Emergency management personnel and sheriff’s officers are out checking out the damage from last night’s storms. Photos taken by Messenger photographer Joe Duty and submitted from area residents are below. Waves of strong thunderstorms swept through Wise County Wednesday evening, bringing heavy rain, wind, hail and even reports of tornado touchdowns. Damage reports seemed to come mainly in the north end of the county, from near Crafton, north of Alvord, the Sycamore community and the Greenwood area. According to the police radio, several homes were damaged or destroyed. Trees and downed power lines littered roadways, and many residents, particularly in those areas that saw the most damage, lost power. Sabrina Easley with Oncor reported that at the peak of the storm, 2,000 customers were without power due to trees in the power lines. As of 7:45 a.m., only about 50 customers remained without power, Easley said. Power is expected to be restored to those customers by noon today. She added that the damage they saw indicated rotational winds. Hail reports from across the county ranged from pea-sized to golf ball-sized. Storm spotters reported several tornado touchdowns, but it is unclear if any of the damage reported by residents was caused by those tornadoes. There were no reports of injuries. Rain totals included 4.4 inches in Greenwood, 2.6 in Alvord, 2.25 in Rhome, 1.9 in Aurora, 1.68 in Decatur and 1 in Chico.
A tornado on the ground was photographed by Jerry Klein near Sunset Wednesday night.
A collapsed barn sits on top of an 18-wheeler flatbed at the home of Danny Taylor near Greenwood. Messenger photo by Joe Duty.
Strong winds knocked down trees and powerlines throughout the county. This damage on Greenwood Road a few miles north of Decatur shut down the road. Messenger photo by Joe Duty.
This funnel cloud was seen around 6:25 p.m. Wednesday off FM 2265 about a mile from Texas 101 between Chico and Alvord. Submitted photo by Delia Hernandez.
Storm clouds pass overhead 3 miles north of Alvord on FM 1655 at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Submitted photo by Brad Faglie.
Pea sized hail was reported in Paradise. Other areas of the county reported hail the size of golf balls. Photo submitted through Facebook by Ashley Waylon Wiley.
Areas just north of the Wise County line received even bigger hail. This baseball-sized hail fell near Bowie. Photo submitted through Facebook by Anita Farley Edwards.
Waves of strong thunderstorms swept through Wise County Wednesday evening, bring heavy rain, wind, hail and even reports of tornado touchdowns. Damage reports seemed to come mainly in the north end of the county, from near Crafton, north of Alvord over to Greenwood. According to police radio, several homes were damaged or destroyed. Trees and downed power lines littered roadways, and many residents, particularly in those areas that saw the most damage, lost power. Hail reports from across the county ranged from pea-sized to golf ball-sized. Storm spotters reported several tornado touchdowns, but it is unclear if any of the damage reported by residents was caused by those tornadoes. There were no reports of injuries.
A tornado was spotted around 6:25 p.m. on Farm Road 2265 about a mile from Texas 101. Photo submitted by Delia Hernandez.
Kirk Alan Heithecker assaulted his 75-year-old mother, killing her, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by a 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 County Road 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 found Nancy’s body underneath. When investigators asked Kirk what happened, he said his mother was sitting in the loveseat in the living room and he kicked her and hit her. He then took his mother’s body outside, “placed his black robe on her that was the process of going to hell” and then threw trash on her because he could still see her. The Southwest Institute of Forensic Science performed an autopsy Monday and determined that the cause of death is 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.
According to information posted on the Wise County Jail website, Kirk Heithecker, 49, has been charged with the murder of his mother, whose identity has not yet been released by police. According to the jail website, Heithecker is listed as being a resident at the home where the body of his mother was found late yesterday afternoon at 710 County Road 4270 south of Decatur. Heithecker had been detained at the scene Sunday night and taken to the Wise County Jail for questioning. The body of his mother has been sent to the Dallas County Medical Examiners Office where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. More information will be posted at WCMessenger.com as it is available. Read an earlier post here.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of a Decatur woman, and her son is being detained for questioning in the case. He has not been charged with a crime. Captain Kevin Benton with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department said a member of the woman’s family had called the sheriff’s office asking officers to check on the woman’s welfare late Sunday afternoon. Officers arrived and found the body of an unidentified elderly white female outside a home at 710 County Road 4270 a few miles south of Decatur. The woman’s son was detained at the scene based on his statements to officers, Benton said, and later taken to the Wise County Jail for questioning. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson pronounced the woman dead at the scene. Her body will be sent to the Dallas medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. Benton said the autopsy should be performed Monday, and they should know more on the cause of death at that point. Police continued to work the crime scene late into Sunday night. More information will be posted in this developing story at WCMessenger.com as it is available.
A Newark man was arrested early Sunday morning on multiple charges involving a shooting in his neighborhood. Officers responded to the 400 block of Country Living Drive in Newark just before midnight late Saturday night in response to a complaint about a man with a gun. When officers arrived, they reported hearing gunfire. The suspect, Kenneth Carl Carlton Jr., 38, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping, burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit another felony and deadly conduct according to the jail’s website. After Carlton was detained, medics were called to check him out due to the fact he was “tazed multiple times,” according to police radio. An officer at the scene said no one was injured in the shooting. More information will be posted at WCMessenger.com as it is available.
