You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Community to remember slain sheriff’s deputy
WILLIAM J. GIBBS JR./
Reprints at wilsoncountynews.com
During a Sept. 19 visit to the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office in Floresville, Tracy Childress, granddaughter of slain Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ollie F. “Sammy” Childress Jr., reviews newspaper clippings from the days that followed her grandfather’s Nov. 4, 1983, murder.
On Nov. 4, the community will come together to honor Deputy Ollie F. “Sammy” Childress Jr. of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, who gave the ultimate sacrifice on Nov. 4, 1983.
The sheriff’s office will mark the 30th anniversary of Childress’ murder in the line of duty with a memorial service set for 10 a.m. -- rain or shine -- at the Wilson County Criminal Justice Center in Floresville, which will include full honors and the retirement of his badge, No. 8326. Scheduled to speak at the event are dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, and State Rep. John Kuempel.
Among those organizing the event is Tracy Childress, the deputy’s granddaughter, who was just 5 years old when the man she knew as “PawPaw Sammy” was shot to death execution-style in the trunk of his patrol car.
“I don’t have very many memories of him at all,” Tracy said. “The only memory I really have of him is in the casket. I can tell you what it looked like.”
The tragedy changed everyone in Tracy’s tightly knit family, she said. She, a once-brave child, suddenly became fearful of the dark and Tracy said she remembers being unable to sleep alone in her bedroom.
But for Tracy, whose father, uncle, and grandfather all worked in law enforcement, it became apparent growing up that she would one day do likewise. For 15 years, she has been employed by the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office, where she serves as a 911 dispatcher and trainer.
“My first thing is that I’m going to prevent everyone else from losing their grandpa,” Tracy said.
According to a Nov. 6, 1983, article in the San Antonio Express-News, three-year veteran Sammy Childress, 54, began his shift on that fateful day and left the sheriff’s office to begin patrol at 10:35 a.m. As he drove on S.H. 97 near Marcelina, the deputy alerted dispatch via radio that he spotted what appeared to be a disabled vehicle. It would be his last radio transmission.
Childress was overpowered by two men -- Leroy Vargas Sosa, then 17, and his uncle, then 31-year-old Pedro Solis Sosa. The men pointed a gun at the deputy, who was stripped of his uniform shirt, badge, hat, keys, and service weapon before he was handcuffed and placed into the trunk of his patrol car.
The Sosas drove to the State Bank of La Vernia on U.S. 87, where they arrived at about noon and subsequently robbed the bank of $51,038. Leroy Sosa, in his confession, said that his uncle was wearing Childress’ uniform shirt and badge, telling bank workers of the deputy’s location in the trunk and that “if anyone follows me, I’ll shoot into the back seat and kill the deputy.”
The Express-News article said that bank Vice President Wanda Von Minden reported that Pedro Sosa, who donned Childress’ uniform shirt and a red ski mask, pointed the barrel of his pistol against her abdomen and said, “I’m going to blow your brains out.”
She also reported that Pedro Sosa told her, “Lady, I’m the sheriff now.”
The men had bank employees stuff the money in a paper grocery bag. Before leaving, the two herded seven employees and four customers into Von Minden’s office and ordered them to lie on the floor and not move for 20 minutes, with one of them threatening to return to check on them.
The Sosas fled the bank and drove to a spot on Steinben Road 2 miles from the bank, according to the article. Leroy Sosa’s confession indicates that the two parked the vehicle and that his uncle opened the trunk and shot Childress in the neck at close range with the deputy’s .44-caliber revolver, before they fled in their own vehicle.
The men returned a short time later to wipe away fingerprints. Realizing Childress still was alive, Pedro Sosa reportedly shot him a second time in the neck because the deputy had seen his face. They then threw Childress’ weapon and their own gun into a creek before fleeing to San Antonio.
Pedro Sosa was arrested during a traffic stop on I-35 in San Antonio on Feb. 4, 1984. He was found guilty of capital murder in a trial in Atascosa County and sentenced to death Jan. 7, 1985. According to Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) records, the now 61-year-old currently is housed in the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in Livingston.
Since his sentence, Pedro Sosa has entered four appeals, the most recent in 2006.
Tracy Childress said she had heard that a judge commuted Pedro Sosa’s sentence 1-1/2 years ago and gave him life in prison. Deann Belicek of the 81st Judicial District Court Coordinator’s Office in Pleasanton confirmed Oct. 24 that this was not true, and that the death sentence remained intact.
