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updated 3:21 PM UTC, Feb 15, 2019



More arrests made in connection with murder investigation



By Chris Edwards
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HILLISTER – A quartet of recent arrests brings the total to five individuals in custody in connection with an ongoing murder investigation.

On the morning of Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of suspicious activity at Christopher Paulette’s residence located on County Road 4289 in Hillister. Paulette, 34, remains in the Tyler County Jail, charged with Capital Murder, after the body of 64-year-old Onalaska resident Susan Morris was found during a search of his home a week prior.

The caller reported a suspicious silver passenger car, with two individuals inside, parked at Paulette’s house. According to a news release from Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, as deputies responded, they were advised that the silver vehicle had left the residence and traveled down CR 4260 toward Woodville.

They soon encountered the silver passenger car, which was northbound on CR 4260 at a high rate of speed. The suspect vehicle continued at a high rate of speed refusing to stop for deputies.

The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Bryan Hewson, lost control and struck an electric pole at the corner of CR 4260 and CR 4262. 

Hewson, age 32, of Grandbury and the passenger, Krystine Caldwell, age 30, of Beaumont, were arrested without incident and transported to the Tyler County Jail. Hewson was booked into jail charged with Evading Arrest/Detention with a Motor Vehicle. Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Milton Powers set a $7,500 bond. Caldwell was booked into jail and charged with Fail to Identify/Fugitive, Hardin County Warrant for Fail to Identify and for Prohibited Substance/Item in Correctional Facility. Caldwell was set a $62,500 bond by Powers.  

According to Weatherford, both Hewson and Caldwell remain in the Tyler County Jail and could face additional criminal charges.

Kidnapping suspects arrested
On Saturday, Dec. 30, TCSO deputies made two more arrests of individuals who allegedly claimed to be “tying up loose ends” for Paulette.

TCSO obtained warrants for two suspects, Wesley Harris, 21, of Corrigan and Colton McInnis, 19, of Silsbee. According to Weatherford, his office received a call on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, from a caller who told dispatchers of an incident that occurred on FM 1943 near Fred.

The caller advised of a passenger car door open on a vehicle traveling directly in front of her and could see that a female was attempting to exit the vehicle. The caller also noted that some type of altercation was occurring inside the vehicle.

The vehicle eventually came to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. As it did, the reporting caller also stopped and a female exited, running towards the caller’s vehicle. As she entered the caller’s vehicle she screamed, “they are trying to kill me.”

The victim told TCSO deputies two male suspects, whom she knew and identified, had picked her up at her Warren residence during what she said began as a friendly encounter. As they traveled toward Fred, the two male suspects told her they were working on behalf of Paulette and were “tying up loose ends.”

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were able to locate the suspects’ unoccupied vehicle and additional evidence.

Harris and McInnis were charged with aggravated kidnapping, and both had bonds set by Powers at $500,000 each. They remain in the Tyler County Jail.

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Murdered woman remembered fondly as kind, generous

By Valerie Reddell

Susan MorrisSusan MorrisHILLISTER — Friends of Onalaska resident Susan Morris recall her as the sweetest person ever.

They struggle to come to terms with the news that Morris’s body was found hidden in a Hillister residence after a man called 911 shortly after 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21 and told Tyler County deputies that he was being held against his will.

Responding officers found the male caller near the front door of the house with his hands bound. Another man, Christopher Blake Paulette, 34, was armed with a shotgun when he was taken into custody.

Officers secured then scene and obtained a search warrant for the property, which appears to belong to relatives of the suspect.

During the subsequent search, officers found Morris’s body.

Paulette has been charged with capital murder and District Judge Delinda Gibbs Walker ordered him to be held without bond.

Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said an autopsy has been ordered and took place at Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Beaumont, but a cause of death had not been released as of Friday.

Federal ATF agents and the Texas Rangers are assisting in the investigation.

Paulette has also been charged with felon in possession of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

Tami Saxton and her husband Wes have been neighbors and friends of Morris for many years.

