A Decatur man killed his mother, took her body outside and buried her under a pile of trash on Mother’s Day weekend, according to investigators.
Kirk Alan Heithecker, 49, was arrested Sunday night and charged with the murder of his 75-year-old mother, Nancy Heithecker. He remains in the Wise County Jail under a $1 million bond.
The arrest took place at the home at 710 County Road 4270, south of Decatur, where the two lived.
Wise County deputies responded to the home in the early evening hours Sunday after receiving a call from Nancy’s daughter, who had gone by the house to see her mom for Mother’s Day. The daughter found only her brother.
When she asked about her mom’s whereabouts, her brother replied, “she’s (expletive) dead and is under the trash,” according to the arrest affidavit obtained through an open records request by the Wise County Messenger.
When officers arrived, Heithecker told them he “had killed his mother with his heel and was sending her to hell,” according to the affidavit. Officers found the victim’s body under a pile of trash in the front yard and detained Heithecker for questioning.
Heithecker told investigators that his mother had been sitting on the loveseat in the living room when he attacked her by hitting and kicking her. An autopsy performed Monday by the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office determined the cause of death was “homicidal violence” including blunt force trauma and strangulation.
Heithecker went on to tell investigators that he took his mother’s body outside and placed a robe over her to indicate she was going to hell, according to the affidavit. When he realized he could still see her body, he began throwing trash on top of her.
Heithecker, shirtless and with his hands cuffed, was led by deputies to the backseat of a patrol car. At one point, investigators rolled down the window and spoke with the suspect, who could be heard talking loudly.
“I’m singing now,” he could be heard yelling at one point, just before loudly singing “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Shortly thereafter, he was transported to Wise County Jail while another officer was securing a search warrant for the house.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson pronounced Nancy Heithecker dead at the scene.
As darkness fell, a rescue truck was positioned in front of the house to provide light on the trash-covered front yard. With search warrant secured, investigators began the task of collecting evidence.
According to the officer’s return and inventory search warrant, also obtained through an open records request, investigators collected several items including part of the loveseat and other furniture items from the home as well as a quilt, billfold, two pillows, a bath robe, a canvas bag and contents, a shirt and three pairs of pants. Those items have been sent to the crime lab for processing, according to Captain Kevin Benton with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.
What prompted the brutal attack is still not known.
Kirk Heithecker did not have an extensive criminal past, at least in Wise County, according to records on file at the Wise County District Clerk’s office. In April of 1999, he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and the district attorney’s office filed a charge of assault of a public servant the following month. According to the felony information, he hit a woman who was “a public servant discharging an official duty.”
Records show he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and spent 30 days in the county jail.
The Heitheckers’ two-story home covered in light gray siding doesn’t face the county road but rather a green pasture populated with grazing cows. The grass around the property is slightly overgrown, but the potted plants hanging on the front porch appeared to be well-kept. On Tuesday morning, the only sounds that could be heard were the chirping of birds and the creak of branches rubbing together in the thicket of trees that shield the home from view from the roadway.
The pile of trash was still clearly visible from the backyard of neighbors Donald and Terry Bice, whose property adjoins the Heithecker property.
The Bices moved into their home last October. They did not know the Heitheckers well, although they were told by other neighbors that Kirk “was strange,” Terry Bice said. Kirk was a recluse, they said, who would sometimes walk into town despite living more than five miles out in the country.
The Bices’ teenage children would occasionally see Kirk outside.
“They would wave and say ‘Hi’ to (Kirk), but he would never acknowledge anyone,” Terry said.
Donald Bice said he tried to talk to Kirk several times, but his neighbor would just turn his back to him.
However, Donald said he did have an encounter with Kirk on Saturday.
“Me and him got into it out there Saturday,” Donald said. “He had the water running, and it was running down near my barn. So I went over there and told him he needed to cut the water off. He got real belligerent.”
In fact, Donald said he’d never forget the look on Kirk’s face.
“He looked like he could of took my head off,” he said.
Donald also noticed something strange about his neighbor. All day, Kirk had been taking items out of the house and throwing it into the yard – random items like pictures off the wall, drawers from dressers, his mother’s vases, a television and all sorts of household trash. Donald didn’t know it at the time, but Nancy’s body was already lying underneath the growing pile of garbage.
It was unusual to see Kirk outside during the daytime. He never came outside very much, the Bices said, and they believed that he slept during the day and was awake at night because light would remain on in the house all night long.
What was not unusual was to see Kirk piling items in that particular area of the yard.
“Right there where that pile of trash is where he used to burn everything,” Donald said.
He shuddered to think about the plans Kirk had for that trash pile with his mother underneath.
When Kirk refused to turn off the water, Donald called the Sheriff’s Office, and deputies came to the house Saturday night. Donald said his neighbor continued to act strangely.
“He ran inside and turned all the lights off,” he said.
Benton said that officers turned off the water but could not get anyone to come to the door of the home, so they left.
On that night, the lights in the home stayed off, according to the Bices.
The next day, when officers responded to the welfare concern called in by Nancy’s daughter, the Bices were told to stay in their home. The two were able to hear some of the exchange from a window facing the Heithecker home.
The couple said they heard Kirk tell officers that his mom had “gone to hell.” They heard the officer tell Kirk to put his hands behind his back, then they heard the pop of the deployed stun gun.
“He squalled like a panther,” Donald said of the effect on Kirk.
A VISIT WITH NANCY
For a reason unknown at the time, the Bices said Kirk was taken away from the home in January. They were told Sunday that it was because Kirk had seriously injured himself with a knife.
Terry said she talked to Nancy only one time, not long after Kirk had left earlier this year, but she came away from the conversation feeling that her neighbor was “friendly and a sweet lady.” Terry told Nancy their names, and they talked about Terry’s children.
“(Nancy) said, ‘Well, they must be really good kids because we don’t ever hear them or anything,” Terry recalled.
But Nancy’s friendly demeanor changed when the subject of her son was brought up.
“I didn’t want to pry into her business, but I said, ‘Are you OK? Is everything all right?’” Terry said she asked Nancy. “She looked at me and said, ‘He’s not coming back. He’s going to get an apartment in town because I just can’t do this anymore.’ And I felt so sorry for her. I could tell she didn’t want him back.”
He did come back a few weeks later, Terry said.
The view from the Bices’ back porch remains a bucolic image of green pastures stretching to the western horizon. But it seems different now.
“It makes it very uneasy for us,” Terry said. “We like to come out here, but now you see the house and can’t help but think …” she said, her words trailing off.
“We knew he was different, and weird and strange, but we had no idea he was capable of doing what he did.”