Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Big Bend Park murder suspect flees from RCJ
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- Local law enforcement officials continue
the search for an escapee believed to be heading back to San Antonio after
escaping from the Reeves County Jail yesterday afternoon.
Reeves County Sheriff Andy Gomez said that John Michael Baker, 23, had
escaped from a vent located in a storage room where recreation equipment
Baker was being housed at the jail as of May 26, for the U.S. Marshal.
"He escaped through a vent located in the storage room," Gomez said. "His
(Baker's) rec time was from 1:35 p.m. to 2:35 p.m."
Baker is described as a white male, 6 feet 1 inch, 195 pounds, blond hair
with blue eyes and two tattoos, one on his left arm and a second one on
his right shoulder.
He is also considered armed and dangerous and was last seen wearing a
gray T-shirt and blue jeans.
Baker, is wanted on allegations of murder. He was discovered to be missing
at about 4 p.m. during head count, Gomez said.
"We do not know much about the alleged murder," Gomez said.
He, however, added that the alleged murder is believed to have occurred
in the Big Bend National Park.
According to an Associated Press story, Baker is facing murder charges
after telling Park rangers that he had killed Shannon Stewart Roberts, 43,
a fourth-year medical student at the University of Texas Health Science
Center in San Antonio. Baker then told the rangers that he had buried Robert's
body in the park where it was found on March 31, 2000.
Baker is from Leon Valley, located just outside San Antonio on State
Highway 16. Gomez added that Baker's attorney out of San Antonio has notified
family and friends and has asked them that if they hear from him to notify
"His mother actually heard it on the news and called us," Gomez said.
He added that Pecos Fire Department volunteer Brian Fuentes had seen
Baker crossing the street in civilian clothing with what appeared to be
legal papers in hand. Baker was working outside the city's fire station,
which is located just south of Reeves County Jail.
"He (Baker) told Brian that his lawyer had bonded him out," Gomez said.
"Baker acted very calm."
Baker was also spotted hanging around the Pecos Christian Home, which
is located on the corner of 12th and Elm streets. At first, officials believed
that he had taken the Christian Home van because it was not there.
"He had been seen around the Christian Home," Gomez said. "We though
he might have taken the van because we could not locate it. However, we
found the man of the Christian Home and the van. They are both in Balmorhea
and are safe."
As law enforcement officials continue to look for Baker, Gomez said that
he believes Baker may still be in the area.
"I think he is still in the area," Gomez said. "We have set up road blocks
on Highway 17 and 285."
Currently the Reeves County Sheriff's Office, the Texas Department of
Public Safety, the Trans Pecos Task Force, U.S. Boarder Patrol, U.S. Marshals
and the Texas Rangers are all involved in the search for Baker.
"We have everything," Gomez said when asked if they had helicopters and
dogs helping them in the search.
Baker's escape is the first from Reeves County Jail since March 8, 2002,
when Steven Perez walked away from the facility while on work detail on
the jail grounds. He fled to Juarez, Mex., but was caught six months later
in an Odessa residence.
Though this is not the first time the Reeves County Sheriff's Office has
had an inmate escape, Gomez said that there is a difference between the
first incident and this one.
"The first one (Perez) was a trustee that walked off," Gomez said. "This
time the inmate escaped from the prison."
While the investigation continues, Gomez said that once they find out
what happened there would be some changes done with in the jail.
Commission appointments among city council's items
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- The Town of Pecos City Council will hold
its regular morning meeting at 5:30 p.m., today at City Hall.
The late start is due to the fact that a quorum would not be in attendance
during the morning hours. The council usually holds its first meeting of
the month in the morning.
The council will discuss the Texas Property Tax Code for Submission of
roll to governing a body.
Other items on the agenda will be the appointment to the planning and
zoning commission, the auditor's proposal for engagement, a resolution for
the closure of the alleyway between Fourth and Hackberry and the 2003-planning
The council's minutes from its regular monthly meeting of July 24 and
its special meeting of July 31, the accounts payable report and the juvenile
report will also be up for approval.