News reports about Morris’s death posted online included mentions of recent arrests, which the Sextons and other friends say are retaliation.

Christopher blake PauletteChristopher blake PauletteThey describe Morris as a wealthy woman who, since her husband’s death in 2013, has been repeatedly victimized by relatives and friends she was trying to help.

She was arrested by Onalaska Police Department for sexual assault of a child, an incident that friends say never happened. Wes Saxton picked Morris up from the Polk County Jail when she was released on bond. He said the arrest came the morning after Morris began an action to recover thousands of dollars missing from bank accounts after one or more juveniles learned her credit card and PIN numbers.

She was also released on bond after two felony drug charges were filed.

Narcotics were found in her home, but they were among the personal possessions brought into Morris’s home by a family member she was trying to help. That family member then invited another couple to stay at the home as well.

In addition to the criminal charges, detectives seized a large amount of cash from a safe in Morris’s home. The status of those charges as well as the status of the money could not be determined before county offices closed on Friday.

Longtime friend Gina Parker said Friday that Morris’s three houseguests made her uncomfortable.
Parker met Morris at a tanning salon in Onalaska.

“I didn’t know her real well, but we had a continuing friendship,” Parker said.

Morris attended Parker’s church once or twice.

Parker recalled that Morris had paid for the funeral of one of her late husband’s relatives.

“She didn’t hide the fact that she had money, and people took advantage of her because of that,” Parker said.

Parker adheres to many of the teachings of her Pentecostal church regarding how female members should dress and behave. She eventually had to distance herself from her friend out of concern for her own safety.

“(The houseguests) made me feel weird. They watched every move (Susan) made,” Parker said.

Houston attorney Mike DeGuerin is representing Morris on the pending charges.

“Those cases will be dismissed as soon as I get a death certificate,” DeGuerin said Friday.
DeGuerin added that due to the current status of the investigation into Morris’s death, he did not yet have full details.

“There’s much more to the story,” DeGuerin said.

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Onalaska woman killed in Hillister Attack



TYLER COUNTY — A Hillister man is being held without bail on capital murder charges after a 911 call led Tyler County deputies to a Hillister residence where a man was being held against his will. Deputies also found the body of Susan Morris, 64, of Onalaska in a subsequent search of the home.

Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford said his office received a 911 call at about 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 21.

That anonymous call led officials to the home where they found a man whose hands were bound and he told officers he was being forcible held there.

They immediately arrested Christopher Paulette, 34, of Hillister at that location. Reports show Paulette was armed with a shotgun.

They secured the scene while investigators obtained a search warrant.

It was during that search that officers found Morris’s body hidden within the house.

Officers speaking on condition of anonymity said she had been badly beaten.

Morris was taken to the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Beaumont for an autopsy.

No preliminary results for that autopsy were available as of Thursday evening.

Paulette has been charged with capital murder and District Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker ordered him to be held without bond.

Federal ATF agents and the Texas Rangers are assisting in the investigation.

Paulette has also been charged with felon in possession of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

Morris has faced some legal difficulties of her own, with records at the Polk County Jail showing pending charges for sexual assault of a child and two counts of manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance.

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Body discovered in Hillister



HILLISTER – On Friday, Dec. 21 at approximately 6 a.m., an anonymous caller told a 911 operator that a male subject was being held against his will at a residence located in Hillister, located eight miles south of Woodville.

Deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office responded to the residence and as they approached the front door, encountered a male subject with his hands bound. Deputies located and took into custody a second male subject, Christopher Paulette, who was armed with a handgun. Deputies secured the scene and obtained a search warrant for the residence. TCSO deputies along with ATF agents conducted a search of the residence and discovered a deceased female hidden in the residence. The identity of the deceased female is not being released at this time pending family notification.

An autopsy will be conducted by the Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Beaumont.

Paulette, age 34 of Hillister, has been charged with Capital Murder and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Paulette is currently being held in the Tyler County Jail with no bond. The case remains under investigation by Tyler County Sheriff's Office Investigators, ATF, and the Texas Rangers.

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