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  Texas : Features : Columns : N. Ray Maxie :

The Preacher's Kid
and a Post Office Burglary

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie
Home in bed sleeping late at night is a good place for a tired body. It was about 1:30 am after I had finished a nine hour shift on the streets and highways and had gone off duty at midnight. Fast asleep, the bedside phone rang. I fumbled for the ringing phone and answered it. It was the Hopkins County Sheriff's Department radio dispatcher. He said that his night time patrol unit was in a "hot" all out search for a suspect in a stolen white 1964 Chevrolet Corvette in west county, around Cumby, Texas. A patrol unit from neighboring Hunt County was also involved. So, he was trying to get all the assistance he could and asked if I could help out.

Since it was my sworn public duty to serve and protect, what else could I do ? I quickly agreed. Although I wasn't fully rested or in the greatest state of alertness, duty called. I hurriedly put on my uniform again, grabbed my car keys, kissed my wife good bye and headed for the patrol car parked out in the driveway. Although it was a chilly night, I could tell that my car was still sort'a warm from my previous shift. The dispatcher had advised me to pick up another officer at the Sulphur Springs PD to go with me. I found him waiting there and ready to go when I arrived.

Cumby is about 12 to 14 miles west of Sulphur Springs on I-30, very near the Hunt County line, of which Greenville is the county seat. You pass through the little community of Brashear on the way. It must have taken me every bit of thirty to forty five minutes from the time I got the call until I arrived in Cumby. Enroute, I had heard on my state/county police radio that the other units were heavily working an area just south of Cumby, as it was believed the last place the suspect and stolen car was seen. They had not yet caught the suspect, so all there was to do was patrol, patrol, and search, and search some more. My partner and I had already made a swing or two through the main downtown part of Cumby, which is just north of I-30 on the old part of US 67. We worked the entire circumference of the area and never spotted the white Corvette.

About 3:10 am, we spotted what we considered a very suspicious late night vehicle occupied by two white males. It was an old faded, dirty and rusted 1950 model Dodge 4 door sedan. It was traveling toward I-30 from downtown Cumby. Very suspicious at that time of night. I pursued it, turned on my red lights and pulled the vehicle over before reaching I-30. Cautiously walking up to the vehicle, we approached it from both sides. Looking it all over very closely, there wasn't much there that obviously caused much more immediate suspicion. There was an old machete and hammer in the back seat. The machete did appear to have some chalky looking, dusty substance on the blade. No great bells or whistles going off to say that these two were criminals. So, we took all their identification information, place of employment, vehicle information, etc., and then we turned them loose.

I walked into the Sheriff's office the next day, probably after noon, since I really did have to get some much-needed rest. There I learned that he United States Post Office at Cumby, Texas had been burglarized the previous night and early morning. The back door of the building was broken in and the safe was attached and peeled. A great amount of postage stamps, money orders, cash and change had been taken from the safe. The safe had been hammered, chiseled, pried and peeled open. Sheriff's officers had already been to the scene that morning and done an investigation. A very good investigation, I might say. Pictures, fingerprint dusting, tool mark images, an inventory of what was missing and a plaster cast of tire prints near the back door of the building. The foundation was laid for a good investigation.

As we talked about the case and I review their investigation, I told them that I just might have a suspect or two. The investigating deputy and I then took his plaster casts of the tire prints and drove to the place of employment of the driver of the vehicle. It was in north Sulphur Springs. We got down on our hands and knees and compared the plaster cast with the tires on the suspect vehicle. IT WAS A MATCH !!. Eureka !!! This may be the one. We went inside the place of business, a manufacturing facility, located the suspect and took him into custody for questioning. Finally, I was told, after lengthy interrogation, he gave them a statement of guilt and lead officers to a location on the Sulphur River where he and his partner had thrown all the tools they had used and the postage stamps, money orders, etc., into the river. They had panicked and decided to dump all the stuff after being stopped and identified that night in Cumby. Officers recovered all that they could recover. He soon identified his "partner in crime" as the son of a very prominent and outstanding local "man of the cloth." So, the preacher's son was soon arrested, too. And after a while he confessed to his part in the crime, gave officers a statement and was placed in jail, also.

The US Postal Service Postal Inspectors were called into this investigation. The burglary case and both suspects were turned over to them to process. I then lost track of the case since I was out of it. But, the suspects did tell me that if a postal employee, a late night postal route man, had shown up while they were in the post office, they would likely have thrust the meshette into him and left him there.

In recalling these incidents, I wish I could remember. But I got caught up in this burglary and I really don't think the white Corvette was ever found in the area of Hopkins County. But, as usual, it likely was found elsewhere later.

That's the breaks. Win some. Lose some. Sometimes you get rained out. It's all in a night's work.
N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray"
October 15, 2005
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