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WPD investigating death at sober house

By Valerie Reddell
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Last Wednesday, Woodville police went to a residence in the 400 block of Pine Street at the request of family members who had lost contact with a 22-year-old man who had recently celebrated 60 days of sobriety. Ethan Ray Tiner had been staying at the Pine Street residence while continuing treatment for alcohol addiction.

Shortly after entering the residence, police found the body of Ethan Ray Tiner of Livingston.

An obituary placed in the Polk County Enterprise indicates that Tiner died Monday.

Woodville Police Captain Mike McCully said his department received a request Wednesday night to check Tiner's welfare.

McCulley said that investigators did not see any indication of suspicious circumstances. An autopsy was conducted in Beaumont which will provide investigators with a cause of death.

Friends of the Tiner family have said that Ethan recently began taking seizure medication.

It will likely take several weeks for the medical examiner in Beaumont to complete the necessary testing.
Meanwhile, family members have planned a funeral service for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Cochran Funeral Home in Livingston. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Ethan's memory to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

Police are continuing to investigate what type of business was being operated at the facility.
Woodville police are continuing to interview witnesses to determine when Tiner was last seen.
"We are reaching out to appropriate state officials to determine who is supposed to be supervising activities at that location," McCulley said.

Authorities are continuing to delve into who operated the group home, but it does not appear that any licensure is required to use a residence at a "sober living homes."

"We are trying to determine what requirements there were," McCulley said. "The death may not have been avoidable and it doesn't look like any type of foul play. Several factors are going to have to be considered."

McCulley said he had no information on whether other clients were continuing their stay at that residence."

Cypress Lakes Lodge is located one mile east of this location on Hwy. 287 (Pine St.), a licensed treatment facility for addiction.
Cypress Lakes Clinical Director Jordanna Cook told the Booster on Thursday that her facility is not affiliated with the residence where Tiner died.

"We are saddened to hear the news," Cook said. "It is the hardest part of working with people struggling with addiction."

Cook added that she could not comment on whether Tiner had been a client at her facility.

TCSO, WPD report rise in scam complaints

By Valerie Reddell
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Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and Woodville Police Chief Scott Yosko are warning residents of phone calls by scammers claiming they must send money now to avoid arrest.

Weatherford said callers are demanding payments sent by purchasing gift cards from local retailers.

"DO NOT send money to anyone calling you about arrest warrants or debts to the IRS without written verification," Weatherford said.

"Law enforcement will not contact you by phone and ask you to send money to settle an arrest warrant," Weatherford said.

In fact, law enforcement officers come to your home or workplace and invite you to come along with them to take care of any outstanding warrant, they don't send you down to the store to purchase a debit card or wire money.

Another Woodville resident contacted the Booster Monday after she received a call from a. man insisting that she had won $2 million in a popular sweepstakes and they just needed a $999.99 refundable deposit to ship her brand new Mercedes to Texas.

Fortunately, this woman insisted that the caller drive the Mercedes to Woodville and she would meet them at her bank and ended the call.

The sheriff advises anyone with questions or concerns, should call the Tyler County Sheriff's Office at (409) 283-2172. Warrant information is only released in person after valid ID is presented. Never, ever send money to someone you don't have an established business relationship with or know personally.

Another popular variety on this scam is the family emergency ploy.

Callers target senior citizens and claim a young family member is being detailed and then demands several hundred dollars to avoid booking the supposed relative into jail.

Don't send money. Contact a trusted family member or a local law enforcement officer who can help you verify your loved one is not being detained or have some other emergency.

Another good method of protecting yourself from scammers is to screen calls from telephone numbers you don't recognize. Even if the unfamiliar caller needs to discuss important business with you, a delay of a few minutes is unlikely to have an impact. If the caller claims to be with your bank or utility company, call the business back using a phone number from your records or the telephone book.

Phone call to FBI thwarts attack on local judge

Collins Johnson McKenzie

By Valerie Reddell
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Three Tyler County residents were arrested on March 29 and 30, foiling a plot allegedly hatched by two of the suspects to kill a local judge, Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said.

Weatherford said investigators with his office were contacted by the Dallas field office of the FBI on March 28.

