Anchor / Reporter Reel
Anchor / Reporter Reel
Finally finished with a project I’ve been working on for the last six months. I got to tag along with the ”The Six String Boys” on many of their singing endeavors around the Houston and College Station area. The “Six String Boys Rockumentary” will soon follow.
Video Copyright: Water into Wine Productions
A remarkable milestone was reached Thursday morning for exactly 88 foreign nationals living and working in the Brazos Valley. Each was sworn in as U.S. Citizens in front of family, friends and even former president George HW Bush and first lady Barbara Bush.
Imagine one room filled with 26 countries sitting shoulder to shoulder in peace.
“My family is from Nigeria,” said Gideon Igbeare, who now lives in Houston. “I came in 1984, as a matter of fact, January 22, 1984.”
“I grew up about 10-15 minutes from the U.S. border,” said Mike Hanik, a Texas A&M Professor, a native of Canada.
And in that room, there are no borders dividing the people, or oppressing beliefs or dreams.
“Once you’re here as a resident, you have the freedom to do those things and in a lot of other countries you don’t have those freedoms,” explained Hanik.
“When you become a citizen you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams,” said Igbeare.
Instead, each and every one sees eye-to-eye while sharing the insatiable desire for democracy.
“When you put a law in Nigeria they don’t follow it — it becomes chaos,” said Igbeare. “There are laws in the U.S. and they have to be followed, I mean, Nigeria is a great country to be in, but the thing is they have a lot of poor, hungry people and many in town are embezzling oil money.”
“The freedom to express your mind, to worship and the freedom to speak your mind and your not held up or jailed or anything like that,” added Igbeare-Thomas. “It’s an exciting feeling to be able to vote and to do the things that you should do as a citizen in your community.”
Taking her first official steps towards American Citizenship in front of family and friends, Sara Igbeare-Thomas and 87 others legally became U.S. Citizens.
“It’s joyful, it’s peaceful, it’s everything,” said Igbeare-Thomas.
“Becoming a citizen in the U.S. is not an easy thing to do, I know this because I went through it,” explained Igbeare, “You have to go through a lot of protocols like filling out papers, fingerprints, background checks and testing.”
“I went into the interview as a professor and I was like, yea, I need to pass this test,” laughed Hanik. “The naturalization test is somewhere around 100 questions and I went over some of them with my students and most of them knew the answers, but some didn’t.”
With every obstacle and success encountered, the people in the room are no longer a number, rather U.S. Citizens eager to exercise America’s promise of freedom and opportunity.
Thursday’s ceremony is being held in conjunction with a 3500 mile bike and walk across America to empower today’s youth to be active citizens in their community.
Students attending schools in the Bryan Independent School District may want to think twice about skipping school. District officials are cracking down on truancy and a GPS device is paving the way.
If you ask Justice of the Peace Tommy Munoz, accountability and responsibility are just two key ingredients that make up a successful student.
Do your homework, do what you need to do,” said Munoz. “I tell them this exact thing while they’re in court; the schools have rules and if you break the rules you come to court. Adults? What do we have? If we break the law we go to jail.”
That’s exactly where three students from Bryan ISD ended up Tuesday afternoon after skipping school one too many times — including this Bryan High School Junior.
“The reason why I haven’t’ gone to school is because I was babysitting or trying to find a job,” explained Rozaline Burns. “I didn’t realize they counted for each class absence. I thought it was counted for each day you missed.”
Her mother Barbara says she was shocked when she found out her daughter was skipping school.
“When I got the letter in the mail…that’s what got me,” explained Barbara Burns. “I blew up real bad; I’m not going to tell stories! It was a shock, especially from Rozaline – we don’t do that.”
According to the Texas Education Agency, the school district files a complaint in justice or Municipal court if the student “fails to attend school without excuse.” Truancy laws in Texas state that a student becomes truant with three or more unexcused absences in a four week period or 10 or more unexcused absences in a six-month period.
Truancy is something Munoz doesn’t tolerate in his courtroom.
“In life, all I want is for them to become good, productive citizens and they have to learn at a young age,” said Munoz.
In an effort to combat the problem, Judge Munoz intends on using a GPS tracking device to make sure the students are in school when they should be.
“We can text the device, we can call the device and the student can call and text us as well,” said Knox. “It also has GPS in it just like our phones do. And this is really an important tool and a small tool,” said Travis Knox, President of Aim Truancy.
Knox says the students are temporarily given the device that requires them to check in during preset intervals throughout the day; incluidng, when they leave for school in the morning, when they arrive at school, lunchtime and when they leave school. An adult coach and mentor also calls regularly to check up on the student to discuss their progress.