Police get new method to find missing children
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- When a child is reported missing, time is
one of law enforcement's greatest enemies and now the Pecos Police Department
has implemented a new program that will help with the location of the missing
"Every hour a child is missing, the likelihood of a safe recovery decreases,"
said Pecos Police Department Officer Mike Balog.
In order to ensure a high level of preparedness for child abduction cases,
the Law Enforcement Agency, announced the implementation of LOCATER, the
Lost Child Alert Technology Resource, according to Balog.
"There are many challenges facing law enforcement personnel in missing
child cases," said Balog. "One of the greatest is collecting and disseminating
the child's descriptive information quickly," he said.
With that goal in mind, LOCATER was created to provide the computer hardware
and software needed to rapidly distribute critical missing child data on
a local, statewide or nationwide basis.
"I've been working on getting this for the past six months," said Balog.
"They provide all the required equipment."
Balog said that the agency also provided all the items needed for the
SKID children's identification program the police department sponsored last
Children in Head Start through 6th grade were fingerprinted and photographed,
according to Balog.
"This program laid out the groundwork for this other program," he said.
If a child is abducted or runs away, the parent can just bring in the
package they received during the SKID program and in one minute the local
office will have a photo, poster and description sent out to all the other
agencies. "The first few hours are the most important," said Balog.
Balog said that he also has do-it-yourself I.D. Kits that parents can
do at home.
"I urge parents to do this," said Balog. "We can do all kinds of posters
and this will increase response time, as far as getting the word out to
all the agencies for the Amber Alert System."
The Pecos Police Department obtained and is pleased to be working with
the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to implement
LOCATER. United States Congressional funds allow NCMEC to provide the LOCATER
system free-of-charge to law enforcement agencies that investigate missing
child cases. NCMEC has found that when pictures of missing children or abductors
are made available to the public, one in six children are recovered as a
"What's neat about this, is that of a child runs away, if they are headed
to Odessa, they won't even make it to Pyote before we locate them," said
Balog said that he would have this all set up in his office and wanted
the community to know that the police department now has that capability.
Use of the LOCATER system, comprised of a Dell Pentium IV computer, HP
DeskJet 940C printer, high-resolution scanner, and customized software,
is not limited to missing children cases. It includes templates for more
than 100 different types of posters such as missing adults, wanted persons,
and crime alerts.
Budget, tax rolls for 2003-04
top school board discussions
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members will
discuss the 2003-2004 budget and take possible action on 2003 certified
appraisal roll and anticipated collection rate by tax collector during their
regular monthly meeting today at 6 p.m. in the Technology Center to discuss
The public is invited to attend.
Board members will receive an update on the Statement of Finances for
2002-2003 and 2003-2004 and will discuss and take action on proposed date
for public meeting to discuss and hear public comment on 2003-2004 budget
and proposed tax rate. They will also discuss purchasing technology for
identification badges for employees and students; requests for purchase
foreclosed properties and teacher appraisal calendar and PDAS appraisers;
Other items include discussion and approval of bus routes for 2003-2004;
Title III Shared Service Arrangement Agreement for 2003-2004 with Region
18 Education Service Center; change in TASB Policy DEC Local: compensations
and benefits; leaves and absences; change in TASB Policy FMG Local: Student
activities: travel and DEE Local; compensation and benefits, expense reimbursement.
The group will present plaques to Media Honor Roll recipients and discuss
a letter from Rebecca Spencer, resignation from ESC 18 Board of Directors.
Under old business: the board will hear a report on Pecos High School
mold remediation, Austin Elementary HVAC, and the new softball field; consider
and possible action on rescinding the prior approval to enter into a one-year
agreement with Pepsi and reconsider requests for proposals for full-service
beverage vending machine agreement or requests for proposals for partial
service beverage vending machine agreement.
