A Decatur woman was killed by her son over Mother’s Day weekend – the first of several murders that darkened the Messenger’s pages in 2013.
Investigators believe Kirk Heithecker, 50, killed his mother, placed her in the front yard and buried her under a pile of trash. When officers went to the home they shared a few miles south of Decatur, he told them he killed her “with his heel and was sending her to hell.”
He was arrested and later indicted for murder.
During his trial in November, Heithecker pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The Wise County District Attorney’s Office did not contest the plea, and after a mental evaluation, he was committed to a state hospital for six months on Dec. 11. At the end of that period, the DA can file a request that the order be renewed for up to a year, renewable as long as he remains a threat to the public.
Two other men were arrested in Wise County in separate murder cold cases from out of state.
In October, 67-year-old Boyd resident Richard Keiper was charged in the 1968 killing of Bethlehem Steel employee Alfred Barnes in Pennsylvania. After new information surfaced in the case, Keiper was questioned and confessed to the murder.
A judge in November ruled that Keiper will stand trial for murder, robbery and theft.
Earlier this month, 49-year-old Garland Allen of Hillsboro was arrested for the murder of his ex-wife in Altus, Okla., in 2001.
According to police, Allen had always been a suspect in her disappearance. The break in the case came when the case was given to the television show “Cold Justice” to review. New evidence was presented, and a murder warrant for Allen was issued.
Acting on a tip that Allen might be in the Keeter area of Wise County, officers found Allen in a wooded area near Bobo’s Crossing. A couple of days later, he led investigators to the spot in Oklahoma where he buried his ex-wife’s body.
He is now in Oklahoma awaiting trial.
Finally, the remains of a murder victim were found in late January in a pasture near County Road 4698 in south Wise County. The remains were believed to be from a man murdered during the summer of 2012. Officers arrested Javier Hernandez, 37, in north Fort Worth and charged him with murder.