Voters have made their choices in local city and school elections. In Decatur, Wade Watson won Place 1 with 330 votes over Tony Mooney, who received 240. In the Decatur City Council race, Randy Bowker retained his Place 6 seat by a 163-42 vote over Peter Rivera. In the Chico School Board race, Paul Cantrell was the only incumbent to retain his seat. He received 140 votes in Place 3 while challengers Greta McDaniel received 126 and Victor Gonzales 67. Donald Clark defeated Noel Ruddick 170-161 for Place 4. Bill Hand won Place 5 by a 178-154 vote over Craig Moss. Three at-large seats in Rhome were won by Louis Godfrey (89 votes), Charles Pennington (75 votes) and Ronnie Moore (74 votes). Also receiving votes were Cole Blanche (54), Chris Graves (50) and Pattie Mitchell (19). Anne Davis-Simpson was elected to Place 3 on the Northwest School Board with 937 votes. Kyle Morris received 470 votes and Edward R. Mergenthal Jr. 95.
A Decatur teenager was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth early Saturday morning following a wreck in the Decatur Acres neighborhood south of Decatur. Department of Public Safety Trooper Gary Reid said Elizabeth Susan Roberts, 18, of Decatur was operating an all terrain vehicle, going eastbound on River Road when she didn’t make the curve at the intersection with Mockingbird Lane, left the roadway and crashed head on into a tree. Neighbors found Roberts passed out and called for help. A helicopter ambulance was dispatched and landed on Mockingbird Lane in the residential neighborhood. Reid said Roberts was flown mainly for precautionary reasons, and he did not believe the injuries were life threatening. The accident was reported shortly after 2 a.m.
In what appears to be a case of parking lot rage a student at Decatur High School used his pickup as a battering ram after lunch Thursday. According to witnesses, Josh Cummings, 17, plowed his pickup into the back of a car that had parked in a spot he wanted in a student parking section at the high school. The impact shoved the parked car completely over the curb in front of it and caused extensive damage to the back end of the vehicle. High school senior Reid Metcalf, 18, and another passenger were still seated in the car when Cummings crashed into it. There were at least three other people in the pickup. There were no serious injuries reported, but Metcalf did go to Wise Regional for an evaluation after suffering back pain from the incident. “We’re still looking into whether it was intentional or not,” said Police Chief Rex Hoskins. “We don’t think it was an accident … But it’s still early in the investigation and there are a lot of witnesses we still need to talk to.” Since many students were returning to class after lunch the parking lot was crowded, and students gathered around the wreckage. If investigators find the wreck was intentional Cummings could face a charge ranging from criminal mischief to aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, both potential felonies.
A married couple injured after their motorcycle collided into the side of a pickup early Saturday evening on US 287 south of Decatur are expected to make full recoveries. The driver, Roger Ferguson, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Justin, suffered several dislocated bones in the wreck. He was flown to JPS Hospital in Fort Worth. His wife Marla was ejected from the bike according to one witness. She has since been taken out of ICU at Wise Regional in Decatur and is now in stable condition. The couple was southbound on US 287 when a pickup pulled out in front of them near NRS Trailers. The motorcycle, which was traveling 55 to 60 mph, struck the rear driver’s side tire with such impact it tore the wheel off the truck and spun the pickup 180 degrees counter-clockwise, leaving it immobile and sitting in a ditch in the median. The driver of the pickup, Brandie Hood, and her husband, Jerry, both of Chico, were uninjured in the wreck. Three children were seated in the back seat of the truck. Two were taken to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth after they complained of soreness. Hood told DPS officers she didn’t see the motorcycle coming. Any potential charges, such as failure to yield, are still pending investigation.
Four people were injured, including two children, when a pickup pulled out in front of a motorcycle late Saturday afternoon on US 287 a couple miles south of Decatur. The pickup pulled out in front of the southbound motorcycle in front of NRS Trailers. Two people were on the motorcycle, including a female back passenger who was hurled off the cycle after it struck the driver’s side of the pickup. Amazingly, her injuries weren’t life threatening and she was transported by ground ambulance to Wise Regional in Decatur. “The male driver of the motorcycle took the brunt of the impact,” said state trooper Fred Thornton. Traffic was halted as an AirEvac Lifeteam helicopter landed in the southbound lanes to transport the man to a Fort Worth hospital for serious injuries. The female driver and male passenger of the pickup were uninjured. There were three children in the backseat. Two of them complained of neck pain and were transported by ground ambulance to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth.
The trial for suspended Wise County Precinct 4 Commissioner Terry Ross is delayed again. Monday District Attorney Greg Lowery made the difficult decision to recuse himself after being reminded that he represented Ross in a criminal case 16 years ago.
A special prosecutor will be appointed by 97th District Judge Roger Towery, who is presiding over the case, and it will be rescheduled at that time. It could be months before the matter is brought before a jury.
