Holland named DPS officer of the year

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Texas Ranger Jim Holland describes 2016 as “a good year.”

“Caught a couple of serial killers, so it was a good year,” he said.

Holland assisted on eight cold cases, and his work helped solve six of them. That included the arrest of three suspects who confessed to the murders.

That work last year contributed to him being named the Department of Public Safety Officer Association 2017 Officer of the Year.

Holland, who is based out of Garland and has an office in Decatur, is one of seven officers in the state assigned to the Unsolved Crime Investigation Program. The program investigates cold murder cases or cases that appear to be linked to serial killers.

Many of the cases he assists with have already been looked at by dozens of investigators.

“My job is to go back through and look at (the case) again to see if anyone missed anything, to find out specifically what they missed and come up with a game plan as to how to work it,” he said.

While he can’t talk about specific ongoing cases or the techniques he uses to bring about a confession, Holland said his specialty is interviewing sociopathic and psychopathic individuals.

He also assists law enforcement agencies who are investigating murders that include ritualistic aspects, dismemberment or any “out-of-the-ordinary” murders, he said.

Last year, Holland assisted Oklahoma law enforcement agencies with cases involving William Reese as a suspect. Reese had been linked to a 2015 murder in Oklahoma, but he was also a suspect in three 1997 murders in Texas. One of those cases involved 20-year-old University of North Texas student Kelli Cox, who was abducted from a convenience store parking lot in Denton.

Holland interrogated Reese, who led the ranger to the buried bodies of Cox and another victim, 17-year-old Jessica Cain, who had been missing from Clear Lake since 1997.

The Cox case is pending in Denton County.

Holland also interrogated Donald Wright, who was a suspect in the 1992 murder of Laura Walsh of White Settlement. Wright confessed to Walsh’s murder as well as two other murders.

In the summer of 2016, Holland assisted Weatherford Police Department on a nearly 30-year-old murder case involving 19-year-old Wendy Robinson. He interviewed suspects and eventually obtained a confession from Ricky Lee Adkins, who was indicted for capital murder last November.

Holland’s work often allows families of the victims to achieve the closure they need, or at least provides them with information about what happened to their loved one.

“When you solve a case, when you dig up a missing loved one, when you get to bring the remains back to their family – I’ve had an opportunity to visit with people afterwards, I don’t know that I can explain the feeling, but it just means everything to them,” Holland said. “I can only imagine what it’s like – 20 years ago you kiss your daughter goodbye and that’s the last time you see her. What those families go through – it would be a horrible thing for someone to experience the murder of a loved one. The only thing that I could imagine that would be worse than that is not knowing what happened.”

Holland said he has enjoyed the opportunity to work with really good homicide investigators not only in Texas, but around the country.

Holland assisted the Pennsylvania State Police on a cold case murder dating back to Oct. 19, 1968. Boyd resident Richard Keiper was arrested and ultimately convicted of the murder of Alfred Barnes. Keiper, who lived in Pennsylvania at the time of the murder, is now serving a life sentence.

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