Trashing East Texas: Land Owner Visits Acre Of Dead Animals - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

12/19/06-Tyler

Trashing East Texas: Land Owner Visits Acre Of Dead Animals

Several updates to a story KLTV 7 brought you first. The latest in the long line of recently discovered Trashing East Texas sites, it's on County Road 488.  That's just north of Loop 323 on Texas College Road. That land is covered with building debris, household trash and dead animals.  KLTV went back to the site to meet with environmental investigators and the landowner. We noticed a man with a trailer load of debris going into the land. We called environmental investigators.  They quickly caught up with 31 year old Erasmo Rincon. Rincon told authorities he was going to dump the leaves and limbs on the land and then burn them. He says he had permission from the lessee of the property to do so. Nevertheless, he was arrested on two charges: illegal dumping and illegal transportation. After the arrest, we found out more about the person who owns the land and how it got so bad.

Smith County Environmental Investigators Danny Brasher and Tommy Goodman meet with the owner of this land Richard Campbell.

"We are fixing to go tour the property. He is going to be able to see it for the first time and I can only image what his reaction is going to be," says Brasher.

Richard Campbell of Lindale says he had no idea he and his wife had inherited this dumpsite 2 years ago.

"There is several different tracks of property that is probably 300 acres plus," says Campbell.

This is not the first of Campbell's inherited property that is being used as a dumpsite. In February, we also featured another piece of land in Trashing East Texas. It also was inherited by Campbell.

"Every time we get one step ahead we get 3 or 4 steps backwards. So it has been an ongoing battle," says Campbell.

Investigators took Campbell out to survey his property which has been leased to 81 year old John Ruffins for 50 years.

"I am really appalled that someone would do this to someone else property. Mr. Ruffins didn't own this property," says Campbell.

Then Campbell sees the site covered in dead and decomposing animals and the smell is indescribable. Campbell looks on in disbelief.

"Somebody needs to be punished, somebody needs to be punished. This is unreal and people knew better than this and to see the extent to what has been dropped here. There is no way that Mr. Ruffin didn't know any better," says Campbell.

Then Campbell can't stand it any longer.

"We can leave now," says Campbell.

Later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality responded to the site. To see if the land qualifies as an environmental hazard.  At the end of the day, investigators arrested John Ruffins on 3 felony charges, for illegal dumping, illegal transportation and illegal dumping by receiving.

Ruffins says he was disposing of the dead animals, found on the property, for local veterinarians.   We spoke with two clinics who say they have called on Ruffins for those services. One veterinarian told us Ruffins was providing a valuable service to a lot of people.  Investigators say the veterinarians could face charges.

However, as for the owner, investigators say he will not face any charges.

Karolyn Davis, reporting. kdavis@kltv.com

 

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