Lost boater found
Searchers recover body of Cross Roads High School
senior at Richland Chambers
Special to The Monitor
Aaron Reed, Texas Parks and Wildlife
NAVARRO COUNTY– After a week-long search of waters near the U.S. Highway
287 bridge on Richland Chambers Reservoir, Texas game wardens and
officers from the Tarrant Regional Water District recovered the body of
17-year-old Jerrod Rachel at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday.
Rachel, a senior at Cross Roads High School, in Malakoff, and his
grandfather, Jerry King, 72, of Athens, were reported missing March 24.
Divers from the Texas Department of Public Safety recovered King’s body
King’s pontoon boat was found lodged in standing timber near Hickey
Island north of the U.S. Hwy 287 bridge on the 41,000-acre lake in
A fisherman at Oak Cove Marina reported seeing King’s pontoon boat drift
past the afternoon of March 24 but initially thought the occupants were
just out of sight.
The boat’s global positioning system indicated that it began drifting
approximately one-half mile south of the bridge.
Game wardens reconstructed the boat’s track across the lake using the
GPS and focused search efforts along a broad swath of water along that
Texas game wardens, the Tarrant Regional Water District, the Henderson
County Sheriff’s Office, the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office and the
Texas Department of Public Safety all participated in the search.
Honoring a heart of compassion
Citizens rally in tribute to Ron Shields – a child’s
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
HENDERSON COUNTY–A man motivated to preserve the future by looking out
for the abused children of Henderson County is winding down his career.
He has built a legacy in the form of the hundreds of police officers
he’s taught and children’s lives he’s saved that bodes well for the
future of Henderson County and Texas that will extend far into the
His name is Ron Shields.
Ron Shields with his grand-daughter. Shields believes children are the
“most important commodity the United States of America has.”
Many know him as their mentor, teacher and a “cop’s cop.” Others know
him as their defender and hero.
Currently the police chief in Brownsboro, Shields teaches police
officers at the East Texas Police Academy in Athens and has served the
county for more than 20 years.
He is best known for his 10 years of investigative work on child abuse
and sexual assault cases.
A gathering of Henderson County citizens is set for 2 p.m. Sunday
(today) at the Cain Center to honor Shields and to shower him with
gratitude and respect.
The 81st Texas Legislature approved a resolution commending Ron Shields
for “exemplifying the highest ideals of the law enforcement profession”
and for his service in adding to the safety and well-being of his fellow
The resolution was presented by Rep. Betty Brown.
“I am privileged to honor Chief Shields,” Brown said. “His contributions
to our country and our community are immeasurable, and I want him to
know how much his service is appreciated.”
Coworkers describe him as one of the finest men they’ve ever known.
Courtesy photo/Athens Review/Aaron
Ron Shields (left), Brian Nutt, Justice of the Peace Milton Adams and
Ray Nutt (right) at the home of slain Athens attorney John Key Jr.
published Nov. 27, 1995.
“His greatest contribution is his dedication to the kids of this
county,” former sheriff’s deputy Wayne Carrell said. “He gave it his
all. I can’t say enough good things about Ron. It was a privilege to
work with him.”
Carrell and Shields patrolled the east side of the county as sheriff’s
deputies until 1999, when Carrell retired from law enforcement.
“He’s a great guy, like a brother to me,” he said. Now, Carrell manages
the county fairgrounds. “I always knew I could depend on him. We’ve
backed each other up in numerous occasions, especially on domestic
violence calls,” Carrell said.
Before Shields joined the Sheriff’s Office, he was a successful
businessman, operating Shields TeleCom in Athens for eight years. But
when personal tragedy hit at the same time rapid changes in the
telecommunications industry began, Shields changed course and found his
“Slick” Alfred (left) congratulates Ron Shields for one of the many
commendations he received over his 20-year career with the Henderson
County Sheriff’s Department.
His close associate at the time, Wayne Pitts, oversaw reserve police
officers, and talked Shields into giving law enforcement a try. Shields
soon learned that he loved the work.
His true calling
All of his intellect, drive and passion were employed in getting as much
training as he could to become as effective as he could as a sheriff’s
“I helped train him and taught him a great deal,” Sheriff Ray Nutt told
The Monitor. “But the truth of it was, I was learning from Ron, too,” he
As a rookie, Shields got to cut his investigative teeth on a famous
capital murder case in Cherokee Shores, which took two years to solve.
Betty Beets, who had staged her fifth husband’s death as a lake
accident, was finally brought to trial and convicted for the murder of
Jimmy Don Beets, whose body was discovered buried under an ornamental
well in his front yard.
The body of a second man, identified as Doyle Wayne Barker, Betty Beets’
fourth husband, was also found under a shed on the property.
Betty Beets was executed after world publicity of her sentencing and 16
years after J.D. Beets was reported missing in August, 1983.
Shields served the county as an investigator for 14 years, leading the
investigations of 40 homicides, clearing all but one by arrest.
Nutt recalls a homicide case he and Shields worked on, while Nutt was a
Texas Ranger. Shields’ investigative skill developed a usable
fingerprint that led investigators to the abductor of a young, pregnant
military wife, Melissa Dawn Dixon.
“Ron had the training, skill and patience to find that latent print on
one of the window screens,” Nutt said.
“It belonged to the suspect, and we were able to get him. The fact that
Ron was talented enough and trained to develop that print speaks volumes
about his professionalism,” Nutt said.
