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FORT DAVIS, April 28, 1997 - A militant separatist group swapped its two
hostages for a jailed member early today, more than 12 hours after
invading a neighbor's home and triggering a standoff with police.
The standoff remained unchanged since the married couple were released,
state Trooper Richard Treece said at mid-morning. He declined to say
whether police and members of the Republic of Texas were talking to each
Joe and Margaret Ann (M.A.) Rowe were released by McLaren into the
custody of Jeff Davis County Sheriff Steve Bailey. He said he and two of
his deputies went to the house to "extract the Rowes" at about midnight.
Four or five troopers were posted at a roadblock several miles away from
the entrance to the remote subdivision in the rugged Davis Mountains of
West Texas, telling some drivers to go back.
"We're still right in the middle of it," Bailey said this morning at Big
Bend Memorial Hospital in Alpine, where the Rowe were taken for
treatment following their release. He was at the hospital with James
Jepson, assistant District Attorney for the 83rd District, which covers
part of the Davis Mountains area.
"I have requested the Texas Rangers to assist me," Bailey said. The
sheriff added he's had offers "from several other agencies, but the
Rangers are the only ones assisting me right now."
Bailey added the area around the Alpine hospital is being patrolled as a
Inside the compound, the self-styled Republic of Texas "ambassador" said
the group wouldn't give up and demanded a referendum to allow Texans to
vote on being an independent nation.
"They released one of our people, our captain," Richard McLaren told the
San Antonio Express-News by cell phone from his trailer "embassy" at the
Davis Mountains Resort.
"He's back at the embassy. All our boys are back. We're digging in."
McLaren and his followed released the Rowes to Bailey's custody in a
swap for Robert Jonathan Scheidt, arrested early Sunday by Jeff Davis
County deputies on a weapons violation, Department of Public Safety
"At this point, the Republic of Texas has relinquished control of the
Rowes' residence where they were holding them hostage. They have moved
on to another unknown location within the Fort Davis resort area," said
Sherri Deatherage Green, a DPS spokeswoman in Austin.
Ms. Green said law enforcers were continuing to treat the standoff as a
hostage situation because between 90 and 150 residents of the resort
area were unable to leave.
Earlier, the DPS said at least three dozen law enforcers were
surrounding the subdivision. Treece confirmed that authorities were
inside the gate of the resort area as well.
Reporters were kept at a rest stop several miles from the entrance to
the site, 220 miles south of El Paso, the nearest major city.
The standoff began about noon Sunday. McLaren said hours later that the
Rowes would be released in exchange for two Republic members: Scheidt, a
43-year-old identified as "captain of the embassy guard," and Jo Ann
Canady Turner, arrested in Austin last week on two contempt charges. Ms.
Turner remained in custody today.
McLaren demanded another concession.
"We want them to ... agree to a referendum to allow Texans to vote on
the independence issue," he told San Antonio radio station WOAI.
Rowe, who suffered shrapnel wounds to the right shoulder, was in stable
condition at Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine. During a news
conference this morning, Mrs. Rowe said she and her husband were
convinced that the two men and a woman who invaded their home and held
them captive were willing to kill them.
"It wasn't an empty threat. If somebody will come shooting in your door,
they mean it," she said.
McLaren apparently was not part of the assault on the Rowes and remained
as his home deep in the mountains. The group refused to specify its
numbers. The DPS declined to speculate.
Although the hostages were released, other residents remained in about
90 homes scattered over thousands of acres of rugged high-desert
Neighbors were complaining for months about McLaren, a wild-haired,
lanky 43-year-old man who filed property liens against them and
threatened them with machine guns. He avoided an arrest warrant since
last December for filing bogus liens.
"We've been telling people ... this was going to happen," said neighbor
Michelle Behrendt. "They (authorities) sat on their thumbs and did
Last month, McLaren threatened to fight back against the government and
compared his situation to fatal standoffs at Waco, Texas, and Ruby
"These boys are asking for a total military assault," McLaren said in an
interview with The Associated Press. "Our defense forces will fire
because we would consider it an invasion."
McLaren has made past threats against state and federal officials,
including U.S. District Court Judge Lucius D. Bunton, who ordered
McLaren held in jail for a month last year for failing to appear a
several court hearings.
