Thursday, April 30, 2009







Man beaten and robbed
Three suspects in custody; every bone in man’s face broken
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–A 51-year-old Seven Points man, reportedly on his way home from a nightclub, was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road just after midnight, April 19.
Three men and one woman were arrested in connection with the aggravated robbery, which left the victim, Gary LaCour, in a Tyler hospital undergoing multiple surgeries to save his life and face.
Every bone in LaCour’s face was broken during the beating, Seven Points police chief Tim Meadows said.
“If he should die while undergoing surgery, the charge goes to capital murder,” Meadows added. “We’re being told he will most likely be blind, if he survives.”
LaCour survived a first surgery. A second was set for Tuesday but had to be postponed, because he wasn’t strong enough to undergo surgery again.
Following a short standoff, the last of the four suspects was taken into custody just outside of Prairieville Friday.
With a S.W.A.T. team standing by, along with deputies from Kaufman and Van Zandt counties, Charles Wayne Pyburn, 21, was removed from a residence on Van Zandt County Road 2702 around 5 a.m. and transported to the Henderson County Jail.
The arrest warrant was served at 4 a.m. The suspect was considered armed and dangerous, Meadows said. Pyburn’s girlfriend and a baby were in the house at the time, but were quickly moved out of harm’s way, Meadows added.
Others arrested are:
• Tina Baumgartner, 30, charged with failure to report a felony;
• Casey Smith, 27, of Athens, apprehended by the Athens Police Department; and
• Johnny Ray Kepley, 29, of Seven Points, taken into custody after giving his statement.
All four suspects, including Pyburn, were charged with aggravated robbery.
Though accounts of what happened are conflicting, it appears that LaCour left the Island Club on State Highway 274 at midnight when it closed.
He was driving a 2005 Ford F-150 truck. The suspects were driving a 1994 Ford F-350. Both made the turn onto Jess Hinton Road, Meadows reported.
Someone in the other truck reportedly threw a can of beer at LaCour. Both parties stopped their vehicles and an altercation ensued, Meadows reported.
According to LaCour, he was repeatedly struck by the three men.
Pyburn maintains he left the scene and returned later. He picked up LaCour’s truck, drove it 50 yards to a driveway on Jess Hinton and another 200 feet to a house, Meadows said.
LaCour was left unconscious in a roadside ditch. When he came to, he started walking toward his home – a mile away – where his wife found him lying in the yard hours later.
Residents of Jess Hinton Road reported hearing gunshots in the night, and LaCour stated Pyburn fired four shots at him, Meadows said.
Later, the LaCour’s truck was recovered from the intersection of Jess Hinton and Pritchett, stripped and severely damaged.

Dorothy Groom dies
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–A lady dear to the hearts of many in Mabank died April 26.
Dorothy Nelle Groom, 80, died of complications following a surgery in Tyler Sunday.
Her death comes a year after her step-son Leon Groom’s passing.
She and Estle Groom were married Dec. 7, 1985, after the death of Annie Groom. The couple have enjoyed one another’s company on many trips with family and friends.
To Estle’s sons, Terry, Leon and Roger, she filled the void left when their mother died without trying to replace her in their hearts. And they grew to love her very much.
Daughter-in-law Jan Groom, fondly recalls Dorothy’s hospitality and ways she warmed her grandchildren’s hearts toward her.
“She would always play with my son, saying ‘boo!’ That’s how she became the ‘boo-granny’ to Ryan (now 5),” Jan said. Jan also enjoyed working with her at the shoe store in Mabank on Third Street from 1986 to 1996. “She was very pleasant to be around,” she added.
Though indispensable as the family-gathering cook, presenting a large kettle of pintos, mouth-watering banana puddings, chocolate and coconut cream pies, she also was a strong support to the Prairieville Baptist Church.
She served as Sunday School secretary for 30 years, and sang in the choir up until she got sick a few years ago.
“She was always on hand when there was work to be done in the church kitchen,” Ailene Smith said. “She sure was a good cook. We’re going to miss her pies.”
Smith also noted that Dorothy worked for many years at Texas Instruments in Richardson.
Her hospitable ways were also noted by those who knew her well.
“Everyone loved her at the store. She was always so bubbly,” Groom & Sons’ Ace Hardware, Inc. executive secretary Julie Bonner said.
Her sister Gloria Autry said, “Not only was she my sister, but she was also my best friend.”
Bob Sapp, a friend of Dorothy’s since childhood, and who also became kin through marriage said, “Her gentleness and love for people shone through. She was always so very sincere in her love for others.
“She was a tremendous lady – always, every bit a lady,” he added.

High winds wallop Kemp Monday
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–A late April storm blew into Kemp just after 9 a.m. Monday, denting a few cars, knocking down trees, damaging some buildings and leaving scattered power outages around the city.
The storm was part of a system that stretched from Kansas to Houston and brought heavy rains and raised a tornado warning in the Cedar Creek Lake area.
“It was decided that we had high winds with rotation. We know the clouds had some rotation,” Kemp Police Chief Richard Clemmo said.
“We think we had a lingering tail but nothing actually touched down,” he explained.
“The city crews, fire and police personnel worked together and clean-up was short,” Clemmo added.
Damage was located in skipped areas around the city. A tree fell across Fire Chief Brian Beavers official truck.
Windows were blown out of about a half dozen cars parked in front of the Kemp Independent School District Administration Building.
Homeowner Dwayne Aycock had a huge branch ripped from a tree in his front yard, leaving him without power.
Power was also knocked out at Kemp High School when a power pole was downed between the cafeteria and the ag shop.
Air conditioning units on tops of school buildings were damaged and the ceiling was sucked out of the band hall.
“There was debris and a real mess left behind but no instruments suffered any damage,” Jimmy Polk, band director said.
After an inspection by Superintendent Dr. Peter Running of the damage and downed power lines, the campus was closed.
High school students were sent home from school by mid-morning, interrupting the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing.
“We have rescheduled Social Studies (TAKS) for Friday,” Mary Van Cleve said.
“But things can always change,” she said as she stood in the darkened office listening to the excited students getting ready to leave.
Power was restored at approximately 4 p.m.
Damage accounts were also provided by Jerry Wigley.
Trees were knocked down, including one in front of the high school. There was damage to Barbara and Harvey McFaul’s home, across from the Intermediate gym on Elm Street, Wigley said.
Ronda Pennington contributed to this report.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Dwayne Aycock picks up some shingles from his roof, surveys the damage to
power lines, his huge ancient tree and his yard following Monday’s storm, as
his grandbaby looks on from the window.

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