“That was one of the bigger cases Ron worked,” Chief Deputy Dan Parker
told The Monitor. Parker was a patrol sergeant then and remembers
receiving the missing person’s report.
“But it didn’t matter if it was a major case or mail stolen from a
mailbox, he brought the same attention to each one,” Parker said.
For 10 years, Shields served as a full-time investigator of physical and
sexual abuse of children, resulting in an average of 50 arrests per
It takes a special dedication and professionalism to investigate such
heart-rending situations day in and day out, year in and year out.
Shields is said to have been the “front line in the capture and
prosecution of criminal child abusers.”
In a 1995 interview with the Athens Review, Shields shared where his
commitment to these types of cases came from. “In my opinion, children
are really the most important commodity the United States of America
has,” he said. He regards them as the nation’s future and his mission to
The Monitor file photo
Members of the police academy salute the colors during the annual police
officer memorial held in Athens June, 2008.
“There’s a whole different psychology at work interviewing children
and parents,” co-investigator Gary Kirkwood said in the same 1995
“Ron excels with the kids. He obviously cares about them and knows how
to get them to open up,” he said.
Shields described that psychology as a “combination of training and
being a grandfather.”
In the article he said, the training includes more than 400 hours of
course work, specifically related to these types of cases. He also
credited Sheriff Howard “Slick” Alfred for his support of training and
One of the saddest facts in cases of abuse and neglect is that those who
are raised in an atmosphere of violence accept abuse as normal, Shields
said. And families don’t want to talk about it.
When asked how he gets through the emotional toll, investigating such
cases, Shields responded, “I’ve got a very supportive family that helps
me deal with it.”
“His wife, Lois, deserves a medal for all she’s put up with due to his
dedication to the force and teaching at the academy,” Parker said. “They
have a great relationship.”
Lois may not have gotten a medal but she remembers a well-worded letter
from the Sheriff which read: “Behind all good men, there is an excellent
“I let those words warm my heart for months and months,” she told The
Lois Shields has been married to Ron for 45 years, come August.
Though she doesn’t know any names, she says there are countless young
women who have come up to her while she’s shopping to hug her and thank
her for all Ron has done for them.
“He’s made such a big difference in their lives,” she said.
Beth Renberg heartily agrees. She was one of Ron Shields’ students, who
now works for the Child Advocacy Center.
“It wouldn’t have been the same county had he not done everything he
did,” she said.
The East Texas Crisis Center (ETCC) awarded Shields the 2008 Hope Award
for the impact his work has had on victims of domestic violence. Shields
has worked closely with the center over the past eight years.
“The award was a longtime in coming,” Center director Donna Johnson
“He has been a huge asset to me in my role as a legal advocate,” she
The ETCC trains law enforcement in the dynamics of domestic violence and
conducts First Responder training about three times a year, she said.
“Law enforcement is all heart and soul. If you don’t have that, don’t
waste your time,” Shields says to his police academy cadets. “He’s very
direct and pulls no punches,” former student Teresa Ogburn told The
“He’s what every cop wants to be. We want to be Ron Shields when we grow
up,” Ogburn said.
Shields began teaching at the academy in 1999 and had seven students.
Since then, hundreds of law enforcement officers have gone through his
eight-month instructional programs for basic, intermediate and advanced
training. Today, an average of 30 students enroll for each of two
sessions he teaches annually.
“I was afraid going into law enforcement because of its tendency to be
cold and callous,” former student Jim McKee told The Monitor.
“But Ron Shields demonstrates a man of heart. His example gives me
permission to be myself, just as he does,” McKee said.
Shields punctuates his instruction with memorable one-liners that guide
his active duty officers in what to do and how to stay safe.
In addition, he refers his students to the Law Enforcement Code of
Ethics, a copy of which he carries with him daily and teaches his
students to do the same.
“When I go to work, it’s like I have a little Ron Shields on my shoulder
telling me what to do,” Ogburn, a Kaufman County deputy, said. “It’s
because of the way he teaches and lives – and the words he uses. We just
soak it up like a sponge.”
Man shot after violating
Special to The Monitor
ATHENS–Henderson County deputies Ray Yockey and Cliff Arnold responded
to a shooting call off County Road 3508 in the Murchison area Wednesday.
They found Eric John Hatton, a white male, 31, inside a residence with a
single gunshot wound to his leg.
Eric Hatton was at the location, in violation of a protective order
signed by Judge David Holstein July, 2008.
Investigator Bryan Tower determined Hatton was shot by his father,
Freddie Hatton, 74, after a disturbance at the residence.
Deputies recovered a .44 magnum handgun used in the offense.
Eric Hatton was transported to ETMC Athens and is reported in stable
No arrests were made and an investigation is ongoing, according to a
department news release issued by Sheriff Ray Nutt.
He also reported two arrests in Brownsboro following an attempted
Tuesday, special deputy John Daniels arrested Johnnie King at his Horton
Street residence when he pulled in to the driveway.
King allegedly evaded Daniels’ attempts to pull him over earlier. He was
placed under arrest for evading arrest detention.
After the vehicle was searched and a quantity of methamphetamine found,
an additional charge was filed for possession of controlled substance
under one gram.
Both charges are state jail felonies. King posted $10,500 bond and was
released the same day.
Also, Colby Wall, 30, was arrested inside the King residence on two
probation violation warrants out of Anderson County. He is currently in
jail on these warrants.