Security was reportedly tightened around Bunton and the Lucius D. Bunton
Federal Courthouse in Pecos today, but the judge was administering his
federal court docket as scheduled today.
The Republic of Texas contends that the annexation of Texas as a state
in 1845 was illegal, that Texas should be an independent nation, and
that the group's leaders constitute the legitimate government of the
independent nation of Texas. Texas was an independent republic from 1836
McLaren represents one of three Republic factions that resulted from a
split over tactics and finances late last year.
Last month, one faction "impeached" McLaren. And a message Sunday on a
World Wide Web site attributed to the Republic of Texas read:
"It appears that Richard McLaren and those acting with him have gone
completely off the deep end."
FORT DAVIS, April 28 - The last time law enforcement officials went to
the Davis Mountains Estates to arrest Richard McLaren, all they had to
do was pull him off his tractor.
This time won't be as easy.
Almost a year to the day after federal marshals arrested the Republic of
Texas ambassador for failure to appear in U.S. District Court in Pecos,
a well-fortified McLaren, backed by several supporters, are in a
standoff with state and federal law enforcement officials, following
Sunday's abduction of two of McLaren's neighbors, one of whom was
wounded during a shootout.
Neighbors in the Fort Davis area have complained for over a decade about
harassment from McLaren. It began with a claim of a few thousand dollars
against the Jeff Davis County Commissioners, but the current problems
got going in earnest last year, when a lawsuit was instituted by
Houston-base Stewart Title Co. over false property liens filed in Jeff
Davis County by McLaren. He had sought to auction off the company's
property for $10 million in silver, lawful money of the United States or
10 million pieces of silver coins containing 317.25 grains of fine
Federal Judge Lucius D. Bunton III issued an injunction in February,
1996 to stop the sale of the company by McLaren, and ordered him to
appear in court, both as a individual and as a "class defendant"
representing the Republic of Texas.
McLaren Failed to appear for that Feb. 20, 1996 court hearing, and on
April 4, 1996, Bunton issued a $1.8 million judgment against McLaren. In
between those two hearing, McLaren unsuccessfully attempted to file a
lien against the State of Texas with the Jeff Davis County District
Clerk's office, but it was accepted by the District Clerk in Travis
McLaren was next ordered to appear in federal court by Bunton on May 2,
1996 to explain why he should not be held in contempt of violating
previous court orders. McLaren issued more than 20 "Notice of Hearing"
letters summoning persons involved in the Stewart Title suit, including
Bunton, to appear in the "Republic of Texas Milam District Common Law
Pleas Court" on April 27 in Arlington.
None of those ordered to Arlington by McLaren appeared, nor did her or
any other Republic of Texas members at the May 2 hearing in Pecos.
Two days later, federal marshals went to Fort Davis and arrested McLaren
while he was farming part of his Davis Mountains Estates land. He was
transported to Ward County Jail in Monahans, and held until June 7, when
he agreed to Bunton's demand that he stop filing false liens.
During a May 9, 1996 hearing, at which time he refused to agree to
Bunton's order, McLaren made a veiled threat of retaliation by his
fellow "citizens" and said he did not recognize the federal court's
jurisdiction - but could negotiate with Bunton as a diplomat.
"Please be aware that the Republic of Texas is a living, breathing
entity, and the people will react," McLaren said. "I will not be
responsible for their reactions to what you do."
McLaren said that people of this country have lost all our values, and
people are upset when they see United Nations and German flags flying
over their land. The latter reference was to German military personnel
training at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
"Things are about to get out of hand," he told Bunton. "Can't we break
that barrier? Everyone says the only way they are going to take Texas
back is by violent overthrow. I say `No there has to be a way. We have
tried to do it under the law of nations, but we have had everything
denied to us. I have to follow my conscience, and the citizens of the
Republic have to follow theirs."
McLaren adhered to his agreement with Bunton for several months, before
resuming his actions during the fall. A new warrant for his arrested was
issued by Bunton on Dec. 19, 1996, after McLaren failed to appear for a
hearing that day. But until now federal marshals had not attempted to
re-arrest McLaren, who had attracted new followers he described as
militia group members, and brought more weapons onto his Davis Mountains
Estates property since his May 4 arrest.
"We've come this far, and we're not going to back down now," McLaren
said in a Dec. 20 statement faxed to news organizations.
"Everybody's making a big deal out of this," U.S. Marshal Jack Dean said
on Dec. 20. "It's not like it's a criminal deal. It's a civil contempt
charge; why cause a big furor?"
Dean said the warrant is on the bottom of the list, and "When it comes
up, we will arrest him."
While in custody of federal officials, McLaren was taken to Fort Davis
on May 29, 1996, to appear before visiting 394th District Court Judge
Paul McCollom on a charge of burglarizing a home belonging to Mr. and
Mrs. Jerry Garnett of Marfa in August of 1995. In both the federal and
state court hearings McLaren refused to have an attorney represent him,
but he was eventually represented in the federal case by attorney John
Fahle, who was hired by other members of the Republic.
In early March, Jeff Davis County Sheriff Steve Bailey sent a letter to
McLaren, urging him to ``take a small step back toward reality'' and
turn himself in on the burglary charge.
Warrants have also been issued out of state court against McLaren
stemming from that charge, while legislators have filed a bill in the
state Legislature targets false property liens filed by the group.
Since the May, 1996 incident, the Republic has divided into three
separate groups. One, led by Odessan David Johnson, broke off from
McLaren's group in the fall of 1996, and has been issuing statements
against the ambassador since that time.
McLaren's group was led by Archie Huel Loew of San Antonio. But on March
2, members of that faction announced McLaren and his followers had been
impeached, while McLaren announced that Lowe and his associates had been
removed from office.
William Kesterson, who maintains the Lowe group's home page posted a
notice on March 5 that after being notified of his impeachment, "Mr.
McLaren has apparently gone ballistic (sic), saying the entire Council
has voluntarily vacated their offices (except, of course, for himself
and those who support him without question)," Kesterson wrote.
PECOS, April 28, 1997 - Hard feelings over a broken automobile rear
window apparently boiled over into a brawl last Thursday that left two
men stabbed and several more injured at Northside Park, according the
Reeves County Sheriff's Department.
About a dozen men gathered at the park just outside the northern city
limits of Pecos on SH 285 around 10:30 p.m. as two of the men were going
to work out the problem that had developed over the window that was
broken about two weeks ago, said Sheriff's Deputy Cesario Urias.
"Apparently they decided they weren't going to be able to work it out
and the two started fighting," Urias said. "One stabbed the other, then
when one of the friends of the stabbed man tried to pull off the one
with the knife, he got stabbed."
Injured by the knife were Dante Cerna, 18, and Alvaro Adame, 17. Adam
Natividad, 18, allegedly welded the knife and stabbed Cerna and Adame.
Two others sustained injuries from being struck with clubs or bats,
according to reports.
"These two groups have been having problems for the last couple of weeks
over the broken back window of a vehicle owned by one of them," Urias
The fight between the two groups ended when an un-named older male took
a gun from his vehicle and fired several shots into the air. The
participants in the incident then loaded up in their vehicles and left,
according to Urias.
The incident is still under investigation by the Reeves County Sheriff's
Cerna, Adame, Natividad, Edward Garay, 17, and a minor male all were
treated for injuries at Reeves County Hospital. All were treated and
released Thursday night.
In an unrelated incident a week earlier, seven juveniles were arrested
in an alleged gang-like beating of another juvenile.
According to police reports, the beating took place about 3:30 p.m.
April 18 in an alley in the 1900 block of S. Alamo.
The seven juveniles allegedly kicked and punched the victim in the head
and ribs in what Pecos police described as a gang-type assault. All
seven were arrested and charged with assault with injuries on another
juvenile. The group was placed in detention at the Reeves County
Juvenile Center then released to their parents.
PECOS, April 28, 1997 - Early voting has been slow, but area residents
still have one more day to cast their ballots in the city, school and
hospital district elections.
Early voting will end tomorrow at 5 p.m. with 411 early votes by
personal appearance already cast.
"We had 411 as of Friday afternoon by personal appearance and 127 by
ballots mailed out," said early voting clerk Debbie Thomas.
"It has really been slow, but maybe we'll get more this afternoon and
tomorrow," she said.
Early voting is being held at the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak St.
Elections for all three races will be held Saturday, May 5 with several
polling places available.
