Former FBI agent writes true-crime book about corruption, crime in Tenaha
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Corruption, extortion, and staged burglaries.
Those crimes and others happened in the unlikely town of Tenaha.
FBI agent Stewart Fillmore from Tyler investigated the case starting in 2009. Now retired, Fillmore wrote about it in his first true-crime book.
Fillmore chased criminals for 24 years. Now he's writing about them. His first true-crime book, "Tenaha: Corruption and Cover-Up in Small Town Texas" may have all the right elements for an interesting read.
"You know dirty public officials. I think that's an intriguing topic to a lot of people," Fillmore said.
In 2009, a federal civil lawsuit accused Tenaha elected officials of stopping African-Americans on U.S. Highway 59 and seizing their money and property by threatening them with criminal prosecution. The story made CNN. That's when the FBI assigned Fillmore to look for criminal activity.
"There was nothing that we found to be illegal that would rise to the level of putting someone in jail," Fillmore said.
The case was almost closed when Fillmore got a letter shared by Fred Walker, the constable at the time.
"It was an extortion letter and it was from someone calling themselves Jack Frost," Fillmore said. "Jack Frost claimed that Fred Walker and another individual named Rod McClure were stealing narcotics out of the Tenaha City Marshal's evidence room and that Jack Frost, in this extortion letter, wanted $70,000 from both of them for his silence."
Jack Frost, believed to be a DEA agent, cooperated with authorities. Everything in the letter proved to be true.
"In fact, Walker and McClure had been stealing the narcotics out of the evidence room and selling it for profit," Fillmore said.
Walker's sharing of the letter ultimately broke the case for Fillmore. But why would a prime suspect do such a thing?
"That's a question I never quite answered," Fillmore said.
Court documents provide evidence of wiretapping, illegal guns, staged burglaries and even a mysterious death. Then there's the rest of the story that Fillmore provides.
"I do," Fillmore said. There is some insight that was never made public during the course of the case."
Fillmore has many more career stories. A fiction novel, based on another true East Texas criminal investigation, is in the works.
"Tenaha: Corruption and Cover-Up in Small Texas Town" can be purchased online and in some East Texas bookstores. Fillmore will have a book signing and discussion on Oct. 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Bosslight Book Store in Nacogdoches.
Meanwhile, Fred Walker was never charged. Rod McClure is coming to the end of federal prison sentence.
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