TYLER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - An ongoing child custody issue could have been a factor in Saturday's double slaying of a Zavalla couple who were on a supervised visit with the man's 4-year-old daughter at a church in Colmesneil, according to Tyler County's chief deputy.
"The child custody issue could have been a motivating factor in the shootings," said Phil Ryan, the chief deputy for the Tyler County Sheriff's Office.
Nathan Bradley Maddox, 35, and Krystal Renee Maddox, 31, were identified as the two people killed in the shooting incident. Ryan said forensic pathologists in Beaumont performed autopsies on the couple's bodies Monday. The Tyler County chief deputy said they haven't gotten the results from those autopsies back at this time.
Ryan said Monday that the 4-year-old girl is still in the custody of her maternal grandparents. He said Child Protective Services is checking to make sure the little girl is in a safe environment. Ryan said the girl's biological mother, Nathan Maddox's ex-wife, still lives with her parents.
Ryan said both Nathan Maddox and his ex-wife had checkered pasts and criminal records. However, according to records on public.data.com, Nathan Maddox's was last convicted in February 2001 on a burglary charge. The ex-wife has pending criminal charges, Ryan said.
Nathan Maddox had been trying to straighten his life out, so he could get full custody of his daughter, Ryan said. Along those lines, a child custody hearing had already been scheduled, the chief deputy said. Ryan said the little girl's maternal grandparents were opposed to Nathan Maddox getting full custody of the child.
In October, Nathan Maddox filed a motion against the grandparents to modify the parent/child relationship, stating that the grandfather has a history of family violence. In the motion, Nathan Maddox said one night, he visited his daughter and got in an altercation with the grandfather. He said the grandfather choked him and screamed that he was going to kill him before he pulled a shotgun on him. The motion was found at the Tyler County District Clerk's Office.
Ryan said the sheriff's office had responded to the incident in October but could not make an arrest because of a lack of evidence. He said they gave conflicting stories and there were no visible injuries. Tyler County authorities were getting the evidence together for the district attorney's office to present to a grand jury.
He confirmed that the grandfather has been interviewed following the homicides.
In addition, Ryan said the reward for any information leading to an arrest or conviction of the suspect or suspects responsible for killing Nathan and Krystal Maddox has been upped to $2,000.
According to the Associated Press, Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said his investigators have already ruled out murder-suicide in the case. He did not release any information about suspects or a possible motive to the Associated Press.
A press release stated that a call came into Tyler County Sheriff's 911 dispatch reporting shots fired at Mount Carmel Baptist Church on CR 3725 near RR 255 in Tyler County. When deputies arrived on scene they found two bodies at the scene that were identified as Nathan Maddox and Krystal Maddox.
The suspect or suspects had already fled the scene when authorities arrived.
In a previous East Texas News story, Bud Sturrock, the chief investigator for the Tyler County Sheriff's Office, the couple was on a supervised visitation with Bradley Maddox's four-year-old daughter. Nathan and Krystal Maddox were leaving the church. The child and a mediator were still inside the church when they heard up to five shots. The mediator called 911 and was told to lock the church doors and stay inside until law enforcement arrived.
A justice of the peace pronounced them dead on the scene.
The couple had five children between them, but none together. They had been married for just over a year.
The supervised visitations took place four times a month on Saturdays, Sturrock said.
Church services at Mount Carmel Baptist Church were canceled Sunday.
Anyone with any information that might lead to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the deaths of Nathan and Krystal Maddox is urged to call the Tyler County Sheriff's Office at (409) 281-2172.