can begin on drilling a well to pump the salt
spring water at Malaga Bend away from the Pecos River.
"Our part is done down. We still lack the River Master's signature,
but that should be done in the next few days," said Hartman.
Under the plan Red Bluff is giving up Texas water rights to New Mexico
roughly equal to the amount of water flowing into the river at Malaga Bend.
The salt water from there will be pumped away from the lake to man-made
ponds built by Sun West Salt Co., which will then evaporate the water and
mine the remaining salt.
"As soon as they get that (signature) they will start drilling the wells
and pay us to put in those (monitoring) meters," Hartman said.
Hartman was also asked by Tom Nance of the Ward County Irrigation District
No. 1 and by Red Bluff board member Manuel Lujan about the extremely low
flow of the Pecos River. The ongoing drought in Texas and New Mexico has
kept Red Bluff from allotting any water to farmers along the Pecos River
this year, and the board was shown that the lake level in April was virtually
unchanged despite the lack of any water release.
Hartman said water releases down the river are currently about 20 acre/feet
a day. "It's hard to make it less, and it comes out regardless," due to
seepage at the dam, he said.
Board members also approved the quarterly investment report, along with
monthly cash disbursements and accounts payable for April during the meeting,
and discussed holding a meeting sometime later this year at Red Bluff Lake,
instead of at the district's office on West Second Street in Pecos.
Family able to visit Rodriguez before death
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- Trans Pecos Drug Task Force Officer
Jaime Rodriguez had one last chance to talk to his family after being shot
by a passenger on a Greyhound bus Thursday morning.
"He had a chance to talk to his children and tell them how much he loves
them," said Elodia Hartnett, Rodriguez' mother-in-law.
Hartnett's daughter, Diana Rodriguez a first grade teacher at Austin
Elementary School and his two children, Jessica, 17, a senior at Pecos
High School and Jayme Lee Rodriguez a first grade student at Austin Elementary
School, were able to visit with Rodriguez at Reeves County Hospital before
he was flown to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock where he died while
undergoing surgery for gunshot wounds to the abdomen.
"He asked for forgiveness and he told me how much he loved us," said
Diana Rodriguez. "He said he was sorry and that he loved us very much."
Rodriguez said that he then gave his daughter, Jessica his badge and
gave his son, Jayme his watch.
"He gave them the things and then he said not to worry and not to go
to Lubbock," said Rodriguez. "I told him I loved him and that I would be
in Lubbock with him."
Rodriguez was a 1982 graduate of Pecos High School and both he and his
wife graduated from Sul Ross State University in 1983 with a Bachelor's
He worked as a police officer at Sul Ross and then he went on to the
Border Patrol and worked as a Border Patrol Agent in San Clemente, Calif.,
from 1996-1997. The couple moved back to Texas and he worked in Alpine
and later moved to Pecos. He was assigned to the Trans Pecos Drug Task
Force first through the Reeves County Sheriff's Department and later in
His daughter, Jessica was honored last evening with several awards at
the Pecos High School sports banquet. "The girls on the softball team created
a frame with a picture taken of her catching a ball on first base and her
daddy in the background," said Hartnett. The double frame is signed on
the other side by the softball team.
"I thought that was so special of them, to do that for her, because
she loved her daddy very much and they were very close," said Hartnett.
"She has a lot of friends and last evening she wanted to attend the evening,
because she wanted to make her daddy proud, because he was so good in sports."
Hartnett said that Rodriguez attended all of his daughter's games and
would park directly behind first base, the position his daughter played.
"In the emergency room, he was trying to talk to us and to his son,
but he couldn't and just gave us a thumbs up, meaning that everything would
be okay," said Hartnett. "We were hoping it would be."
Funeral services for Rodriguez have been scheduled for 10 a.m., Monday
at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in Pecos with Father Ben Flores officiating.
A rosary will be held at 7 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday at the Pecos
Funeral Home Chapel.
Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Diana Rodriguez of Pecos; one son,
Jayme Lee Rodriguez, one daughter, Jessica Rodriguez of Pecos; four brothers,
Danny and his wife, Elisa Rodriguez of Pecos, Juan and wife, Liz Rodriguez
of Snyder, Genaro and wife, Betty Rodriguez of San Angelo, Joel and wife,
Megan Rodriguez of Midland; five sisters, Irma and husband, Rudy Martinez
of Pecos, Rosalinda and husband, Danny Chavarria of Fort Stockton, Emelda
and husband, Armando Arredondo of Odessa, Eva and husband, Mitch Lyles
of Pecos and Esmerelda and Michael Valenzuela of Odessa.
He is also survived by his mother, Eva P. Rodriguez of Pecos. He was
preceded in death by his father, Juan E. Rodriguez.
`Relay for Life' starts tonight to raise funds against cancer
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- Games, food and fun are scheduled for
this year's Relay for Life, which will begin tonight at the Pecos High
Relay for Life Chairwoman Terri Spence said that numerous activities
are planned for the all night relay beginning with the opening ceremony
at 7 p.m.
During the opening ceremony, Spence said that a flag ceremony would
be conducted followed by a presenting of survivors and the survivors' lap.
The relay is a chance for citizens and cancer survivors to raise money
for the American Cancer Society.
Spence said that 11 teams have signed up for the all-night walk and
will have the chance to win numerous prizes for a number of contests including
Even though the number of teams participating dropped from last year,
Spence is still confident that they will be able to meet their goal of
Last year the Relay raised $16,000.
"The teams are doing great," she said. "We've got 11 great teams and
if all goes well we'll meet our goal."
The luminary lighting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m.
The each light is purchased in honor or memory of cancer patients.
Spence said she is not sure at this time how many luminaries have been
She added that anyone would still be able to purchase luminaries up
until approximately 8:30 p.m., tonight.
Cancer survivor Sylvia Sadler will talk about her experience during
the luminary ceremony.
Spence said having a survivor tell their stories is something she has
wanted for quite some time and was excited that Sadler agreed to speak.
"She said she was ready," Spence said. "It'll be a real moving time."
Numerous games are scheduled throughout the night, according to Spence,
including a scavenger hunt, hula-hoop contest, bubble gum blowing contest
and the Road to Recovery relay race.
Spence explained that the Road to Recovery race is one that participants
build cardboard "cars" and race.
She said that it is to promote the American Cancer Society program that
uses the help of volunteers to drive cancer patients to and from cancer
"It's to encourage people to volunteer," she said.
The Relay will end with the closing ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday morning,
during which the total of money raised along with prizes given to best
campsite, most spirited team, and most money raised by a group, adult and
Spence said she appreciates the community for their support and hopes
to see many people at the Relay tonight.
"We appreciate the community," she said. "If it wasn't for the community
we wouldn't be able to raise the money."
PECOS, Friday, May 17, 2002 -- High Thursday 99. Low this morning 64. Forecast
for tonight: Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows Near
55. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent. Saturday:
Morning clouds: Becoming partly cloudy by noon. Highs ear 80. East winds
10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Lows near 60. Sunday: Mostly
sunny. Highs near 85. Monday: Partly cloudy. Lows 55 to 60. Highs near
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise