Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide for Reeves County, Trans-Pecos, Big Bend of West Texas
Tuesday, January 13, 1998
Kidnapping suspect remains at large
By GREG HARMAN
The abduction of a woman from a Sherman, Tx, cemetery has
evolved into a man hunt in Pyote.
The 48-year-old woman had been visiting her father's grave
site when she was abducted about 3 p.m. Sunday by a Hispanic
male who told her he wanted her to drive him to Mexico.
Ward County Sheriff Ben Keele said that the woman escaped
from the man, who is reportedly armed with a knife and a
gun, after talking him into stopping the car to use the
restroom near Pyote around 11:30 p.m. that night.
"They both got out of the car," said Keele, "then she ran
back and reached in the car and grabbed the keys and her
purse and ran away."
Keele said that the woman found her way to the West Texas
Children's Home (now the West Texas State School) where she
phoned the police.
The suspect is in his early 20s and is described as about 5
feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, with a mustache and goatee.
He was last seen wearing a leather jacket. Anyone with
information is asked to call the Ward County Sheriff's
office at (915) 943-6787.
More clues sought about missing man
By CARA ALLIGOOD
Julio Cesar Cantu has been a missing person since early
April, and was last seen in the Pecos area. Cantu's family
is still actively searching for him and desperately hoping
for answers to their questions about his disappearance.
Cantu's aunt, Janie Rodriguez, is coordinating the family's
efforts to find Julio. His disappearance is featured as the
Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers "crime of the week."
Cantu, 24, was reported missing on April 4, 1997. He was
seen at a Pecos convenience store on May 6, and his
abandoned pickup truck was found in a remote area of land
belonging to Bob Kelton on May 31.
A ranch hand working for Kelton spotted the vehicle while
moving cattle from one side of the pasture to the other
side, according to a Reeves County Sheriff's Department
report. The report states that the ranch hand "tried to open
the slightly opened sliding back window, but when he did so
he smelled foul odor coming from inside the pickup. He then
stated that he looked inside the vehicle through the window
and saw what he believed to be a dead dog on the floor board
of the pickup. He then left the area and reported it to Mr.
The contents of the vehicle had not been disturbed, but
provided no evidence. Photographs of the location, vehicle
and tire tracks were taken by law enforcement officers.
A land and air search of the area around where the truck was
found was conducted by Reeves County Sheriff's Deputies and
Sheriff's Posse members, but still no evidence was found.
Another unsuccessful land search was made on horseback on
The family now hopes that someone will call Crime Stoppers
with a tip that will lead them to Julio.
Although not many people realize it, you can collect a
reward for providing information to Crime Stoppers and still
remain anonymous, according to Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers
Coordinator Wanda Ryan.
"When you call Crime Stoppers, you are issued a tipster
number," Ryan said. You do not have to give your name, phone
number, address or other identifying information. By law,
Ryan said, calls to Crime Stoppers cannot be recorded, and
Caller ID is not used.
Ryan said that informants will be asked a series of
questions. In this case, information will be forwarded to
the Texas Ranger in charge of the investigation.
When a Crime Stoppers case is solved, that information is
printed in the newspaper. At that time, anyone who provided
information should call Crime Stoppers back at 445-9898,
give their tipster number and find out if their information
was useful in solving the case.
More than one person has been paid for providing the same
information in the past, Ryan said.
Tipsters have the option of choosing to be paid by check or
in cash, Ryan said, but most pick cash so nobody will know
who they are. Tipsters can also choose how to have their
"For instance, you can have cash delivered in a plain white
envelope to any location at any time of the day or night,"
Ryan said. The payments are made by Crime Stoppers board
members, who do not discuss details with anyone else. The
cases are only discussed at board meetings when the board
determines the amount of the reward. "A Crime Stoppers board
member will not go back to the location (where the reward is
dropped off) or wait for you (to pick up the envelope), Ryan
Water board considers TWDB regional plan
By JON FULBRIGHT
Board members for the Red Bluff Water Power Control District
continued to discuss the effects of the Texas Water
Development Board's proposed regional water plan, while
setting tentative water release plans and water rates for
1998 during their monthly meeting Monday afternoon.
Board members also received the fiscal 1997 audit report and
heard from auditors Randy Graham and Becky Espino of Graham,
Card & Co., who found no major problems with the district's
Accounts payable and cash disbursements for December were
also approved with little discussion.