Pecos residents can cast their vote at the Community Center, 508 S. Oak
St., while Orla resident will be able to vote at the Red Bluff Lake
Toyah individuals can go to the Toyah City Hall, Saragosa residents will
vote at the Multi-Purpose Center and Barstow residents can vote at the
Barstow Community Center.
All voting polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
In the Pecos City Council race, two challengers, Johnny Terrazas and
Carlos Campos, are challenging incumbents Dr. Elvia L. Reynolds Jr.,
Randy J. Graham and Genaro Luis Tellez Jr. They are vying for three
two-year terms on the council.
In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah race for two three-year trustee spots
incumbents Hugh Box and Steve Armstrong are challenged by Freddy Lujan.
In the Balmorhea city council election, incumbent Janell Ward is being
joined by Richard Hoefs, Blanca Barron, Olga Mendoza and Sammy Baeza
seeking the three two-year terms.
Incumbents Kathy Haynes and Norma Jean Redwine opted not to seek new
terms on the council.
In the Balmorhea ISD election four candidates are seeking two three-year
Darrell Rhyne and Reyes Castillo are challenging incumbents Paul Matta
and James Garlick in the May 3 school board race.
In Toyah, four persons are seeking three available two-year seats.
Vying for those positions are incumbents Diana Tollett and Rose Barnes,
who are joined by challengers Jana McHorse and Howard Dennett.
Bart Sanchez who currently holds the third position on the council is up
for election, but did not put in his bid for re-election.
Uncontested races are in Barstow, where incumbents Olga Abila, Lucio
Florez and Salvador Villalobos are assured of new two-year terms on the
city council and in the election for RCH board, where only voters in
Precinct 2 and Precinct 4 will cast their ballots this year. Incumbent
Marcella Lovett and Jeannette Alligood are unopposed for new two-year
Peggy McCracken placed second in the Specialty Reporting category, for
her coverage of the MECRO-`TV Nation' federal court trial last March.
She also earned an honorable mention in business reporting from the
judges in Class A. Enterprise reporter Rosie Flores received a honorable mention in
Spot News for her story on the punishment given to an Austin Elementary
student following an incident last November.
The other two honorable mention awards were for photography. Mari
Maldonado and Jon Fulbright were recognized in the feature photo
categories, and Fulbright also received an honorable mention in sports
The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. on the third floor of the Reeves County
Commissioners will discuss a personnel policy amendment regarding
payroll procedures and a vacation policy for Reeves County employees.
Other personnel matters on the agenda will be personnel and salary
changes for the Reeves County Detention Center, Road and Bridges
Department, 911 Department, the county judge's office, the Reeves County
Sheriff's Department and the juvenile detention center.
The court will discuss employee uniform allowance for the Reeves County
In other business commissioners will discuss declaring items at the
sheriff's office and juvenile detention center as salvage or surplus and
give permission to destroy or sell the items.
The court will also:
- Discuss/take action on reports from various departments.
- Discuss/take action on budget amendments and line-item transfers.
- Discuss/take action on minutes from previous meetings.
- Discuss/take action on semi-monthly bills.
- Spread on minutes: Notice of over-axle over-gross weight permits;
architectural services agreement for RCDC expansion and a contract for
Hardware Maintenance agreement between Reeves County and Business
PECOS, April 28, 1997 - Tito Calderon Prieto, 82, of Pecos, died
Thursday, April 24, 1997 at Reeves County Hospital.
Rosary was held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 25, at the Pecos Funeral Home
Chapel. Mass was held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Santa Rosa Church
with burial at Santa Rosa Cemetery.
Prieto was a retired railroad worker. He was born June 15, 1914 in
Candelaria, Texas but lived most of his life in Pecos.
Survivors include: his wife, Vicenta Prieto of Pecos; four sons, Juan,
Jessie and Victor Prieto of Pecos and Manuel Prieto of Odessa; three
daughters, Erminia Lechuga of Odessa and Frances Campos and Andrea
Natividad, both of Pecos; one brother, Francisco Prieto of Roswell, New
Mexico; one sister, Josefina Rodriguez of Balmorhea; 31 grandchildren;
and 34 great-grandchildren. He was proceeded in death by three sons.
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