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updated 7:27 PM UTC, Sep 16, 2018

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Cameron Westfall denied parole

By Chris Edwards
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cameron-westfallBRAZOS COUNTY – A man convicted for having a role in a brutal double homicide which occurred in 2014 near Colmesneil was denied parole.

Cameron Paul Westfall, 22, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years on Oct. 4, 2016 for two charges of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. He is the youngest member of a family of four, all of whom were convicted for their respective roles in the ambush-style murders of Nathan and Krystal Maddox. The murders occurred outside of Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

During the investigation of the murders, according to previous reports, Cameron Westfall hid a rifle, shotgun, ammunition and other items used in the crime. After the family was apprehended, he led investigators with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department to a pond where the goods were hidden.

His sister Kristen was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Cameron Westfall was required to testify against her as one of the conditions of pleading guilty to two counts of tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies.

Letha Westfall, his mother, pleaded guilty to a capital murder charge and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 30 years. Westfall patriarch Paul was the last one to be sentenced and accepted a plea bargain of life in prison in May 2017.

Cameron Westfall is currently serving his sentence at the Gist Unit in Beaumont. His parole decision came on Thursday, July 12. The reasons, according to his record accessed through the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, indicate a variety of factors ranging from "The record indicates that the offender's release would endanger the public" to "...a conscious disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others."

His next possible parole review date is scheduled for July 2019 and his projected release date, according to TDCJ, is March 11, 2024.

According to a story published in the March 8, 2018 edition of the Booster, The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended that Cameron serve the entirety of his sentence.

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County officials teach area students about local governmental function

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – A group of Tyler County high school students were treated to a civics lesson during Tuesday's Commissioners Court meeting.

The students are part of a summer work program sponsored by the county. The group of 24, ranging in age from 16 to 18, attended the meeting with their supervisors. County Judge Jacques Blanchette welcomed them and explained the role of the court in county government as well as the role of each official who was present.

"We all have our own function to make this county run," county treasurer Jackie Skinner told the program participants.

While sharing what he and the commissioners do, Blanchette compared the function and makeup of the commissioners court to other governing bodies at the state and federal level in terms of operation. He also explained the court's agenda and which officials handle certain tasks.

Sheriff Bryan Weatherford pointed out that many county officials and employees are "home-grown," and told the students that opportunity exists in Tyler County for them after they graduate high school and college.

County juvenile probation supervisor Terry Allen also leads the work program and said the county finds various jobs for the students who apply, many of them clerical positions in different county offices.

Among the regular agenda items, a memorandum of understanding between the Tyler County Sheriff's Office and Warren ISD was adopted. The memorandum is the first step in launching a campus police department for the district.

Weatherford said he is excited that the district is taking the steps to have its own on-campus law enforcement and praised WISD Superintendent Brad McEachern for having the foresight to place a high priority on student safety.

Donnie Gulley, a WISD alumnus who currently serves as a deputy for the Hardin County Sheriff's Department, will lead the campus police force as chief. Weatherford said it will be an asset to have someone like Gulley in the position who has a vested interest in the community.

Commissioners also voted to pass on awarding a bid for emergency standby services. Three sealed bids for this item were received and opened at the previous meeting. The commissioners voted to table the item then, to study the information sent with the bids more carefully before awarding a contract.

County auditor Jackie Skinner said there was a disparity in the information between the bids. Skinner said it would be wise for the county to go out for a rebid, with particulars stated as to what the county expects in terms of information from bidders. "We want everyone [of the bidders] to have the same opportunity," she said.

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Woodville PD hosting annual Teen Police Academy

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Woodville Police Department will begin its annual Teen Police Academy next week. The event, now in its eleventh year, helps familiarize area teenagers with law enforcement and emergency personnel procedures, but also helps many young people see past many stereotypes associated with police and police work, according to Woodville PD Officer Bubba Sheffield.

"We love our teenagers and want the best for them," Sheffield said. "It is great when we see kids' attitudes change toward police and show them that we're not just eating donuts, drinking coffee and taking people to jail."

The academy will run from Monday, July 9 through Thursday, July 12. Each day's training will begin at 9 a.m. at the police station in Woodville. The academy is free for all participants.

Sheffield said that by showing teenagers all of the things police officers do it opens up a career path that many of them had not envisioned before taking part in the academy. "There was a young lady who went through it. She wanted to be a nurse, but after the academy, she decided she wanted to go into criminal justice. Her parents weren't to thrilled," he said with a chuckle.

The City of Woodville funds the academy, and over the four-day course, participants earn 30 hours of training, which, according to Sheffield, will help on future resumes toward employment.

"We wanted to inform kids as to what police officers do. A lot of times they are scared of police. We want to open their eyes about police and police work," Sheffield said.

Some of the speakers on the schedule include Woodville PD officers and Chief Scott Yosko; Municipal Judge Judith Haney; FBI Agent Mike Carroll and Sgt. Lawrence Hicks with the SWAT team. Sheffield added that many of the participants in the past really enjoyed learning about the SWAT team and seeing their equipment.

Food is provided for each day of training and participants will receive T-shirts and certificates to show their completion of the academy.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Teen Police Academy can contact Woodville PD at 409-283-2562. Applications are available at the station, located at 113 N. Charlton St., in Woodville.

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Armed suspects rob Chester bank

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By Chris Edwards
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CHESTER – A search is underway for three men involved in the robbery of Texas State Bank in Chester.

A report of an armed robbery at the bank came in to the Tyler County Sheriff's Office at about 2:22 p.m. on Monday, July 2.

Bank employees described the suspects as three black males, all of whom were armed with handguns and wore masks.

The men got away with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a black sedan. Witnesses were unable to provide any information as to what direction the suspects fled.

According to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the FBI is assisting in the investigation, along with officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, Woodville Police Department and law enforcement from Polk and Angelina counties.

TCSO Chief Deputy Jeff Mashaw warned that the suspects are armed but wanted the public to "be conscious of any strange people or vehicles scoping out" businesses or homes in the area.

If anyone has information pertaining to this investigation, call TCSO at 409-283-2172. This is an ongoing investigation at press time. Please check on the Booster's Facebook page for any further developments.

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