Ex-Melrose Water Supply boss who hid in woods accepts 25-year prison stint

Ex-Melrose Water Supply boss who hid in woods accepts 25-year prison stint
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office
Source: Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Testimony started Monday in Nacogdoches in the burglary trial of Jeffery Douglas Holliman, the former Melrose Water Supply manager who had been living in the woods before he was arrested in August 2013, but the trial came to a halt at midday.

Holliman ended up pleading guilty in exchange for 25 years in prison, according to prosecuting attorney Andrew Jones. At the time of his arrest, he had been on probation for stealing more than $140,000 from Melrose Water Supply.

Originally, a total of 26 felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against Holliman.

Holliman, 50, is still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail. In all the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office filed 13 second-degree felony burglary of a habitation, one state-jail felony charge of burglary of a building, nine Class A misdemeanor charges of burglary of a motor vehicle, and a Class B misdemeanor charge in addition to the original motion to revoke probation charge.

The Pct. 4 Constable's Office filed two burglary of a vehicle charges and one theft charge against Holliman. Collectively, his bail was originally set at $240,500.

In addition because of pictures found on a computer that was in Jeffrey Douglas Holliman's possession that showed him with an arsenal of firearms that included an AR-15-style assault rifle, a deer rifle with a sound suppressor, and a saw-off shotgun, federal weapons charges may be pending against Holliman as well.

"We found these pics of him on a computer that he was in possession of," Nacogdoches County sheriff Jason Bridges said of the two pictures provided to East Texas News. "He was taking pictures of himself with a game camera while he was living in the woods and committing these burglaries. "

When authorities started searching the woods and abandoned houses in the Melrose-Woden area for Holliman in late July of 2013, he was considered armed and dangerous.

"With him attempting to make silencers and stealing guns and things of that nature and described as a survivalist, we would have to say he is armed and dangerous," Bridges said in a previous East Texas News story.

According to a press release, the NCSO and the Pct. 4 Constable's Office had been investigating a string of burglaries and thefts in the Melrose-Woden area that started in mid-January. During that time, there were more than 30 offense reports made to law enforcement.

Bridges said investigators spent many long hours conducting surveillance on the area, interviewing witnesses, and processing evidence in an attempt to find a suspect. Initially, leads were few and far between, according to the press release.

The break in the case came in late July of 2013. Investigators found an abandoned mobile home on County Road 411 where the suspect had been staying. They were able to recover a large amount of stolen property, along with several fingerprints.

"Once a possible suspect was identified, we were able to use that information with other evidence collected at several other crime scenes," Bridges said in the press release. "Investigators were able to positively identify the suspect as Jeffrey Holliman."

The Nacogdoches County Sheriff Office has numerous recovered property items and has no complainant or owner information and no idea who it belongs to," Bridges said. "We believe that some of these thefts and burglaries may have never been reported to law enforcement. We encourage our citizens to contact us if they have had something stolen from them, so we can return all of this property to the rightful owners. "

In the press release, Bridges said it is a good idea for people to write down the serial numbers of items that have been purchased or etch a driver's license into the property, where applicable.

By his own confession, Holliman had been living in the woods since September 2012. Bridges said during that time, Holliman had "limited contact" with the public.

When a land owner told the Pct. 4 Constable's Office that someone was in the woods near his or her property, law enforcement officials went to check it out and found Holliman hiding inside a tent on Aug. 2, 2013, He was taken into custody without any further incident.

"Not sure what was running through his mind, but I think we caught him by surprise, off guard, and were able to get him before he really thought about doing too much," said David Stone, the Pct. 4 constable.

Authorities had to cut a trail to get to the two tents, where they found some of the stolen property.

"It's real far back," Stone said. "My chief deputy did a great job of trailing him, and I can remember coming down here when it was just the two us thinking, 'Wow, he must be crazy.'"

Deemed a survivalist, Holliman was able to live off of water from a nearby pond and stolen food. Because he didn't have a car, he often traveled through the woods to get from place to place.

When Holliman was caught, he was "severely dehydrated." He was taken to a Nacogdoches hospital for treatment before he was placed in the Nacogdoches County Jail.

At the time the NCSO obtained the motion to revoke probation warrant for Holliman, he had been serving a 10-year probation sentence for stealing more than $200,000 from the Melrose Water Supply Company over the course of several months.

In addition to the guns, Holliman allegedly stole in the multiple burglaries, he also suspected of taking computers and other assorted personal property.

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