“The reason that makes this program so successful and sustainable is really the coach and mentor that is on the other end of the line that is working with these kids,” added Knox. “It’s all about support and communication.”
“I was shocked when they told me, I thought I was going to have to wear an ankle monitor, but this is good,” said Rozaline. “I’m not used to being on probation; I don’t ever want to do this again, especially after watching that video with kids going to jail.”
Burns is just one of hundreds of students using the tracking device across Texas. Munoz says 25 students at Bryan ISD are currently using this device.
“A lot of these kids don’t have parents to come home to and talk to, they don’t have support at home,” added Munoz. “This is the very reason they sometimes turn to gangs because they end up giving them the attention, so we want our students to graduate and get those diplomas and make something for themselves.”
“I’m just thankful my mom is here to support me,” added Rozaline.
“She is four of five kids, and I hope this teaches her a lesson; she’s a good kid and she knows we don’t tolerate this in our house,” said Barbara Burns.
Despite the tough economic times, Knox says the device ultimately pays for itself.
“We are performance based, so what were able to show the district’s is the attendance based revenue, were able to show by increasing the attendance, these students are more than paying for themselves to be in our program,” explained Knox. “If kids come to school, we share in that revenue, if they’re not coming to school, it’s not an expense.”
Bryan ISD has been using the program since 2007 and since its inception; the district has seen a 24 percent decrease in truancy. It’s an effort that Munoz says is proving to be a success and hopes these students will keep their head in the books and out of his courtroom.
His defense attorney has described the crimes as violent, sadistic and disgusting — and this week we’ve heard testimony from several victims, including two elderly women from Leon County, who claim they were burglarized and sexually assaulted in 2009 by the Twilight Rapist — a man who is pleading not guilty by insanity because he says he suffers from multiple personality disorder. The Leon County District Attorney believes those claims — are a bluff.
Underneath his dark brown suit and button-up shirt, you’ll find a belt wrapped around Billy Joe Harris’ torso. It’s not just any old belt — in fact, Alan Cohen, Harris’ defense attorney says it’s a belt filled with electricity and at the push of a button can send a shock that would render anyone helpless. The ‘stun belt’ is required for his client after several outbursts and physical disruptions he caused during his first trial in Edna, Texas in 2010.
Since the start of what has become his second trial, of potentially many more to come, Billy Joe Harris’ demeanor has been far from disruptive. In fact, the only movement is demonstrated as his head occasionally twitches and trembles; or if the shackled and chained convicted felon is being personally escorted out of the courtroom by security during recess.
As each victim took an oath of honesty before testifying, Harris appeared alert and attentive while sitting in a wooden chair. But that changed at 2:15 Wednesday as witness number 46 took the stand – Harris lowered his head and didn’t raise it back up until her 47 minute testimony was over.
Witness number 46 is more than just a number. She is an 82-year-old woman from Yoakum, Texas who dropped out of school in 7th grade to help her family earn money on their chicken farm. “Me and my mom, we had a whole lot of eggs to clean, 2,000 eggs at that, and we had to clean them really thoroughly,” she said.
Her whole life she’s taken care of people; growing up she took care of 28 children at a local nursery and as an adult, till this very day, she works for home healthcare, caring for the elderly. She admits she’s never ridden or driven a car in her life – but that all changed after the events that allegedly took place on November 9, 2009.
“He walked right through my front door like he owned the place, and I was just sitting at the edge of my couch and I just said, ‘Who are you, what do you want?’ He was wearing all black, with black gloves and he pushed me on the ground and I could hardly breathe. He was pushing on my rib cage so hard I thought they were going to crack; his hand was trembling and he forced my clothes off,” she recalled. “I asked him, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ and he said in a very menacing voice, ‘I like little old ladies.’ “
The woman moved several blocks away shortly after the alleged assault. But Harris allegedly found his way back to her new home two weeks later. “I woke up around 5 that morning to the sound of something rocking a chair, and he was in my room naked, and he said, ‘Remember me? Did you miss me?’ And I told him that my son was on his way and he was going to get caught, and he said ‘No, you’re lying, you don’t have no kids.’”
She didn’t have kids, nor was she ever married. But the victim admitted she would make up information during the alleged assault to distract him, but he would always correct her. “It was like he knew everything about me,” she said. “He knew where everything was in my house too, every single small detail.”
Questions surrounding the validity of Harris’ claims of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder surfaced after being convicted to life in prison in 2010. According to a testimony from a state psychiatrist Thursday, Harris never sought treatment for these medical conditions he claimed to have since the death of his dog in the early 1990’s.