Back in 2007, Pedro Sosa’s attorneys filed a motion that the sentence be overturned, based on the 2002 Atkins v. Virginia ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 that executions of people deemed mentally retarded was cruel and unusual punishment.
At a 2008 habeas corpus hearing, the brief filed indicates that Pedro Sosa allegedly “was physically incapable of any role other than a follower.”
Belicek said reviews of the matter have been ongoing ever since, and that it will be early 2014 before another hearing will be held.
According to Pedro Sosa’s profile on WriteAPrisoner.com, the convicted murderer maintains his innocence, claiming he was at work 100 miles away. The profile also indicates that he asks for donations and that he is willing to correspond about the case with any interested party.
The Wilson County News submitted a request to correspond with Pedro Sosa about the events on the day of Childress’ killing. An automatic response indicated that messages are checked twice monthly, with the next date being Nov. 4.
Leroy Sosa, who testified against his uncle, was convicted of aggravated robbery, murder, and kidnapping Sept. 20, 1985. According to TDCJ records, he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the murder. He currently is being held in the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville.
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office
will pay tribute to the memory of
Deputy Ollie: “Sammy” Childress Jr.,
Badge No. 8326
Monday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m.
Wilson County Justice Center,
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Section A: General News Archives
Appraisal district board votes to resume construction (April 27, 2016)
Baylor University awards Cody Soto (April 27, 2016)
Behind the lens: Swan lake (April 27, 2016)
Budget Blinds of La Vernia receives national award (April 27, 2016)
Celebrate hospital’s Grand Opening (April 27, 2016)
Children’s Alliance plans ribbon-cutting (April 27, 2016)
County judge breaks tie vote (April 27, 2016)
Court Update (April 27, 2016)
Cowboy Fellowship celebrates 13 years in Jourdanton (April 27, 2016)
Earth Day plant sale April 30 (April 27, 2016)
Editorial: It’s time to get out and vote for the best for our city (April 27, 2016)
Editorial: Quit whining and play by the party rules (April 27, 2016)
Emergency-services area may expand to cover City View (April 27, 2016)
Floresville chamber is on the move (April 27, 2016)
Floresville Event Center’s no-BYOB policy here to stay (April 27, 2016)
Floresville man honored with service award (April 27, 2016)
Free ‘Shred Day’ in San Antonio (April 27, 2016)
Get outside and connect with nature (April 27, 2016)
Help CASA during the Big Give (April 27, 2016)
Hospital receives audit report, notes record month (April 27, 2016)
La Vernia EMS: Four decades of care (April 27, 2016)
Learn about hosting a foreign exchange student (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Anyone listening? (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Clarity around FEDC contributions (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Unreliable weather forecasts (April 27, 2016)
Life Line Screening available (April 27, 2016)
Loan converts to a scholarship (April 27, 2016)
Master Gardener orientation (April 27, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Falls City ISD (April 27, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Floresville Planning & Zoning Commission (April 27, 2016)
Parks plan is still ‘wish list’ (April 27, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 27, 2016)
Ramirez promoted to Colonel (April 27, 2016)
Scammers target CPS Energy customers (April 27, 2016)
Support children through Big Give (April 27, 2016)
ACTS skeet shoot May 7 in Marion (April 20, 2016)
Annexation for La Vernia EMS? (April 20, 2016)
Brahma Happenings: Jackson’s Journey, HOPE fund-raisers, more (April 20, 2016)
Challenger Water Solutions set to close deal in Stockdale (April 20, 2016)
Coach to take on athletics for his alma mater (April 20, 2016)
Community Resource Fair (April 20, 2016)
Crisis Center plans fund-raising events (April 20, 2016)
District 3 considers substation in Sutherland Springs (April 20, 2016)
Early voting begins on Tuesday in (another) election (April 20, 2016)
Editorial: The ‘voice of the people’ fallacy (April 20, 2016)
Elmendorf wades into developing its own municipal water system (April 20, 2016)
Emergency service, via helicopter (April 20, 2016)
Entertainment lineup for the Jubilee (April 20, 2016)
FEDC OKs July 3 ‘Freedom Fest’ (April 20, 2016)
Floresville parks plan: an analysis (April 20, 2016)
Hail pounds ‘like a thousand hammers' (April 20, 2016)
Housing seminar set (April 20, 2016)
La Vernia: New home for Wilson County’s performing arts? (April 20, 2016)