Board members will discuss and take possible action on competitive sealed
proposals for property, casualty and general liability insurance; competitive
sealed proposals for fleet insurance; 2002-2003 budget amendments; request
for proposal for attorneys to investigate and file all claims for under-valuations
of real property (mineral interest only) for purposes of determining liability
for ad valorem taxes and underpayment of ad valorem taxes and underpayment
and non-payment of royalty interest and for any further recovery of all
The group will meet in closed session as authorized by the Texas Open
Meetings Act, Texas Government Code, Section 551.101 et. Seq., Section 551.074:
Discuss personnel or hear complaints against personnel.
Board members will take action if any, on items discussed in closed session.
They will consider and take possible action on professional personnel:
appointments, change of contract, resignations, retirements.
Regular agenda items include: tax report, depository securities report,
current bills and financial report, investment transaction report, reconciled
bank balance report, Reeves County Community Recreation Department report,
date and time for next meeting, calendar of events and request for items
for next agenda.
County cancels meeting due to attorney's absence
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- Reeves County Commissioners have cancelled
a special meeting that had been scheduled for 4 p.m., Thursday, in the third
floor courtroom because a lawyer who commissioners were scheduled to meet
with cannot be in Pecos today.
The Law Office of Ramon Garcia notified the judge's office to inform
them that the law firm would not be able to attend the special meeting.
The firm stated that they would attempt to attend the next regularly scheduled
meeting, set for Aug. 25.
The group was to discuss a proposal to hire attorneys to investigate
and file all claims for under-valuations of real property (mineral interest
only) for purposes of determining liability for ad valorem taxes, and underpayment
of ad valorem taxes, and underpayment and non-payment of royalty interests
and for any further recovery of all related claims.
Overnight fire destroys bale pile outside dairy
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- Pecos Volunteer firefighters were called
out early this morning to battle a fire in a pile of alfalfa and silage
bales at the Jersey Dairy, but ended up just being able to protect neighboring
bales from the fire, which continued to burn late this morning.
The fire was located just north of County Road 211, between Pecos and
Toyah and began sometime around 5 a.m. "The feeder said when he went to
work he saw it, a little after 5:20 a.m.," said Daniel Dominguez, general
manager for Jersey Dairy.
"He pulled some of the alfalfa and said he could smell something funny,
and when he came back to mix the food he found it on fire," said dairy owner
When firemen arrived on the scene the pile of alfalfa and silage was
fully engulfed just to the south of the dairy pens. "The pile was in the
middle, and there were two piles on either side," said fire chief Roy Pena.
"We weren't able to save that one, but we were able to let them move the
other bales away."
"Nothing else caught fire. We were able to move the other hay out of
the way," said Dominguez.
Firemen remained on the scene after sunrise, keeping an eye on the smoldering
remains of the hay pile in case any sparks cause problems for other nearby
feed or equipment.
Dominguez said there were between 240 and 270 bales in the stack that
caught fire. Of that about 140 were alfalfa and the others were silage.
The value of the lost bales was estimated at $20,000.
Wal-Mart to hold teacher day Friday
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- Wal-Mart will be sponsoring a Teacher's
Appreciation day from 7-8 a.m., Friday, Aug. 15, at the local store.
Wal-Mart will be giving away door prizes and refreshments will be served.
This event is for all school personnel.
Barbeque plate sale set at Saragosa Hall
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- A Barbecue Brisket Plate Sale has
been set for 11 a.m., Friday, Aug. 15, at Saragosa Hall.
The fundraiser is to help with medical expenses for Brenda Fuentes (a
Plates will be $4 a plate and deliveries will be made on four or more
To order call 445-5225 on Friday.
PECOS, Thurs., Aug. 14, 2003 -- High Wednesday 96. Low this morning 67.
Forecast for onight: Mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms.
Lows near 60. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy with a
40 percent chance of showers or thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 80s. East
winds 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance
of showers or thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s. Saturday: Partly cloudy
with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the lower 90s. Sunday:
Partly cloudy with isolated showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the mid 60s.
Highs in the mid 90s.
Robert Miles and Mari Sigala
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 2003 by Pecos Enterprise