2002 triple murder still considered worst in SETX history
Stevenson’s crime spree began in the early morning hours on Jan. 28, 2002. He shot and killed his girlfriend, Mirian McElroy, 51, of Orange. Stevenson then set fire to the trailer house he shared with her at 2700 Barbara Street. Stevenson then stole a vehicle and started making his way to Newton County where he would continue his murderous crimes of more shootings which lead to more deaths.
During the drive, about 40 miles away he lost control of the vehicle and became stuck in a ditch on Holmes Road which is in the Call Community.
Stevenson broke into the residence owned by Charles White, 68, who was there with his wife, and fired four shots into an empty bedroom. He has entered the house through the unlocked front door carrying a .357 revolver.
White told reporters, Stevenson was carrying a Bible and a copy of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.”
At one point, Stevenson reportedly said: “I’m one of those people. I’m one of those people.”
White gave Stevenson the keys to his wife’s Cadillac.
Stevenson went to the rear of the house and got into the vehicle while White got his gun and went out the back door too. White told him to get out of the car, but instead Stevenson opened fire. White managed to return one shot. Stevenson dove behind the vehicle and fired off another round at White. Stevenson was fleeing into the heavy, dense fog, drizzle and darkness as White fired one final round.
Stevenson’s spree continued by shooting his next victims at the nearby residence of Gary and Gwen Pearson,
Stevenson found 33-yer-old Gwen Pearson, along with her three children in their residence watching TV while sitting on the couch. It is unknown whether the family had fallen asleep while watching TV, according to reports from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Stevenson opened fire on the family striking Gwen Pearson in her hand and abdomen. Five-year-old Kaitlyn, was struck in the upper chest while two other children, 14-year-old Ashley and 10-year-old April were both struck by bullet fire. Investigators believe the 14-year-old girl may have tried to climb the stairs to wake her father, who was asleep upstairs, according to archives.
The 10-year-old daughter, April, died at the scene. Gwen Pearson and her other two daughters were transported to a Jasper Hospital. On the way to the hospital, Ashley died as well. Kaitlyn was in good condition while her mother was in critical condition.
Stevenson fled in the Pearson’s Chevrolet Tahoe when he once again lost control and came to rest in a ditch landing at the base of a phone pole on County Road 3099. Once Stevenson realized the vehicle was indeed stuck, he fled on foot, according to archives.
Investigators from area agencies worked to find Stevenson. Dense fog is said to have hindered the search for Stevenson. Searchers aboard helicopters, horses, four-wheelers and on foot combed a densely wooded area along the Newton County-Jasper County line in what authorities called one of the largest manhunts ever in East Texas.
A dog on loan from the Port Arthur Police Department picked up Stevenson’s scent the following afternoon and tracked him down to a wooded area about 3/4 of a mile away from the Pearson residence.
Authorities said Stevenson, who was apprehended without a struggle, did not appear injured except for scratches from running through brush.
He was later arraigned at the Newton County Fillyaw Correctional Center on aggravated robbery charges and his bond was set at $500,000. Stevenson was later charged with murder.
Stevenson was arraigned at the privately run jail instead of the county courthouse because some local residents were upset and they were “wanting to take him into their custody.”
Newton County Justice of the Peace A.J. Satterwhite said Stevenson appeared dazed after he was in custody.
Orange County officials said they had dealt with Stevenson before the murder spree. In 1996, a mental commitment was filed on Stevenson. Investigators said when a mental commitment is issued, they are usually requested by family members.
Perry Anthony Stevenson, now 53, began his murderous spree in January 2002 by killing his live-in girlfriend, Mirian McElroy, 51 and then trying to set fire to the trailer house before heading to Newton County to continue his crimes.