Letter: A word of caution to advertisers (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Eating sustainably (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Obama’s executive ‘lawlessness’ rears its ugly head (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Wilson County lacks animal control (April 20, 2016)
Meet the Floresville candidates, ask questions April 21! (April 20, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (April 20, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Stockdale ISD (April 20, 2016)
Missions to include Floresville’s Rancho (April 20, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 20, 2016)
Poth VFW Post 8555 honors students, teachers, guests (April 20, 2016)
Small-business training webinars (April 20, 2016)
Special meeting April 21 for Floresville parks master plan (April 20, 2016)
Talk about boundaries (April 20, 2016)
Walk to end child abuse (April 20, 2016)
Wilson County’s unemployment rises (April 20, 2016)
Yanta: Prosper the work of our hands (April 20, 2016)
Apply now for Baptist Health Foundation community grants (April 13, 2016)
Authorities arrest cattle rustler (April 13, 2016)
Behind the lens: Screams, spins, speed (April 13, 2016)
Christian counseling comes to Wilson County (April 13, 2016)
Doctor will close Floresville office (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: Before you reject the system, understand it (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: Football great Will Smith and mental illness in America (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: White House needs a mature president — not ‘The Donald’ (April 13, 2016)
Federal funding for community projects (April 13, 2016)
Free senior exercise classes at OKMH (April 13, 2016)
Kicaster Cemetery meeting April 21 (April 13, 2016)
La Vernia UMC to hold blood drive (April 13, 2016)
Letter: Extra effort (April 13, 2016)
Letter: The importance of no Supreme Court hearing (April 13, 2016)
Mayor recaps infrastructure projects (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: China Grove City Council (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (April 13, 2016)
National Lineman Appreciation Day (April 13, 2016)
Pair face felony charges for graffiti on Enchanted Rock (April 13, 2016)
Pair lead police on high-speed chase (April 13, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 13, 2016)
Poth cemetery plans cleanup (April 13, 2016)
Pray to end child abuse on April 24 (April 13, 2016)
Rainbow Play Systems recalls trapeze rings (April 13, 2016)
Registration for Alzheimer’s, dementia care training is open (April 13, 2016)
Save the date for Bike Rodeo, Bike-A-Thon (April 13, 2016)
Scammers hijack smartphones in new ransomware scam (April 13, 2016)
Selling sentimental stuff (April 13, 2016)
Start Smart your business April 28 (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale city limits expand (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale library seeks donations (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale officials approve open carry gun ordinance (April 13, 2016)
Truck strikes man on highway (April 13, 2016)
Vets service offers online links (April 13, 2016)
Workshop energizes teachers to educate about energy (April 13, 2016)
Adventure Run set for April 16 (April 6, 2016)
Authorities search for cattle rustler (April 6, 2016)
Behind the lens: Riveting reptile (April 6, 2016)
Donate blood April 8 (April 6, 2016)
DWI crackdown targets Poteet area for weekend (April 6, 2016)
Editorial: Political parties display hypocrisy over Supreme Court nominee (April 6, 2016)
Editorial: We are window-shopping for the next president (April 6, 2016)
Falls City Council seeks partner for sewer upgrades (April 6, 2016)
FELPS addresses cost price hike as fuel costs decline (April 6, 2016)
FELPS payment scam victimizes restaurant owner (April 6, 2016)
FISD plans Wellness Fair and 5K (April 6, 2016)
Floresville plans community Independence Day celebration (April 6, 2016)
Injury accident (April 6, 2016)
Just be honest (April 6, 2016)
Learning opportunity for teachers June 6-9 (April 6, 2016)
Letter: La Vernia ideal home for YMCA (April 6, 2016)
Letter: Leave political correctness out of Jaguar name (April 6, 2016)
Letter: We are the stooges (April 6, 2016)
Little League Night in Floresville (April 6, 2016)
LV Greater Chamber plans April 6 meeting (April 6, 2016)
One-Act Play shines at District (April 6, 2016)
Online control system detects faulty switch, saves FELPS $750K (April 6, 2016)
Opry Jam Night April 7 (April 6, 2016)
Participate in Candidates’ Forum (April 6, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 6, 2016)
State test glitches heighten exam anxiety for students (April 6, 2016)
Sutherland Springs woman: Snakes alive! (April 6, 2016)