Sgt. Harris' Other Unsolved Murder Case

Categories: Crime

HPD won't stand for failure to investigate homicides. Oh, wait....
When disgraced ex-HPD detective Ryan Chandler began arbitration hearings last week to try to get his job back, he got an earful from his former colleague: veteran homicide detective Brian Harris, who testified that Chandler was wrong to blame his shoddy work on an unmanageable caseload.

Chandler was fired in April after an internal HPD investigation revealed that he had failed to properly investigate more than 20 cases. According to the Chron, Harris said Chandler had no excuse -- homicide investigators' caseloads were "very manageable." Harris said Chandler didn't follow leads, and bemoaned one case with a good suspect who was never arrested. That left us wondering why, then, Harris hasn't made an arrest in the 18 months he's supposedly investigated the murder of beer distributor Ash Rowell.

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85-Year-Old Woman, aka "No Soul", Pleads Guilty to Ordering Hit on Prosecutors

Dorothy Clark Canfield might look like your grandmother, but in lockup she had an ominous nickname: "No Soul."

Canfield, 85, apparently picked up the moniker after being jailed in Montgomery County in 2012 on charges that she swindled undocumented immigrants out of $100,000 after posing as an immigration attorney. It was while she was in jail for that felony theft charge that she hatched a darker plan, according to authorities.

Two of Canfield's former cellmates testified Thursday in a Montgomery County court that Canfield asked them to help her "knock off" Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer, who was handling her theft case, according to a report in the Chron.

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Texas DPS Launches App for Tracking Sex Offenders, Most Wanted and Human Trafficking

Categories: Crime, Tech

Find sex offenders near you.
When it comes to apps, I have a great appreciation for simplicity. Often, the most powerful ones are also the easiest to use and understand. If I need to be an engineer to find what I need when I tap an icon on my phone, chances are that app won't remain on my phone for long. After all, this is a tiny screen throwing a mountain of data at you all at once. It better get it right, and quickly.

Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when I took a peek at the Texas Department of Public Safety's new app designed primarily for tracking sex offenders, most wanted criminals and human trafficking operations. Rather than trying to do everything, the Texas DPS app focuses in on these specific initiatives and, as a result, is extremely effective, albeit a tad on the uncomfortable side. No one really wants to know -- do they? -- that the guy down the street was once busted for public indecency, but if they are going to have that list, I suppose an app that makes those individual easier to find is a good thing.

So, naturally efore doing anything else, I immediately called up the sex offender registry and tapped the "near me" icon. On the map were color-coded pins where sex offenders were registered ranked by risk: none, low, medium and high. Tap an icon and get detailed information and photos about the offender. It was quick, easy and informative. Fortunately, there was only one guy in my neighborhood, a gentleman who had served a few years for having sex with a 15-year-old when he was 20. Now, around the Houston Press offices on the south side of downtown...well, let's just say I would recommend people remain indoors.

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Police Chief: Officer Didn't Abandon Dog That Died

Categories: Crime

Courtesy Josie Garcia
We don't want to spoil the ending, but apparently the wrecker driver did it!
A Houston police officer did not leave a dog to die after an arrest, as the dog's owner claimed, Chief Charles McClelland announced last week.

Josie Garcia had accused the officer, who'd arrested her husband and a passenger for possession of a controlled substance July 13, of allowing the couple's nearly blind, elderly chihuahua to remain on the side of the road, rather than let a family friend pick him up.

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Déjà Vu at the Montgomery County Jail

Categories: Crime

Montgomery County Sheriff's Office
Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. As Montgomery County officials consider spending $200 million on expanding their jail, let's hope they keep the old maxim in mind.

Capt. David Moore, Montgomery County's jail administrator, says he struggles every week to keep the jail's inmate count below its 1,253-bed capacity. In recent months, he says, he's had to ship dozens of inmates off to jails in neighboring counties. The lockup is only one of five in the state currently rated as being "at risk" for overcrowding by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.

