Sunday, December 2, 2007






  Arrest made in missing Mabank woman case
By Donna Limberger
Monitor Staff Writer

CANTON–The Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office Johnson charged and arrested Walter Burris, 43, of Mabank for murder in connection with the disappearance of a Mabank woman.
Diane Hopson, 62, has been missing from her residence on VZCR 2815 since Nov. 20.
“My office has done an extensive investigation since Mrs. Hopson was reported missing. We obtained evidence that Burris was believed to be the last person to see her alive,” Van Zandt County Sheriff R.P. “Pat” Burnett told The Monitor late Thursday.
Additional information identified a vehicle matching the description of Burris’s truck as being seen at Hopson’s home.
“There was blood evidence in the vehicle,” Burnett said.
Hopson’s daughter called the Sheriff’s Office on the morning of Nov. 20 to report her missing. The sheriff’s office placed her on the missing endangered list, and as the investigation continued authorities suspected foul play.
A warrant was issued for the vehicle, and Smith County Crime Scene Investigators Noel Martin and Ira Earls took forensic samplings Wednesday. The lab reported its results the next day.
“Based on these tests, we were able to obtain a warrant for Burris and charge him with murder,” Burnett said.
From the beginning, sheriff’s investigators have treated Hopson’s home as a crime scene.
“This investigation will continue. We are still looking for Mrs. Hopson’s body and we will continue to look for additional information,” Burnett said.
“I have contacted the family and my thoughts and prayers are with them. They have no closure at this time,” he added.
Burnett thanked Texas Ranger Kenny Ray, the Smith County Crime Scene Unit and Van Zandt County investigators for their diligence in the case.
“They have worked back-to-back lengthy investigations, and I am proud of the work they have done,” Burnett said.
Anyone with additional information regarding this crime, is asked to call the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 567-4133, Van Zandt County Crimestoppers at (903) 567-STOP (7867) or the Texas Rangers.

Again, MHS makes Texas Monthly’s best list
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Once again, Mabank High School has been listed in Texas Monthly’s list of best public schools.
This year’s listing includes 859 elementary, middle and high schools. Mabank High School is the only Cedar Creek Lake area school to make the list.
It is among 136 high schools listed for student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).
Last year, the publication ranked MHS 15th on a list of 75 best Texas high schools. There are about 1,700 high schools in the state.
This year, the numbers were analyzed a little differently. The top 5 percent of public schools are automatically listed. Elementary, middle and high schools listed demonstrated academic growth on the TAKS test higher than predicted, based on their previous test scores.
High schools were also delineated according to high performance by subject – reading/language arts, math social studies and science.
Mabank achieved high performance in reading/language arts.
Just 17 Texas high schools were ranked as high-performing in all four subjects. Some of those were the School for the Talented and Gifted and the School of Science and Engineering, both in Dallas; Pearce in Richardson and Memorial and Stratford, both in Spring Branch.
The bulk of the high schools listed excelled in just one subject.
“We are so proud of the efforts of our employees and children who continue to show how successful the students at MISD are,” Superintendent Dr. Russell Marshall told The Monitor.
MHS Principal Dr. Tommy Wallis was not surprised by the news, but was honored just the same.
Due to illness, Wallis couldn’t say more about it, except that he has high expectations for the future.
“Our teachers are just awesome,” Dena Mojica, MISD’s director of curriculum and instruction, said. “And, we have the best principal in the state.”

Blue Santa toy drop planned
Monitor Staff Reports
SEVEN POINTS–The Seven Points Police Department is holding its Blue Santa Toy Drop from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every night this week at city hall.
Santa will be on hand to visit with the kids and Stagecoach Karaoke will be providing music and entertainment.
“Bring by an unwrapped gift of toys, clothes and personal care products to city hall, and be a blessing to your neighbors who are less fortunate,” Judge Monica Corker said. “You’ll be glad you did.”
The last night for the toy drop is Monday, Dec. 10.
The first deliveries to needy families begin Saturday, Dec. 15.