The board agreed to contract with HDR Engineering to draw up
a water conservation plan for the district at a cost of no
more than $10,000, following a presentation by HDR's Sonny
Kretzchmar. The motion was made by Dick Slack and seconded
by Charlotte Walker.
Kretzchmar and Red Bluff general manager Jim Ed Miller
travelled to an area meeting Monday night in Kermit on the
proposed water plan, and were also scheduled to be in
Midland this morning, for the TWDB's public hearing to
receive comments on the regional water plan.
"Essentially you're going to try and get more conservation
efficiency with less water use," said Kretzchmar, while
board members and Pecos River Compact Commissioner Brad
Newton told him some of the proposed actions that would be
included in a district water conservation plan, such as the
salt cedar eradication plan discusses by state and federal
officials this past Fall.
Conservation plans will be required from any government
entity or business which has domain over 10,000 acre/feet of
water or more. That would include several of the smaller
water districts in the area, and board member Dick Slack
asked Kretzchmar, "Can you work it to have Red Bluff's plan
used by the other districts?"
"Let me get a quarter way through this plan, and I'll be
able to tell," Kretzchmar replied.
The board also weighed which water planning area would be
more beneficial for them to be in. Under the TWDB's main
plan, the entire Red Bluff area will be on the western edge
of District F, which extends east to Brownwood and takes in
the Midland-Odessa, San Angelo and Big Spring areas.
Newton felt Red Bluff would be better off in District E,
which includes El Paso and the Big Bend area. He said since
each district's board will be made up of 11 members, Red
Bluff had a better chance of getting representation in the
However, other members were worried about El Paso's ongoing
water needs. "El Paso would trade us (Red Bluff's water
rights) to New Mexico for their water," said board member
Lloyd Goodrich, while Kretzchmar said the federal government
has just recently allowed interstate water trading along the
Colorado River, which could set a precedent for future
Texas-New Mexico water deals.
Board president Randall Hartman said "None of the other
counties (in District F) have a quarrel with New Mexico, so
it's likely they would not mess with us."
Later, on the subject of New Mexico, Miller told the board
the plan to pump salt water away from the Pecos River at
Malaga Bend and into salt collecting ponds is almost
finalized. "I talked with Albert Wagner (of Sun West Salt
Co.), and he said the paper are signed," Miller said.
The district will still have to obtain a permit from the
state of New Mexico before pumping of salt water can begin.
Meanwhile, increased water flow into Red Bluff Lake has
increased its level to 92,000 acre feet and improved the
water quality, board members were told. "We can notify the
districts we can make at least a 30,000 acre/feet allotment
in February," Miller said. "If we get more water and feel we
can stretch it, we can increase the allotment."
The board also took preliminary steps towards setting a
price of $3 per acre/foot for Red Bluff water, up 50 cents
from last year. Final action will not be taken until
February, but board members in favor of the change cited the
improved water quality as the reason for the increase.
Goodrich and Manuel Lujan, Jr., were the board members
opposed to the change. Goodrich said the district had a rate
of 75 cents per acre/foot for 50 years, until 1986, when it
was raised "to cut down on waste."
He acknowledged the current price "is the cheapest water in
the U.S., but it's also the worst water in the U.S. in use
Earlier, the board also delayed final approval of the audit
report until February, in order to give members time to
Graham said the district's records were in good order, and
Espino said cash on hand was up from $647,000 to $753,000.
She added that revenues were down slightly due to lower
water sales, but Red Bluff also saw its costs from legal
Operating expenses were down slightly, after rising the
previous four years, and although estimated excess revenues
of $82,000 came in at $5,000 below that figure, Espino said,
"It was still a good year overall."
The only changes suggested were on tax status for district
employees' vehicle allowances and on the salaries of board
members. Espino also said she had talked with district
secretary Robin Felts about updating Red Bluff's property
list, which dates back to 1940.
P-B-T ISD board considers personnel changes
By ROSIE FLORES
Lamar and Barstow elementary schools have a new face on
Robert Hernandez has been assigned to the position of
principal at both the elementary schools, according to
Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD Superintendent Don Love.
"These transfers will have to be approved Tuesday night
during the school board meeting," said Love.
The PBT ISD board will meet at 6 p.m. today at the board
room at 134 S. Park St.
Love has the authority to re-assign or add new duties to
personnel already in the school district, however, the PBT
ISD board has to approve or disapprove his decisions.
The board will also consider the transfer of former PBT
Athletic Director Mike Belew to the job of principal at
Zavala Middle School.
"We'll be looking for an assistant principal for the high
school," said Love.