The agents told local officers that they had received a tip reporting a possible attempt to murder a sitting judge in the Southeast Texas area.

Investigators went to work and quickly learned the target was a white-haired male. Soon after they determined that the supposed target was Tyler County Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Moore.

Local officers met with the individual who reported the threat to the FBI at his residence, east of Woodville. The witness told officers that two people he knew as Dalton and Alicia told him of their plan to attack the judge. The pair left two firearms they planned to use at the witness's residence.

Officers recovered those guns from the witness hours before the suspects planned to make their attack.

Tyler County deputies had already been working with Polk County investigators on the theft of a tractor from their jurisdiction which had been sold to Moore. The two suspects were identified as Dalton Collins, 45, of Woodville and Alicia Johnson, 35, of Woodville. Investigators said a third person, Matthew McKenzie, 24, of Spurger was also involved in the sale of the tractor.

Judge Moore showed investigators a bill of sale for the tractor, which was recovered by the Hardin County Sheriff's Office.
Dalton reportedly contacted Moore on March 27 and asked to meet with him about the tractor in the evening hours of March 28.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for a residence occupied by Collins and Johnson, where they found additional stolen items and other evidence.

Arrest warrants were issued for the three suspects.

On Thursday, March 29, McKenzie was arrested by Tyler County deputies and he was booked into jail for theft.

The U.S. Marshal's Service Task Force arrested Collins and Johnson in Jefferson County without incident.
McKenzie has since been released on $3,500 bond.

Collins was charged with terroristic threat against a judicial official and theft. He was released on bonds totaling $105,000. At press time, Johnson remained in custody at the Tyler County jail on charges of terroristic threat against a judicial official and theft.

The FBI, Texas Rangers and the sheriff's departments in Polk and Tyler counties are continuing their investigations.

Dogwood Festival Western Weekend Saturday

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The Annual Tyler County Dogwood Festival celebrates the second of two weekends Saturday with Western Weekend. The parade through downtown Woodville starts at 2 p.m. and Rodeo at 4 p.m. out at the Rodeo Arena on Hwy. 190 West. There is also a Rodeo Friday night starting at 7 p.m. This is an always popular, family friendly, event!

WPD, Bridge City search for suspect in theft

By Valerie Reddell
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Oshea Jamal WootenOshea Jamal WootenPolice in Woodville and Bridge City are searching for a man wanted in connection with the theft of a generator from its owner in Bridge City, as well as several shoplifting incidents at the Woodville Walmart store.

Woodville Police were called to Walmart by loss prevention associates last week.

Responding officers were unable to locate the man that Walmart employees believe took merchandise without paying, according to Capt. Mike McCulley of WPD, but they did find his truck in the parking lot.

In the back of that truck, police found a generator that was reported stolen in Bridge City.
"He's been stealing from Walmart for quite a while," McCulley said. "They've been trying to identify him. Next time we expect to see a success."

Locating the vehicle may be the next best thing, however.

By accessing ownership information through a statewide database, McCulley believes they have a name and address to match with the store video. Bridge City Police have visited the residence several times and WPD is keeping an eye on a location outside the city limits where the suspect frequently visits another person whom local police know well.

Suspect jailed for taking car from Silsbee dealership

A Woodville man who had been employed at a Silsbee car dealership was arrested March 20 on a felony theft charge in connection with the disappearance of a $45,000 car from the lot on the day the man was terminated.

Oshea Jamal Wooten, 22, of Woodville, was arrested after Silsbee police obtained a warrant for his arrest on a charge of theft of property $30,000 to $150,000. Woodville police also filed misdemeanor charge of failure to maintain financial responsibility, speeding and failure to appear when they took Wooten into custody.

Wooten was taken to the Tyler County jail and later released on bonds totaling $25,000.
SPD investigator Tim Scroggins said Wooten worked for Moore Chrysler Dodge Jeep but was terminated on Jan. 15.

Wooten managed to acquire a set of keys from the dealership and drove off in a vehicle.

"During inventory, they found out it was missing," Scroggins, a former Woodville Police Officer, said Tuesday.

That inventory was performed Feb. 7.

