2013’s most-read online

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, January 4, 2014

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Editor’s note: Some posts may have been edited for length.

Suspect shot in head (March 21)

The suspect firing at officers in a police chase just 30 minutes ago was shot in the head and transported to the hospital via ground ambulance. A state trooper was also on board.
7,523 page views

Woman receives 15 years for filming sexual assault of toddler (Sept. 4)

A former, longtime Wise County resident was sentenced to 15 years in prison for filming the sexual assault of a 16-month-old toddler. It took the Galveston jury only 20 minutes last Friday to find Alisha M. Drake, 24, guilty of filming the assault. Last February, Drake filmed her boyfriend, Jason Grant, 34, formerly of Paradise, sexually assaulting the baby at a home in Bacliff. The toddler was Grant’s own granddaughter. Jurors were shown the videotape of the assault. Drake’s voice could be heard on it. In the years leading up to her arrest, Drake had lived in Aurora, Bridgeport and lastly Rhome, where she was arrested in April by the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and transferred to Galveston County to await trial for the production of child pornography, a second-degree felony. The maximum sentence she could have received was 20 years.
6,717 page views

High-speed pursuit ends in fiery crash and gunfire, suspect’s identity still unknown (March 21)

A high speed pursuit that started with a deputy getting shot in Montague County ended with law enforcement and the suspect exchanging gunfire at a busy highway intersection in Decatur.
6,662 page views

Wreck at county line involves multiple patients (Nov. 30)

At least four vehicles were involved in a wreck on U.S. 81/287 just inside the Montague County line around 6:30 Saturday night. At least three helicopters were seen taking off from the scene carrying the most seriously injured, and it apparently involved two sport utility vehicles and two passenger cars. Both northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 were diverted onto the access road for hours while the highway was used as a landing zone for helicopters from at least three different counties, including an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter from Decatur. In addition to Montague County emergency responders, two ambulances from Wise County, the Alvord Volunteer Fire Department and Department of Public Safety troopers from the Decatur office assisted at the scene.
6,427 page views

The Wake of Tragedy

THE WAKE OF TRAGEDY – A passerby comforts Tina Gillium, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., after a wreck Jan. 4 where six people, including an infant, were ejected from a van. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Infant killed in rollover wreck (Jan. 4)

Horror struck on a Wise County highway this morning when a van full of passengers wrecked on U.S. 287, killing an infant. The one-vehicle rollover occurred at 9 a.m. a few miles south of Decatur. A gold minivan was southbound when it left the roadway, over-corrected, went into a side-skid and proceeded to roll two to three times before coming to a rest on its side in the middle of the median. Five of the six passengers on board were ejected, one a 5-month-old baby still in his car seat. The seat was not properly secured inside the van.
6,320 page views

1 killed in explosion (July 24)

A man welding on a trailer at Bridgeport Tank Trucks in Bridgeport was killed in an explosion just before 8 Wednesday morning. Bridgeport Police Chief Randy Singleton said the 50-year-old male, whose identity is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin, was working just outside the shop when the explosion occurred. Singleton said it appears residual fumes in the tank ignited during the welding causing the explosion that knocked the victim back several feet. The blast caused damage to two other nearby vehicles, but no other employees were injured, and it appeared the shop did not sustain damage. The debris field stretched across a 100 foot by 100 foot area, Singleton said. In addition to Bridgeport police, the Bridgeport Fire Department, Wise County EMS and Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard responded to the scene.
6,303 page views

Close Call

CLOSE CALL – The driver of this vehicle, Makaylyn Wolff, 17, of Springtown, was not injured in a Nov. 7 accident, despite being hit by two different vehicles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Driver arrested following wreck (Nov. 7)

A Poolville man was arrested for driving while intoxicated following a three-vehicle wreck Thursday night around 6:40 near Cottondale. Department of Public Safety Trooper Beau Bridgeman said Makaylyn Wolff, 17, of Springtown was stopped in the northbound lane of Farm Road 51 waiting to turn left onto Farm Road 2123 when her sports utility vehicle was struck from behind by a pickup driven by Casey Smith, 44, of Poolville. The impact pushed Wolff’s vehicle into the southbound lane of FM 51 where it was struck a second time by a southbound pickup driven by Jordan Crittenden, 26, of Springtown. Meanwhile, Smith’s pickup ran off the road and through a fence on the west side of the roadway. No one was seriously injured in the wreck. Smith was taken to Wise County Jail. The wreck had FM 51 shut down for about an hour and down to one lane for about another half-hour as the scene was cleared. Two ambulances as well as the Boyd and Cottondale fire departments responded to the scene.
6,024 page views