Hernandez was formerly the assistant principal at Pecos High
School, having been at that position for a year and a half.
Love stated that administrators are looking at some local
people to fill that now vacant position.
"We have several individuals who are working on their
administration certification, who have stated that they are
interested in that position," said Love.
Interested applicants will be assigned to fill that position
for a few days or weeks, to try out their skills.
"We don't leave that position just vacant, but have
interested individuals who would like to, try it out," said
PBT is also looking for a football coach.
"There's one individual (interested) for sure, and possibly
two," said Love.
Love stated that there are still a lot of questions that
need to be answered and discussed, but that the changes are
made to better the community and the school district.
"I really care about our students and want what is best for
this district," he said.
Commissioners dig deep at Saragosa well
By RICK L. SMITH
Reeves County Commissioners awarded bids on continuing
housing rehabilitation projects, decided to dig deeper at a
water well for a cemetery and chose members to serve on a
salary grievance committee during their regular meeting
Commissioners awarded Villareal Construction rehabilitation
contracts on the Ismael Dutchover project at $25,990 and the
A. Sanchez project at $14,220. Villareal was low bidder on
both of those housing rehabilitation projects on TCDP
Housing Rehabilitation Contract #714-160.
Earnest Garcia Sr. was awarded the D.D. Lyles housing
rehabilitation project as the low bidder at $17,100.
County commissioners will meet again at 5 p.m. today to
consider awarding bids on the C. Muniz, A. Muniz and B.
Exparza projects. Commissioners plan to award these
contracts to companies other than the low bidders and must
have the low bidders present when they make the awards.
Reeves County Housing Rehabilitation Inspector Norman Roman
recommended the contracts go to companies other than the low
bidder because the low bidder had a poor record of job
completion in the past.
In other business, commissioners decided to continue
drilling a water well for the Saragosa Cemetery despite the
fact that the well has been drilled to 304 feet and has not
"We have had the same rock formation from the start and have
hit no water," said David Bynum of Armadillo Drilling
Company of Alpine. "Maybe we will hit water in the next 60
feet, it's just anybody's guess."
Commissioner Herman Tarin, who has been overseeing the
project, expressed optimism that water will be found at the
"I sure would like to continue to see if we can hit water,"
Commissioners originally planned to drill water wells for
both the Saragosa and Balmorhea cemeteries. After
encountering difficulties in Saragosa and talking to the
Balmorhea Cemetery Committee, Tarin advised that the
Balmorhea well project probably was not needed and monies
from that project be diverted to continue drilling the
"The Balmorhea committee felt like they didn't need a well
because they can easily get water from the water district
there," Tarin said. "Instead, we can just repair some of the
water lines in the south part of the Balmorhea Cemetery.
There is a much more serious problem at Saragosa than
Balmorhea and we can use the funds to finish out Saragosa."
Commissioners approved Tarin's suggestion that the Saragosa
well be drilled another 100 feet if needed to strike water.
Members for a salary grievance committee were chosen from
the county grand jury pool by commissioners yesterday.
Twenty names were drawn from a box, the first nine will be
contacted to see if they want to serve on the committee. If
any of the nine decline the remaining 11 will be asked if
they want to serve on the committee.
The first nine names chosen were:
Orlando Hernandez Fuentes, 1015 S. Pecan
Reita Galberth, PO Box 2365, Pecos
Ann Waldrop Hess, 1221 Iowa
Florangely Rodriguez, 704 Maple
Robert O'Neil Thomas, PO Box 451, Pecos
Fancisco R. Mendoza, 2311 Madera Rd.
Don W. Beauchamp, 501 S. Alamo
Christina Renteria Winfrey, 2208 W. F
Jack Ferral Ivy, PO Box 366 Balmorhea
The 11 alternates are:
Janice Darlene Hester, 1807 S. Alamo
Robin Land, 80 Starley
David Lara Ortega, 811 E. Fourth
Romas Rodriguez Valdez, 911 S. Oak
Melinda Ramirez, Devilla Tr. Park #64
Richard W. Jacobs, PO Box 51
Rosalinda R. Morales, PO Box 11, Saragosa
Charles W. Roberts, Jr. PO Box 785
Ruben Salazar Villanueva, PO Box 2241, Pecos
Jeffery Durane Haile, 1818 S. Alamo
Josie Hernandez Varela
Clay McKinney administered oath of office
By GREG HARMAN
Clay McKinney, former Sergeant in charge of the Narcotics
Division of Reeves County Sheriff's Department, was sworn in
at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, as the new Pecos Chief of
Pecos Mayor Dot Stafford said she was delighted to be
swearing in McKinny. "I think we chose the right one," she
said. "He has our heart and intentions in his heart and
In a brief statement, Stafford said she had called McKinney
Thursday, Jan. 8, - the same day he had been voted in by the
City Council - about the possibility of administering the
oath that afternoon but was told McKinney had Grand Jury
duty that day. Stafford said that she thought he had to give
testimony in a case and hadn't understood he was serving
After taking both the oath of office and statement of
appointment, McKinney offered thanks to friends and family
recalling words that his father had once told him. "He said
you can measure success in a lot of ways. One way is by your
friends. Thanks to all."
