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Flores, Clark among county’s unsolved murders
Gloria Flores (from left), Sylvia Clark, The Lambecks, Pauline Diaz (bottom left), and Michael Barrera, are among the county's unsolved murders.
Wilson County NewsJuly 31, 2013 3,106 views 2 comments
Wilson County has a growing number of unsolved murders. Following the anniversary July 19 of two of these murders-- Gloria Flores and Sylvia Clark -- the district attorney’s office provided updates on a number of homicides.
The Texas Rangers’ investigation involving Flores’ murder has gone cold. Assistant District Attorney Audrey Louis of the 81st Judicial District said July 23, “The investigation has been suspended until new leads or information are provided.”
Flores, a widowed mother of four daughters, lived alone in her home near the corner of F.M. 1303 and C.R. 155 north of Floresville. The 66-year-old was found shot to death behind the house July 19, 1998, after her son-in-law, Dennis Kotara of Floresville, drove there to check on Flores after she did not answer the telephone.
Eleven years later, on July 19, 2009, Sylvia Perez Clark, 50, was beaten and strangled in her home on Twin Oaks Drive near La Vernia. According to an affidavit, Clark was pronounced dead after her husband, Gary, called 911, reporting that he had returned from San Antonio and found his wife’s lifeless body in a hallway.
Louis said the Rangers’ investigation into Clark’s death remains active, as officials continue to conduct interviews and analyze evidence.
Another active investigation -- by the Rangers and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office -- continues into the Sept. 20, 2012, shooting deaths of 56-year-old Steven Lambeck and his 50-year-old wife, Ramona, in the bedroom of their home on C.R. 401 near U.S. 87 just outside Stockdale. Steven’s son, Tyson, then 29, suffered a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. Officials said early in the investigation that there were no signs of forced entry to the home.
“[Investigators] have interviewed everyone associated with the Lambecks that they believe had any information,” Louis said.
The district attorney’s office could not release further information about the ongoing investigation into the Lambecks’ murders.
Another investigation, which started out as a search for a missing person, has evolved into a homicide investigation. Louis said that while no one has located the body of Pauline Cantu Diaz -- who last was seen Dec. 7, 2010 -- “the case is being investigated as a murder.”
Diaz, then 63, failed to return to her home on the far southeast side of San Antonio following the completion of her shift at the H-E-B supermarket near the intersection of Goliad Road and Southeast Military Drive in San Antonio. Her white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck was found two days later, parked near the intersection of U.S. 181 and C.R. 320 in Wilson County --approximately 4 miles from a home she previously shared with her estranged husband, Pedro Ruiz.
In addition to the more recent homicide cases that have been in the news, officials also have yet to solve the 1988 murder of Michael “Elvis” Barrera, who was shot to death at age 19. He was reported missing Dec. 27, 1988, after failing to return home to Floresville from a dance at the Poth VFW Hall. Barrera’s body was found Feb. 20, 1989, in a pasture adjacent to the Poth City Park and a slaughterhouse.
The case had gone cold, but new interest in the case in 2006 caused then-Poth police Chief Lambert Jendrzey to request that the Rangers reopen the case. Arturo Galindo of San Antonio was arrested and charged with Barrera’s murder. But just before the case went to trial in 2010, District Attorney René Peña of the 81st Judicial District said witnesses recanted their statements. On June 30, 2010, Galindo became a free man after a judge dismissed the case without prejudice, after the prosecution determined there was insufficient evidence to convict him. The same charges could, however, be filed against Galindo, should new or additional information be found.
William Harvey Taylor
Also deemed a cold case murder investigation -- perhaps Wilson County’s oldest -- is that of the Feb. 12, 1966, murder of William Harvey Taylor in his bedroom in the home where he lived alone on S.H. 97 just east of Floresville. Taylor, 60, was bludgeoned to death with an ax before his killer wrapped his battered body in a blanket and stuffed it into a wood-burning stove, in what investigators believe was an attempt to set the body ablaze. Only the portion of the blanket inside the stove caught fire, however.
Waiting for justice
Whether it is a murder that occurred 47 years ago, or just last year, Peña said arrests cannot be made until there is sufficient evidence to warrant submitting a case to a grand jury. He understands how difficult it can be for family and friends of murder victims to endure the sometimes long wait for justice, and said it is important for those investigating such crimes to be thorough.
“We have to explain the reality to them that we understand they’ve been victimized; it’s hard and they want a final resolution,” Peña said. “But at the end of the day, this office makes decisions on the facts that are before them. The process also requires us to be fair to the defendant.”
Peña reminds the public that his office does not conduct the actual investigation, which is the job of law-enforcement agencies, such as police departments, sheriff’s offices, and the Rangers. None of them can succeed without help from the public, which is why anyone with information about these cases is urged to call the district attorney’s office at 830-393-2200.
Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of Wilson County at 830-393-INFO (4636) or http://bit.ly/NDrIut.
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