A macabre scene unfolded near the murky waters of Eagle Mountain Lake last month.
Investigators with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office have strong reason to believe a body found in the woods near the lake just south of Wise County on the afternoon of Aug. 2, was a man who was slowly and brutally beaten and tortured to death.
Although the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet officially determined the identity of the human remains found, investigators have strong reason to believe them to be 34-year-old Earnest Lackey of Fort Worth.
Two women, who told investigators they were looking for “timber to burn,” found the body beneath a piece of carpet in a dense wooded lot in the 5400 block of Crest Drive. The road is located just south of the Kenneth Copeland Airport and has a Newark zip code.
A red jacket and tattoos discerned on the badly decomposed body, along with interviews, connected the body to Lackey. According to information contained in a search warrant, Lackey was last seen alive July 12 at a trailer home on the south end of the lake in the 6100 block of Big Wood Court. The trailer is several miles south of where the body was found.
Ronnie Wayne Freeman, 32, lives at the trailer. He’s since been charged with murder. As of Friday he was still in Tarrant County Jail under a $100,000 bond.
According to the search warrant, witnesses at the home at the time said Lackey was tied up, beaten and tortured with various tools throughout the night. More arrests might be pending as several men allegedly took part in the in the torture and death of Lackey.
At one point an electric drill was allegedly used on the victim and “(Lackey) screamed like he was dying.” They also heard someone telling Lackey to “Take it! Take it like the [expletive] you are.”
Freeman happened to already be in the confines of the Tarrant County Jail when he was charged with murder Aug. 8. He had been arrested July 15, just days after the alleged murder, for an outstanding assault warrant.
During the search of the trailer, investigators confiscated a host of tools possibly used in the alleged torture and death of Lackey, including wire, vice grips, pliers, a screwdriver and knives.
When the victim was finally found, weeks later, the string of 100-plus degree days had caused his his body to decompose rapidly. He’d been bound at his hands, feet and neck and had several broken bones.