After two previous delays, the trial was scheduled to start with jury selection Tuesday morning. Ross is facing charges of tampering with governmental records, theft of $500 to $1,500 by a public servant, and abuse of official capacity greater than $20 and less than $500. Read more in the midweek Messenger on newsstands Wednesday.
Communications Manager Susan Gomez, with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, reported at 12:45 p.m. Monday that the county’s 911 system is down. She said CenturyLink reported a cut fiber near Decatur, and the outage stretches as far as Palo Pinto County. Many local residents may be without phone and Internet service at their homes or businesses.
Gomez said citizens can make a call from one landline to another or to one cell phone from another, but a call from a cell phone to a landline will not go through and vice versa. If you have an emergency and you’re calling from a landline, call the Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971. If you’re calling from a cell phone, call the dispatch cell phone number at 940-210-5406.
Bridgeport dispatch can be reached by cell phone at 940-389-4388.
An elderly woman was flown to a Fort Worth hospital with serious injuries after a two-vehicle accident Friday evening. She was driving an older model, Dodge passenger car westbound on U.S. 380 about 5 p.m. when she ran into the back of a pickup stopped at the red light at Devon Energy.
No one in the pickup was injured, but the woman had to be extricated. She was transported to Wise Regional Bridgeport and flown from there to a Fort Worth hospital. Law enforcement has not yet released the woman’s name. More information will be posted as it’s available.
A string of car burglaries over the weekend at a subdivision in Rhome has neighbors and police on the lookout. An eyewitness noticed four young men combing the streets of the neighborhood on foot in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 14. Rhome Police Chief James Rose said they’ve already identified at least 15 victims. “Four young men were walking through the neighborhood, opening car doors and taking GPS systems or anything else they could,” Rose said. “Most cars in the neighborhood are unlocked. This is a small town and people aren’t used to locking their cars.” But at least two homes in the subdivision had security cameras posted outside their houses. The footage was turned over to police and shows two of the suspects. In the video the men can be seen trying to open car doors. The doors are locked, and they move on. Rose said they appear to be in their late teens, possibly 17 or 18, and if anyone knows the suspects seen in the video they could probably identify them from the footage below. Rose encourages anyone with any information to contact Wise County Crime Stoppers at 940-627-5971, ext. 236.
Coy O’Neal, 80, of Decatur was injured in a single-vehicle accident shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday near downtown Decatur. Sgt. Mike Picha with the Decatur Police Department said O’Neal had been in the parking lot on the northside of the Wise Area Relief Mission building when he drove his pickup across the sidewalk, struck a guidewire, crossed Trinity Street and then crashed into the front porch of a house across the street. Picha said O’Neal sustained a cut on his forehead, but his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. O’Neal was taken to Wise Regional Health System in Decatur. Picha said O’Neal was pulling out of the parking lot and hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. Rachel Miller and her 3 1/2-month-old son, Blake, were on the couch in the living room of the home and heard the crash. A concrete porch apparently stopped the pickup’s forward progress just a few feet from Miller’s living room. They were not injured. Today is O’Neal’s 80th birthday. He was honored on Sunday for his birthday and for pulling the chains for 65 years on the sidelines of Decatur Eagles football games.
A Boyd man was flown to a Metroplex hospital after ramming his motorcycle into a passenger car south of Boyd Monday afternoon.
Carmen Miller, 56, was transported by AirEvac Lifeteam helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth with gashes on his head and multiple breaks and lacerations to his leg. His injuries did not appear to be life threatening.
Investigators said Miller was traveling northbound on Farm Road 730, near County Road 4470, behind a Chevrolet passenger car driven by Cassie Barbie, 22, of Boyd. Barbie had slowed and signaled her intention to turn left and was starting to turn when Miller attempted to pass her, ramming directly into the left rear of the car.
Although none have yet been issued, Trooper Zeb Siebeneck said Miller will be issued a citation for passing in a no-passing zone. Siebeneck said because Miller also smelled of alcohol and beer and hard liquor were found on the bike, investigators will also “look into a possible DWI” on Miller.
A helicopter ambulance has been called to the scene of an accident in far south Wise County. The accident, which involves a motorcycle, occurred about 3:45 p.m. on Farm Road 730 at County Road 4770. More information will be posted as it’s available.
A tornado watch has been issued for 13 north Texas counties including Wise until 11 p.m. today. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado. The National Weather Service says there is a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms this afternoon into the evening.
A wreck between an 18-wheeler and a pickup around 9:30 Monday morning on Texas 101 at Farm Road 2265 sent one person to the hospital. Department of Public Safety Trooper William Wallace said the 18-wheeler, which was hauling water, was southbound on Texas 101 and had stopped to make a left turn onto FM 2265. A pickup pulling a trailer was northbound on Texas 101 when he attempted to go around a vehicle in front of him that had stopped to make a left turn by passing on the shoulder. The pickup then collided with the 18-wheeler as the 18-wheeler had started to turn onto FM 2265. Rescue workers had to free the pickup driver, whose name was not available, from the wreckage before he was transported to Wise Regional Health System. Wallace said the driver was in stable condition. The 18-wheeler driver was not injured.