A 70-year-old man from Rhome, considered a trusted friend by many in his neighborhood, was arrested by officers with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department March 1 for multiple counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact.
Hollis “Butch” Belcher, allegedly molested a 10-year-old girl Feb. 26 and 27 at his home on Private Road 4732 in the Diamond Ridge subdivision.
Belcher was a close friend of several people in his neighborhood. He enjoyed barbecue cookouts with neighbors, and children regularly played at his house, sometimes spending the night, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by an open records request. After one of the sleepovers, a mother observed several red marks, thought to be hickeys, on her young daughter’s neck.
The Sheriff’s Office was notified, and through interviews and the alleged victim, an investigator determined sexual contact had occurred. A forensic expert with the Children’s Advocacy Care Center in Denton assisted with the investigation.
Belcher allegedly kissed and climbed on top of the victim and inappropriately touched her multiple times. The victim stayed at his house several times and allegedly slept in the same bed with him.
“Our feeling is that he has apparently been grooming (the children) and grooming the parents, that he’s just a harmless 70-year-old man,” said Sheriff David Walker. “He did work with the investigators on Friday, and on one girl, he did admit to trying to molest her. I think there’s going to be more. It looks like he’s been living in this area for quite some time, grooming people.”
Belcher was arrested Friday at his home and placed under $35,000 bond for each count. He posted bail Saturday.
“Our investigators had to bang on the door Friday when they went to arrest him because it was so loud in there with kids inside, playing,” Walker said. “They walked him around the corner to arrest him so they wouldn’t scare the kids, then we called the parents to come pick their kids up.”
Some residents in the rural neighborhood northwest of Rhome aren’t surprised by the allegations.
“I’m not surprised at all by what happened,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “We always thought there was something wrong with him hanging out with all the little girls in the neighborhood.”
She said he treated boys in the neighborhood differently than the girls.
“He would always start rumors about all the boys, he disliked a lot of the boys, and if one of the little girls had a boyfriend he would always disapprove … I’m heartbroken for the family, but I can’t say that I’m shocked.”
“I had concerns,” said Chris Seeton, who’s lived in the rural neighborhood northeast of Rhome for 13 years. “As a mother, I would not have let my kids stay over there.”
Another neighbor, who also wished to remain anonymous, doesn’t believe the allegations.
“I still think he’s innocent,” she said. “He’s the most giving person that I’ve ever met. He’d do anything for anybody. It’s upsetting to me. If this goes to court, I hope a lot of people go to speak on his behalf.”
The case is still under investigation. Investigators believe there are probably more victims. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call Investigator Carolyn Copeland at the Sheriff’s Office, 940-627-5971.