County judge collapses in meeting, dies at hospital (Oct. 14)

Wise County Judge Bill McElhaney was pronounced dead just before noon Monday at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. He collapsed during a meeting of county commissioners around 10:15 a.m. and was treated at the scene by Wise County medics before being transported.
5,939 page views

Wreck victim identified (Aug. 10)

A Bridgeport man was killed in a one-vehicle rollover near Lake Bridgeport Saturday afternoon. Andrew Chase Walker, 21, was southbound on Farm Road 2952, approaching a curve in the road, when he veered off the roadway, caught the edge of the pavement and overcorrected, losing control of the Dodge truck he was driving. The pickup rolled sideways before splintering a telephone pole and coming to rest in a thicket of brush.
5,295 page views

Details emerge in murder case (May 13)

Kirk Alan Heithecker assaulted and killed his 75-year-old mother, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by an open records request from the Messenger. The affidavit states that the daughter of Nancy Heithecker went to her mother’s house for Mother’s Day and asked Kirk Heithecker where she was. Kirk, 49, responded that she was dead and “under the trash.” The daughter called the Sheriff’s Office and deputies were sent to the home at 710 CR 4270. Kirk told deputies he “killed his mother with his heel” and was “sending her to hell” according to the affidavit. Investigators found a large pile of trash in front of the home and her body underneath. An autopsy determined the cause of death as homicidal violence, including blunt force trauma and strangulation. Heithecker has been charged with murder and remains in the Wise County Jail with bond set at $1 million.
5,249 page views

Saturday’s crash victims identified (Dec. 3)

The Texas Department of Public Safety has identified the people involved in Saturday’s multiple vehicle wreck on U.S. 81/287 near the Montague and Wise county line. Amanda Lee Garner, 34, of Springtown was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where she was listed in serious condition as of noon today. Kenneth Dewayne Fuller, 45, of Lewisville; Chong Kim, 27, of Irving and Wui Kim, 35, of Irving were all taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth. Fuller was listed in critical condition at the time of transport, but conditions were not available for the Kims. Lisa Marie Hall, 27, of Boyd was transported in serious condition to Bowie Memorial Hospital. The accident started around 6:35 when two northbound passenger vehicles apparently bumped into each other, sending them both across the median into the southbound lanes where two more vehicles were struck. The accident shut down the roadway for hours.
5,148 page views

2 injured in head-on collision (April 12)

Two people were taken to hospitals following a two-vehicle accident Friday morning just before 8 on Texas 114 at County Road 4599 west of Boyd. Department of Public Safety Trooper Adolfo Patterson said Valerie Carrillo, 19, of Fort Worth was eastbound on Texas 114 in a sports utility vehicle when she came over a hill and found herself behind a vehicle that had pulled out of the county road and hadn’t yet sped up to the traffic flow. Patterson said when Carrillo realized the vehicle was still moving slow, she slammed on her brakes and turned into the westbound lanes since a guardrail made going right impossible. Her vehicle struck a westbound vehicle nearly head-on, causing Carrillo’s vehicle to roll onto its side and the westbound car to leave the roadway into thick brush. The driver of the car, Nina Lamance, 38, of Boyd was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Carrillo was transported by ground ambulance to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.
5,006 page views

Motorcyclist flies off bridge after bee flies up shorts (Sept. 10)

A Paradise man was injured Tuesday morning after falling 15 feet into a dry creek bed when his motorcycle hit a guardrail on County Road 3470. Terry Himes, 57, lost control of his motorcycle after a bee flew up his shorts. He panicked and swerved into the guardrail, flipped forward off his bike and fell onto his back about 15 feet below the bridge. His injuries did not appear life-threatening, and he was wearing a helmet. Members of Paradise Volunteer Fire Department and Wise County Medics pulled Himes out of the creek after strapping him onto a sled. Himes was transported by ground to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.
4,631 page views

Sunset man in jail after wild chase (Feb. 3)

One suspect is in Wise County Jail Sunday night after stealing a trailer near Chico, leading sheriff’s deputies on a frenzied chase in which all the vehicles caught fire, and then hiding in the LBJ National Grasslands.
Shannon Hood, 36, of Sunset was charged with theft of property valued between $1,500 and $20,000, criminal mischief less than $1,500 for tearing down a fence where animals are kept, and evading arrest with a vehicle, all of which are felonies. He was also charged with evading arrest, a misdemeanor. No bond has been set at this time.
4,605 page views