McKinney's wife Brenda then ceremonially pinned the badge
onto her husband's shirt saying that she had "been waiting
to do this a long time."
McKinney assumed duties as the new police chief immediately.
Troy Moore, who has served as Pecos Chief of Police since
1987, will remain on staff until the end of the month to
assist in the transition.
Sign language spoken in federal court case
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
Hands flew in federal court Monday when a hearing-impaired
defendant pleaded guilty to marijuana possession.
Janice Tankersley of Midland provided the unusual American
sign language interpretation for Antonio Murrillo, 25, of
San Antonio, to ensure that he understood the court
"I was real pleased," said Kathy Long, courtroom deputy for
Senior Judge Lucius Bunton. Long spent three dyas calling
prospects before she located someone skilled in sign
"I don't understand sign language," Long said. "It looked to
me like he was understanding very well."
Tankersley interprets for the First Baptist Church in
Midland and was a little nervous about working in the court,
"I gave her some information that might help her with
court-type words," Long said. "I told her that jurors are
just regular people, and defendants don't know legal words,
so we bring it down so everyone can understand."
Murillo is to be sentenced on March 23, and he and his
attorney will be allowed to address the judge before he
"At sentencing, elocution is the only cold turkey
(interpretation)," Long said. "We have a script we go by on
sentencings and pleas, and I can give that to her."
Tankersley sat in the courtroom for awhile before Murrillo
entered his plea, so she was able to pick up some of the
jargon, Long said. Although it was her first court
experience, she has been interpreting for 20 years and
teaches sign language.
Long said she contacted an 80-year-old woman who interprets
for First Baptist Church in Odessa. "She was willing to
come, but I hated to ask her to drive," she said.
Tankersley did have car trouble on the way to Pecos Monday,
but an acquaintance from Monahans saw her problem and drove
her on into town.
"I hope she doesn't have car trouble the next time," Long
Spanish-English interpretation is common in federal court,
which has a full-time interpreter, Celia Nazaroff. However,
other languages are so uncommon that it is hard to find an
Long said she was able to get a woman from Seminole several
years ago to interpret for a Mennonite defendant who spoke
only Low German.
"We had a defendant from Armenia once, but he spoke perfect
English," she said.
Courts defendants plead guilty
BY PEGGY McCRACKEN
Criminal trials scheduled for 143rd District Court this week
were cancelled when the defendants opted to plead guilty,
and jurors were notified not to appear today and Wednesday.
However, the 20 jurors who were to report Wednesday are
instead asked to report Thursday for service in Pecos
The notice, mailed out late Monday by the district clerk,
summons the 20 prospective jurors to report to Municipal
Court at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
Municipal Court is located at 508 S. Oak Street.
Raul Lujan Barrera, 28, who was scheduled for trial Monday,
pleaded guilty to delivery of heroin and received a two-year
suspended sentence and a $1,500 fine. Judge Bob Parks placed
Barrera under community supervision for five years. He is to
pay $140 restitution to the Department of Public Safety.
Also pleading guilty Monday were Francisco S. Menchaca,
delivery of cocaine, four years community supervision and
$1,500 fine; and Benito Sanchez, posssession of cocaine,
four years deferred adjudication, $1,500 fine.
Judge Parks on Friday reduced community supervision for Juan
Guerrero from 10 years to six, on his conviction for drug
Johnny Venegas Valencia pleaded guilty to deliver of cocaine
on Nov. 8 and was placed on five years community
supervision, with a $1,500 fine.
Mario Franco Escontrias pleaded guilty to driving while
intoxicated and was placed on five years community
supervision with a $1,500 fine.
Appraisal board meets tomorrow
The Board of Directors of the Reeves County Appraisal
District will meet tomorrow afternoon to administer the
oaths of office and elect officers for 1998.