Police were sent to the suspect's Tyler County residence where an officer saw him walking away from the truck. Woodville police recovered the vehicle, which Scroggins said suffered about $5,000 in damage during the time Wooten had it.

In the meantime, Scroggins said he received multiple tips that the suspect in the theft had also been involved in a drive-by shooting SPD was investigating.

"I'm not sure what that was about," Scroggins said. "I just arrested a suspect in the shooting, and it's not him."

Scroggins said that incident left two people with minor injuries. One spent a couple of days in the hospital with woods to the buttocks and side.

"They will be fine," Scroggins said.

The arrest comes after Scroggins said he has spent approximately a month trying to locate witnesses.

Judge Stover named 2018 Mr. East Texan

The Tyler County Dogwood Festival has announced the Honorable Earl B. Stover III of Silsbee as "Mr. East Texas" 2018. The Mr. East Texas Award is presented each year to the East Texan that best exemplifies the spirit and quality of leadership which advances, shapes and gives direction to the growth and progress of East Texas. Festival Executive Buck Hudson stated that Judge Stover was selected for his leadership and commitment to the citizens of the East Texas through the cultivation and preservation of a strong district court and local judicial system that protects and serves this region. Stover will be accepting the award Saturday, April 7, during the Dogwood Pageant.

Judge Stover was born in Austin, Texas to Earl "Smokey" and Juanita Stover while his father attended law school. The Stover family moved to Silsbee, Texas thereafter, where his father began the private practice of law. Earl graduated from Silsbee High School in 1971 where he was an All-District linebacker for the Tigers. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated in 1975. After college, he attended St. Mary's School of Law in San Antonio, Texas graduating in 1978. He served as law clerk for U.S. District Judge, Joe J. Fisher and then followed in his father's footsteps and entered the private practice of law in Silsbee. When his father was elected to the 9th Court of Appeals, Earl once again followed in his footsteps and was elected as the 88th District Court Judge where he has served the people of Hardin and Tyler Counties with distinction since 1997.

Stover has served on the Board of Directors of the Judicial Section of the State Bar and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Association of District Judges. He is a member of the first graduating class of the Judicial College where he met the standards for certification of special competence. Judge Stover received a Presidential Commendation from the State Bar of Texas in 2006 for leadership in improving justice in Texas. He is a member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and has also served as past president of the Hardin County Bar Association.

Judge Stover is deeply committed to the youth of Hardin and Tyler Counties and has become widely regarded in the field of juvenile justice. He is the chairman of both the Hardin and Tyler County Juvenile Boards. Underscoring his dedication to the youth of Hardin and Tyler Counties, Stover has organized and spoken at several Juvenile Law Seminars in the past and plans to do so again. The seminars inform all the school officials, law enforcement officers, attorneys and the public in general about recent changes in Juvenile Law.

Stover has received the Distinguished Service Award from the Hardin County Crime Victims Association multiple times for his dedication and commitment to Crime Victim's Rights. He has served as the featured speaker at various Crime Victim's programs as well as local Chambers of Commerce and service clubs about various issues related to the Judiciary. He is a long-standing member of the Silsbee Kiwanis Club and a member of several local Chambers of Commerce.

Judge Stover was very active with his daughters in youth sports having served as Kelly High School Girl's Golf coach as well as coach and referee in soccer and softball. He has served as Vice-President of the Spindletop Youth Soccer Association where over 3,300 boys and girls in the area participate in youth soccer. He has also served on the Advisory Board of the Three Rivers Counsel of the Boy Scouts of America.

Stover has been married to his wife Jan for 33 years and they have 2 daughters, one son and one grandson. The Stovers attend St. John's Episcopal Church in Silsbee where they serve in leadership positions. Their son Christopher lives in College Station with his family and is the father of their grandson Mack. Daughter Elise is a graduate of LSU and resides in the Dallas area where she sells real estate. Elise was a visiting duchess in the 2007 Dogwood Festival which will long be remembered for the snow and sleet that fell on the parade that year. Daughter Janna is a graduate of Rice University and obtained her Master of Engineering degree from the University of Texas, Austin. She is employed as a structural engineer in Houston where she resides with her husband Peter Foble. Jana served as a visiting duchess in the 2008 Dogwood Festival.