County officials project that in 20, years they'll need space for at least 1,000 more inmates than they currently have room for. So last week Montgomery County commissioners began considering proposals to greatly expand the jail or build a new one.

If this all sounds familiar, it should.

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DA Candidates on Weed: Talking Points Over Data Points

Thumbnail image for Marijuana.jpg
Photo by United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia Commons

Though marijuana possession remains a jailable crime in Harris County, the law of the land is shifting toward leniency for offenders. Both contenders in the November race for Harris County District Attorney have presented alternatives to convicting those caught with pot.

DA incumbent Devon Anderson and challenger Kim Ogg agree that the old ways need to change, but they clash on how much. The confusion likely stems from the fact neither candidate has the numbers to back her plan. One lacks a cost-savings analysis, and the other has provided practically useless estimates.

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HPD Confirms Identity, Investigation Into Officer Who Committed Suicide

Categories: Crime

The Houston Police Department has identified the officer who shot and killed himself on Tuesday as Senior Police Officer Rudolph Farias, a 21-year veteran of the force.

Farias joined HPD in May 1993 and worked in the department's traffic enforcement division. He was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a parking garage behind the HPD jail near downtown, according to authorities.

Officers spotted Farias's emergency lights flashing in the parking garage at about 4 p.m., and checked inside his HPD patrol car. According to authorities, Farias was slumped over, still dressed in his patrol uniform.

Farias was let go from HPD late Tuesday afternoon as the result of a ticket-rigging scheme involving three other officers, KHOU reports.

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Suspected Stay Family Killer Awaits Psychiatric Evaluation

Categories: Crime

Photo from the Harris County Sheriff's Office

Ronald Lee Haskell, who allegedly killed six former in-laws in Spring, Texas, stayed out of sight for Monday's status meeting between his attorney and the prosecutor, the Chron reports.

In his last court appearance on July 11, Haskell dramatically collapsed upon hearing the charges against him. According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Haskell posed as a FedEx deliveryman to enter the house of former sister-in-law Katie Stay. Authorities say he then bound all members of the family, interrogated them about the whereabouts of his ex-wife, and shot them execution-style.

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Theresa Roemer Says Some of Jewelry Mailed to the Houston Press Is Hers

Categories: Crime

Photo and video by Kaitlin Steinberg
A person claiming to be the infamous Woodlands Closet Bandit says these items are all fake

Theresa Roemer has identified some of the jewelry mailed to The Houston Press by a self-proclaimed burglar as belonging to her.

"Mrs. Roemer did come in and identify some of the items as items that were stolen from her residence," Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Lt. Brady Fitzgerald told the Press Monday. He could not say which of the items, which the Press received August 15 by an unknown sender, Roemer verified as hers, and if they included a lock of her late son's hair.

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UPDATED Caller Claims to Be Burglar of Theresa Roemer's Closet, Sends Us a Bunch of Jewelry, Wisp of Hair

Categories: Crime

Photo by Jeff Balke
A caller with a voice modulator says these items came from Roemer's closet.
Update--August 16 11:40 a.m.: Detective Brent Akin of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office retrieved the package from the Houston Press Friday afternoon. Akin met us in a large conference room where the package was being held, and he asked us about the contents before donning gloves and placing the package in a brown evidence bag. He did not inspect the contents at our office. We'd been contacted by local and national media within minutes of the story going online, and a gaggle of news crews were in our offices by the time Akin arrived; they waited in a hallway and shot footage through the room's windows. Akin did not speak with reporters, but the Press gave several interviews after he left.

A person claiming to be the burglar who plundered socialite Theresa Roemer's closet has sent the Houston Press a cache of what appears to be costume jewelry -- including a locket with a lock of hair he claims was her dead son's.

The person initially called the Press August 12, and, speaking through a voice modulator, said he or she would be sending the items to prove that he is the person who burglarized her highly publicized, three-story closet August 2.

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