The board will discuss expenses and balances for Oct., Nov.
and Dec. of 1997; a TML risk pool insurance proposal by
Thomas Taylor; a telephone system proposal; and hear the
progress report. An appraisal review board member will be
appointed at the meeting, and litigation by LBO Energy will
The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Jan. 14 at 403 South
Crime of the Week
Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 in reward for
information leading to the arrest and Grand Jury indictment
of person(s) responsible for the incident described below.
Anyone having any information on this crime or any other
crime can call "Crime Stoppers" at 445-9898 and you will
Pecos Valley Crime Stoppers is seeking information to help
locate Julio Cesar Cantu who was reported missing by his
mother in San Juan, Tx. on April 7, 1997. Cantu is a
24-year-old Hispanic male, date of birth March 5, 1973,
weighing 175-180 pounds. He has brown eyes and dark brown
hair with a widows peak. Julio has three tattoos, his last
name "Cantu" on his stomach, a heart on his left forearm and
a spider web on his left hand.
Cantu was travelling from Mountain Home, Idaho to San Juan,
Tx. to visit his mother and relatives when he dissappeared.
He was driving a white over blue 1991 Ford Ranger pickup
with Idaho license plates. Cantu also had a co-worker
travelling with him in a separate vehicle. The co-worker
said that the two were separated in the Fort Stockton area
on April 5, 1997.
Cantu was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, baggy blue
jeans and black Adidas tennis shoes. A Pecos Police officer
checked on Cantu at a local convenience store on May 6, 1997
in Pecos. Cantu seemed somewhat disoriented and nervous at
that time. Cantu then left north on U.S. Highway 285 and has
not been seen since.
On May 31, 1997, the Reeves County Sheriff's Department
received a report of an abandoned vehicle off Reeves County
Road 428 in an open field. Reeves County deputies were led
to a remote location a few miles off Reeves County Road 428
in an open field where they found Cantu's pickup with his
dog found dead inside the truck from the heat. There was no
sign of Cantu.
Sandra Kay Ripley, 49, of Odessa, died Monday, Jan. 12,
1998, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.
Graveside services will be held on at 2 p.m., Wednesday,
Jan. 14, in Gardens Memory Cemetery, in Comanche County,
She was a 20-year Pecos resident and a longtime employee of
the First National Bank of Pecos.
Survivors include her husband, Mike Ripley of Odessa; two
daughters, Tanya Underwood and Sheryl Ripley of Lubbock;
three sisters, Barbara Wagner of Duffau, Joy Shulte of Fort
Worth, and Doris Reed of Grandbury; one grandchild and
numerous nieces and nephews.
Comanche Funeral Home in Comanche is in charge of
Kathryn Sitton, 77, of Monahans, died Sunday, Jan. 11, 1998,
at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan.
14, at Pyote Cemetery.
She was born July 17, 1920, in Van Alstyne, had lived in
Monahans for the past five years, worked as dorm director
from 1961 to 1983, for Valparaiso University and then
retired and moved to Pyote until 1992 at which time they
moved to Monahans. She also worked for the Rattlesnake Air
Base at Pyote during World War II and was a Baptist.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Fred Sitton, on
Oct. 17, 1989.
Survivors include one niece; one nephew and four cousins.
Harkey Funeral Home of Monahans is in charge of arrangements.
An Arctic cold front moved southward into Texas today,
bringing with it windy, cold weather. The front extended
early today from the mountains of Southwest Texas into
Central Texas. Some light snow or freezing drizzle is
possible in the Panhandle through this evening. The rest of
West Texas will have clearing skies tonight and mostly sunny
skies by Wednesday afternoon. It will be cloudy and cool
across North Texas with a chance of some rain and
thunderstorms on Wednesday in central and southeastern
areas. It will be slightly warmer on Wednesday. Showers and
thunderstorms are possible tonight and Wednesday across
South Texas. Lows tonight will be in the 20s and 30s in West
Texas, the 30s and 40s in North Texas and in the 40s in the
Hill Country and in the 50s elsewhere in South Texas. Highs
Wednesday will be in the 40s in the Panhandle and in the 50s
and 60s elsewhere in West Texas, the 40s and 50s in North
Texas and in the 60s and 70s in South Texas. Dense fog
reduced visibility to near zero in some areas of Southeast
Texas, South Central Texas and along the coastal bend.
Mac McKinnon, 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 1998 by Pecos Enterprise