2012 is winding down, and we're taking a look back at some of the biggest East Texas stories of the year.
Five different earth quakes hit one East Texas area this year. Timpson and surrounding area residents woke up to shaking and shifting in May and June when five earth quakes in less than two months hit the area. Nacogdoches county residents say the different rumbles only lasted a few seconds but it's definitely something they never imagined happening in East Texas. The largest of the five was a 4.3 magnitude earth quake.
One mystery we're all left with this year is the motive behind bleach injection deaths. The guilty verdict for dialysis nurse Kim Saenz in March reflected four weeks of testimony in the capital murder trial. Five dialysis patients died after they were injected with bleach at the Lufkin Davita clinic in April 2008 by Saenz. Prosecutors argued Saenz killed five patients and altered the lives of five others, which led her to capital murder charges.
2012 was filled with a roller coaster of emotions for one East Texas mother. In march, San Augustine officials arrested Krystle Tanner who had allegedly been dodging them for the past eight years. The reason…eight-year-old Miguel Antonio Morin who had been missing since 2004.
Auboni Champion-Morin says she left the then eight-month-old boy with tanner to baby sit. San Augustine authorities arrested Tanner for kidnapping. She denies any awareness of a missing child. Her sister contacted police the day after the arrest was made stating the missing child was in her possession and safe in Houston.
One of the biggest pot bust in East Texas happened this year in Polk County. Some officials believe this may have been the biggest bust in Texas history. More than 30 thousand plants including 75 rows of growth were found in a field near Leggett in August by more than 100 officers from 12 different agencies.
You may recall the rough weather we had last month when the Cessna 421 plane crashed in a wooded area in Wells. Local teenagers led police to the crash site using the light from their cell phones. 64-year-old Tom Steeper of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma died in the crash. According to the DPS report, his plane took off from the West Houston Airport and was in route to a Tulsa airport. The investigation of the fatal crash could take up to six month. FAA officials say traffic control lost radio and radar contact with the pilot around 9:30 that night as the plane was trying to avoid the bad weather.
Many of us will never forget the train crash that instantly killed three people in March. The accident happened at a railroad crossing on Maynard St. in Diboll. Witnesses told KTRE they will never forget what they saw that day as the train drug the SUV a hundred yards. The SUV appeared to have stalled on the tracks as the trains horn was sounding. An 18-month-old boy was one of the three killed.
While 2012 brought tears it also brought giggles. Especially when looking at one man's thigh tattoo. Jonathan Thompson taunted a Trinity County Constable with his x-rated thigh tattoo.
His thigh and of course the tattoo gained national attention through the internet. Woody Wallace said Thompson was mad at him for a previous burglary arrest.
And when it comes to criminals there's one serial killer who made a name for himself all around the United States. Israel Keyes was arrested during a routine traffic stop in the parking lot of the Cotton Patch Cafe in March. As a Lufkin State Trooper and a Texas Ranger put the cuffs on Keyes little did they know they were arresting a serial killer. Before committing suicide, while serving federal time in Alaska Keyes confessed to the murders. Israel Keyes, who was custody for the murder of Samantha Koenig, was the confessed killer of Bill and Laurane Currier of Essex Junction, Vermont. Keyes abducted and murder the Currier's in June 2011.
Driving through Nacogdoches this year we've all seen the State Farm Insurance billboards, but we never would have known 'like a good neighbor' would take on a different meaning in East Texas. Brad Fontenot is a familiar face in town and was arrested in April as part of a multi-drug distribution network that operated mainly within residential Nacogdoches neighborhoods.
The 10 hour Lufkin man hunt is a story law enforcement and the Pina family will not forget. Dogs, horses, a helicopter, and dozens of law enforcement agencies surrounded highway 103 to track a suspected killer back in July. Angelina County Sheriff's Office Captain Allen Hill said Terrence Barnes stabbed his girlfriend Rosa Pina during a disturbance and then took off. Rosa's brother Pepe Pina was also stabbed while trying to break up the fight between his sister and Barnes. Both victims were found dead at the scene. Angelina County investigators said on July 27 Barnes confessed to the double murder but no other contents were released. Last month during a pre-trial hearing, the state opted to seek the death penalty. A tentative trial date has been set for August 19, 2013.
Many heart felt and jaw dropping stories from 2012 in East Texas.