Unsolved murders span 21 years
The coldest case in Orange County since 1988 is that of Ray Hodgkinson, 31 when he went missing in September. His body has never been found, which makes it difficult for investigators. But there’s always hope for unsolved cases, says Orange County District Attorney Kimbrough, recalling the 32-year-old case of Ronnie Herman, shot in 1977.
“We were able to indict [two brothers] on a case that was decades old,” he says. [Donald Teal received 30 years and Thomas Teal, who confessed to the crime and led authorities to his brother, received 12 years. Drug money owed by Herman was the motive].
According to The Record archives, Hodgkinson left his mother’s residence in the 3800 block of Pinehurst on Sept. 11, 1988. He told his mother he was going out to eat and pick up a part for a grinder.
He never returned home. Foul play is suspected as he left his welding equipment laying out – not a normal practice. On Sept. 13, his black 1988 Dodge Dakota pickup was discovered abandoned with the keys, a camera, stereo player and military-style rifle missing.
“Cases are solvable as long as police maintain evidence,” Kimbrough says. “They’ve got to take the time to pull out the files every now and then, and be able to follow up on leads. The law enforcement community in Orange is really pretty good. There are unsolved homicides in big cities like Houston, and obviously criminals work very hard to cover their tracks.”
To report information on this case, call Pinehurst police at 886-3873, or Texas DPS at 1-800-346-3243.
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Archives show that on Sept. 8, 1995, deputies were dispatched to a trailer park at the corner of Texas 62 and Texas 87 in Bridge City. There, they found a trailer with a large amount of blood inside. As reported by The Record’s Chris Farkas in 1997, “Four days later, two fisherman found a human body part floating in the Sabine River near the Texas 12 bridge in Deweyville.” Subsequently, other parts were found later identified as the body of Theresa Foskey, 28. The cause of death was listed as “stabbing and possible blunt trauma.”
“That is a case that is still viable,” Kimbrough says. “A lot of work has been done on it over the years. When it gets solved, you’ll know it, but there are aspects about it we can’t discuss for obvious reasons. I think it has a very good chance of getting solved. The investigation has been painstaking, with a lot of people spending a good deal of time and resources on it.”
To report information, call the Orange County District Attorney’s office at 882-7706.
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Dannarriah Finley, a 4-year old student at North Early Learning Center, went missing before 10 a.m. July 4, 2002 – the time her mother Jaime Arnold called police. Orange police Chief Sam Kittrell and Orange Mayor Brown Claybar were among those who searched the city, and the Rev. C.W. Crawford helped setup a “headquarters” at Mount Zion Church, archives showed. Local businesses and social agencies such as the American Red Cross provided what funds they could. Dannarriah’s family has since relocated.
“In a lot of cases, the first 48 hours are the most important,” Kimbrough says. “And here, the initial investigating was extremely good and painstaking. If you screw up the initial investigation, you can’t go back. And its so easy to read through the files and say, ‘Oh, they should have done ‘this and this and this.’ But that’s not the case here. When it comes to scientific evidence, these cases are never over. Years ago when we first started dealing with DNA, the science was just so primitive. It was like Model T’s compared to today. But technology continues to improve and we’re seeing it each year.”
Anyone with information may call the Port Arthur police at 983-8631, Orange police at 883-1095 or FBI at 832-8571. The case is still listed on the Orange police Web site, www.orangepd.com (click on “Investigations”), as it has been since the case began. [Also listed is the cold case of Beverly McBride of Beaumont, whose body was found in Orange by a utility crew on Sept. 1, 2007. McBride was reported missing Aug. 13, 2007. To report information, call Beaumont Crime Stoppers at 833-TIPS].
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The body of Bridgette Gearen, a 28-year-old single mother from Orange, was found on Crystal Beach near Monkhouse Road on July 15, 2007. She had been raped and murdered, archives showed.
Last year lead investigator Lt. Tommy Hansen told the Galveston County Daily News that much about the crime is still murky. Was she lured into a small SUV or forced; and where did the attack happen?
Hansen was on vacation as The Record’s anniversary issue went to press, and not available for comment. Hansen told the paper it was the most brutal killing he had seen in 34 years of law enforcement.
To report information, leave a message at (409) 766-2358, or call 766-2333 to speak with an investigator immediately.