Brutal Impact

BRUTAL IMPACT – Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins investigates an accident Oct. 9 where a man walked in front of oncoming traffic near the intersection of U.S. 287 and Farm Road 1810. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Man hit after jumping out of pickup (Oct. 9)

A man was hit by a vehicle about 11 a.m. today on U.S. 287 just north of Farm Road 1810. According to a witness, the man was seen rushing out of the median in front of a southbound Chrysler Pacifica. Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the victim was Mark Chavez, 22, of Albuquerque, N.M. His body bounced off the Pacifica, which was driven by Lisa Workman, 49, of Chico, crushing the windshield before he came to a rest in the middle of the road. According to the victim’s mother, Luz Rodriguez, Chavez had just jumped out of her pickup before he got hit by the other car. She said she was attempting to take him to a facility in Dallas for treatment for his drinking and drug abuse.
4,567 page views

Boyd man arrested in cold case murder (Oct. 17)

Richard Keiper, 67, of Boyd was arrested by Texas Rangers Thursday for a murder that occurred 45 years ago in Pennsylvania.
According to a press release from the Pennsylvania State Police, the agency has charged Keiper in the 1968 murder of Alfred Louis Barnes. Barnes was an assistant to the vice president of Bethlehem Steel at the time of his death, and his body was found in a field in Chestnuthill Township in Monroe County, Pa. He had been shot multiple times, and his new, 1969 Ford Thunderbird was missing from the scene. It was later recovered in Warren County, N.J.
4,548 page views

Monday wreck victim identified (Oct. 14)

A Bellevue man was killed in a wreck involving a passenger car and an 18-wheeler north of Chico Monday morning.
Larry Robert Hilbers, 43, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The wreck occurred just after 5:40 a.m. as rain fell steadily.
4,520 page views

Suspect shoots at officers, wrecks at U.S. 380 (March 21)

A car wrecked at the intersection of Business 380 and U.S. 380 near the Sheriff’s Office after being pursued by officers in a high-speed chase on U.S. 287. According to the police scanner, the suspect assaulted a deputy in Montague County and fled on U.S. 287 South. He fired multiple shots at state troopers, Wise County sheriff’s deputies and Decatur police officers while they were in pursuit. At least one vehicle caught fire and more gun shots were exchanged after the wreck. A dispatcher said the “suspect is down.” The intersection has been closed and designated as a crime scene.
4,459 page views

Sheriff’s Office tracks down home invasion suspects, arrests four (Oct. 2)

Investigators with Wise County Sheriff’s Office scoured North Texas yesterday and arrested four suspects allegedly involved with the violent Sept. 16 home invasion of an Alvord man. Three were arrested in Montague County and the fourth was tracked down in McKinney. Officers found suspect William H. Williams, 20, of Bowie, hiding in an attic of a friend’s home in Forestburg. Michael Hilt, 24, of Bowie was arrested Tuesday night in Bowie, along with Erica M. Gauna, 21, also of Bowie. And Robert A. Brown, 27, was arrested last night in McKinney. Video surveillance set up inside the 39-year-old victim’s home captured images of the three suspects, who were wearing what looked like surgical masks, breaking into his home in the middle of the night while he was asleep. Video showed the three, one who was armed with a knife, violently attacking the man in his bed, one striking him with a chair. But the victim fought back, and the assailants scattered almost as quick as they’d come. Gauna did not go into the victim’s house but stayed outside in the vehicle during the robbery and was possibly the getaway driver.
4,388 page views

Manhunt on northeast of Chico (Feb. 3)

Wise County sheriff’s deputies are searching for three men northeast of Chico. The trio fled after their pickup crashed in the midst of a pursuit Sunday morning in the 2000 block of County Road 1560. Captain Kevin Benton said the pickup was pulling a trailer believed to be stolen and during the pursuit, the driver plowed through a fence and into a pasture.
4,362 page views

Rhome PD, Sheriff’s Office investigate shooting (Nov. 5)

Rhome Police Department and the Wise County Sheriff’s Office are working a crime scene on U.S. 81/287 at County Road 4838.
At 5:22 p.m. Tuesday a woman called 911 and reported a black car driving erractically in the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 near Rhome. Sheriff David Walker said the caller reported that the driver was moving from the roadway to the shoulder and was partially off the road at times.
4,343 page views

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