On October 26, 2023, the Texas Public Safety Commission (PSC) recognized the extraordinary efforts of a dedicated team of law enforcement professionals with the presentation of a Unit Citation Award. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw conferred the awards to these deserving individuals during the ceremony.
The Unit Citation was awarded to the outstanding work done by Criminal Investigations Area 1C4, operating in East Texas. The commendation arose from a horrifying incident that transpired on the morning of October 9, 2020, in New Boston, Texas. On that day, a female was found brutally murdered in her home. Tragically, the victim was 35 weeks pregnant, and the heinous crime took an even more chilling turn when it was discovered that her unborn baby had been forcibly removed from her womb while she was still alive and conscious.
The New Boston Police Department immediately sought assistance from the DPS Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and the Texas Rangers to investigate this appalling crime. CID Lieutenant Andrew Venable led the response and swiftly coordinated with Texas Rangers Josh Mason and Chris Baggett to provide support in the investigation.
Their collective efforts led to the identification of a suspect, who had been involved in a traffic stop conducted by a Texas Highway Patrol (THP) Trooper on the same morning as the murder. The suspect was found with the newborn baby and claimed she had just given birth and was on her way to a hospital. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel transported the suspect and baby to a hospital in Oklahoma.
Working collaboratively across state lines, officers from the Idabel Oklahoma Police Department and Special Agents from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation were involved in detaining the suspect in Oklahoma. Texas DPS CID Special Agent Dustin Estes secured preservation orders for the suspect's and victim's social media accounts. Additionally, other CID and THP personnel canvassed the area to search for witnesses and evidence, while local officers and Ranger Mason traveled to Idabel, Oklahoma to interview the suspect. During the interview, the suspect confessed to being involved in the mother's murder.
The exemplary performance of DPS CID personnel extended to extensive work on social media accounts, phone records, and online searches. They discovered evidence of the suspect's research into how to fake a pregnancy, perform C-section deliveries, and care for a newborn infant. Moreover, GPS information proved that the suspect had conducted surveillance at teen pregnancy centers and women's clinics. The investigators also uncovered evidence of the suspect performing vehicle registration inquiries on potential victims.
As a result of this tremendous and painstaking work, the Bowie County District Attorney requested that DPS CID remain actively involved in the subsequent phases of the investigation, grand jury proceedings, court preparation, and additional endeavors.
In recognition of their exceptional collaboration, teamwork, and dedication, CID Lieutenant Andrew Venable, CID Special Agent Briscoe Davis, CID Special Agent Eric Estes, CID Special Agent Dustin Estes, CID Special Agent Chris Barker, CID Special Agent Ben Allison (retired), Texas Ranger Joshua Mason, Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, Bowie County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards, and District Attorney Investigator Lance Cline were awarded a Unit Citation.