Texas Ranger: Girl whose father was killed in Tyler Co. double slaying should stay in foster care

Nathan and Krystal Maddox
Nathan and Krystal Maddox

WOODVILLE, TX (KTRE) - Day two of the child custody hearing for the five-year-old daughter of a Zavalla man killed in a double homicide began Friday morning at the Tyler County Courthouse in Woodville. After testimony by several witnesses, the hearing ended with a continuance.

Friday afternoon, the judge granted a continuance in the custody case. Because a witness is having medical issues, the child custody hearing will continue on April 9.

The child had been in the custody of her maternal grandparents, Letha and Lloyd "Paul" Westfall until Jan. 23 when Child Protective Services took her out of their care because of "safety issues." Since then, the child has been living in foster care.

Nathan Bradley Maddox, 35, and his wife, Krystal Renee Maddox, 31, were on a supervised visitation with Nathan's daughter at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, which is located on CR 3725 in Tyler County, when they were shot and killed outside the church.

"The Westfall family moved for a continuance, and we are not objecting to that because we want to give law enforcement time to do their job and, hopefully, get somebody in custody," said Ryan Deaton, the attorney representing the Maddox family.

Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said the new information presented in Friday's custody hearing proves that the little girl is better off in foster care.

"We hope some more information will come to light," Pulliam said. "We hope there is an arrest. That way, we know she is safe, and the judge can decide where she can be placed."

Texas Ranger Bobby Smith testified he believes the child should stay within the custody of foster care for her "mental health" because the situation was traumatizing. Smith said the killers are still on the loose and there have been no arrests at this time. He said the child is considered to be a potential witness to the "double murder."

"So, I guess if there are killers on the loose, is that an environment for a potential witness to be out there?" Deaton said.

"No," Smith said, who added the possibility for the child to be at risk of danger is high. "I think it's in her best interest. She's in a secure area at this time."

When asked if Smith believes there are other reasons why the child is in foster care, he stated there are other reasons. However, he did not elaborate on those other reasons because it interferes with an ongoing criminal investigation.

"She was in a relatively short distance from where two people were murdered," Smith said.

Texas Ranger Kevin Parks, who has been with the Department of Public Safety for over 29 years, says he conducted a field test on a Ziploc bag found inside the West falls' home that was allegedly filled with drug residue. He said the drug residue did test positive for methamphetamine. He said the drugs have been submitted to the crime lab. He said the Ziploc bag was fairly small and was too small to "put a sandwich in."

He said the residue was such a small quantity that the common practice is to swab it to see if it contained an illegal narcotic. A syringe was also found inside the bag and he said he did not test the syringe.

On Wednesday, Coy Lee Collins Jr., a special investigator with CPS, testified the child was taken out of the West falls' care because law enforcement found methamphetamine, a syringe, and a loaded pistol inside their residence during a search warrant investigation.

He also said they were concerned because raw sewage was leaking onto the property. However, he did say that all parties involved in the custody case did pass a state ordered drug test.

Chuck Marshall, a deputy with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, said his partner found a bag of drug residue inside a dresser drawer at the West falls' home on Jan.18. He said inside the bag was a syringe that contained probably about a drop of some sort of black or brown substance. He said his partner also found a loaded .22-caliber pistol on Kristen West falls' nightstand.

He said Letha Westfall admitted she was keeping the drugs in the house in case they needed to get back at their daughter, Kristen.

Janice Jones, an investigator with the Tyler County CPS, said she wrote the original removal affidavit for the child and explained the child was taken out of custody because the child was at a potential risk because the shooter or shooters have not been arrested.

An attorney for Kristen Westfall asked Jones if Krystal Maddox's children have been taken into CPS custody, in which Jones said she did not know. However, family members inside the courtroom shouted "no," saying two of her children were sitting inside the room.

"Should the children be as easily in danger, as well?" said the attorney, asking why it didn't stand to reason for the other children to be in danger as much as Nathan's daughter.

Jones said it does, but said she does not know any information about Krystal Maddox and her children because she does not have an open investigation with Krystal Maddox.

In October, Nathan Maddox filed a motion against the Westfalls to modify the parent/child relationship, stating Lloyd Westfall had a history of family violence. In the motion, it says the grandfather choked him and screamed that he was going to kill him while pointing a shotgun at Nathan Maddox.

Jones said they looked into Lloyd West falls' history and was not able to find any evidence that he has a violent history. She said Jim Maddox, the paternal grandfather of the child, did have a prior arrest for having possession of marijuana. However, a social worker went to the Maddox home and deemed it appropriate for a child.

Yet, she said, in her opinion, she believes the child is better off staying in foster care for her safety due to the seriousness of the case. They said they do not know if the child was a witness, or if she could possibly be the next intended victim

Deaton asked Jones if there was ever a CPS case where parents have said, "If I can't have her, no one can have her," in which Jones answered "Yes."

Then Deaton asked if there were ways for people to throw off drug tests, such as hair follicle tests,  and Jones replied that people have done several things to get out of drug tests before including dying their hair and drinking bleach.

Jones said Kristen Westfall's Feb. 11 hair follicle test was negative, but the urine test was positive for Opioids, including Hydrocodone, which is an opioid often found in ibuprofen, and Benzodiazepine, which is a psychoactive drug used for anxiety, insomnia and other medical issues. She did say she did not know if those were prescribed drugs.

Jones said she did contact the lab as to why one drug test was positive and the other drug test was negative. The CPS worker testified she believes Kristen Westfall had taken those drugs fairly close to the drug test, and the drugs didn't have enough time to be recognized in the hair follicle test.

Deaton asked her if there were any other reasons as to why the results were different, into which she replied that was the reason she got from the lab.

Judge David Dunn rescheduled the custody hearing on Feb. 5 after council for both the Maddox family and the Westfall family, whom are both fighting for custody, asked for more time to prepare their evidence.

On Wednesday, Deaton said he believes the evidence is going to make it real clear that the "murderers are in this room."

"I believe between now and April somebody should be in jail, but I'm not privy to any of that investigation, so I can't say for sure, but the more time they have the better because truly we wouldn't feel comfortable having the child until somebody is in jail," Deaton said.

The investigation into the murders of Nathan and Krystal Maddoxi is still ongoing. Investigators have said that they will not leave any stone unturned and are following up on some solid leads. Anyone with any information about the double murder should call the Tyler County Sheriff's Office at (409) 283-2172.

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