The Leon County District Attorney asked the psychiatrist if it was common for inmates to fake illnesses or mental disorders in prison. He responded, “Yes – absolutely. They do this as a secondary gain; to get medication to help them sleep, to go to sky-view for air-conditioning, to avoid field work.”
The psychiatrist said Harris showed symptoms of depression, not schizophrenia. “If you take psychosis medication and you do not mentally need the medication, then the affects would make that person very calm, and sleepy.”
He said schizophrenia symptoms are distorted thoughts and hallucinations and usually start at a young age, “Typically in your early 20’s,” he said.
“In my experience, although not impossible, it is uncommon for an adult, age 40, to show symptoms of schizophrenia,” he said.
Harris’ defense attorney has argued his client’s condition was brought on during childhood after being exposed to pornography, bestiality as a teen, and child abuse.
In the Edna courtroom in 2010, Harris’ defense attorney said his client has at least four different personalities: “David the dog” is the personality who commits the crime; and “Bobby” is the mastermind.
Earlier this week during testimony from an 80-year-old Marquez victim, she claimed while Harris was sexually assaulting her, “I said to him, ‘Why are you doing this to me, I’m an old woman,’ and he said, ‘I know all about you, I’m Bobby Dawn, I’m 70-years-old and I live right behind you,’ and I just started screaming and fighting back,” she said. “I don’t have a neighbor named Bobby, and this man that was doing this to me, wasn’t 70-years-old.”
Prosecutors Question Harris’ Motive
Harris’ motive for these alleged crimes has been a significant debate during the trial in Walker County. During each alleged sexual assault, each victim claims he broke into their home twice in a two week period. The first time, they say, he would steal money, personal belongings such as deer-mounts, clocks, keys, computers, firearms, and checkbooks.
Those items, Texas Rangers say, were found inside Harris’ vehicle and many inside his Missouri City home where his wife and step-son lived.
The stolen items were strategically placed inside his home; an FBI agent who testified Wednesday said “Being able to see these items inside the home would conceivably be a reminder of the sexual assault,” the FBI agent said. “They get to relive the memories over and over again, so, in some cases, it’s not economic gain, rather fulfilling pride each time they see the victims’ belongings . The items resemble ‘trophies’ or ‘souvenirs’ to this individual.”
Investigators say dozens of keys to the homes of many of the victims were located inside a wooden box inside Harris’ home.
A Yoakum victim who claims Harris sexually assaulted her twice — on two different occasions — testified Wednesday saying Harris stole her entire life savings of $11,000. During a testimony later that day, Harris’ former roommate claimed he asked her to deposit three increments of $4,000 inside his bank account. The Leon County District Attorney asked her if she ever questioned how he got the money, and she replied, “He would never tell me, so I just did what he told me.”
The Yoakum victim says she never got her money back.
Trial will resume Monday. News 3’s Nicole Morten will bring you the latest information from the Twilight Rapist Trial.
He lived 200 -to-300 miles away from his alleged victims, but investigators say the distance didn’t stop the man –dubbed the Twilight Rapist — from carefully planning and executing home burglaries and sexual assaults 18 times in two years.
Billy Joe Harris is being tried in the Walker County Courthouse on charges of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit aggravated sexual assault of an elderly woman in Marquez, Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, all of the DNA evidence linked to Harris – about half of the total number of cases – was gathered from home invasions that occurred in 2009. Wednesday the courtroom heard testimony from two victims, a forensic scientist, and an agent from the FBI’s Behavioral Analyst Unit, as well as Harris’ former roommate.
The FBI agent who specializes in adult crimes described the profile his team created for the “Twilight Rapist.”
“Due to the nature and recognizance method of the home burglaries linked to the Twilight Rapist, we found that the suspect would be extremely organized; each burglary was carefully planned, he often cut phone lines and turned off electricity inside the homes before breaking in,” he said. “The suspect was confident and always conscious of reducing the risk of leaving any trace of his identity at the scene.”
The agent said after the sexual assault, many victims claim the man would draw a bath and demand them to clean up in front of him. “Victims say he would make them wash the sheets before he left.”
Rangers with the Texas Department of Public Safety say dozens of stolen items were recovered from Harris’ home in Missouri City – a home that was located roughly 200 miles away from the victims’ home.
“When you walked inside the two story house, you would find a large grandfather clock to the left and a shelf to the right – on one of the shelves you would find a wooden box filled with house keys,” said the DPS Ranger.
Those house keys, investigators say, were stolen from each victim during the burglary. A locksmith analyzed many of the sets and claimed one of them belonged to a Yoakum, Texas victim.
Firearms, check books, clocks, computers, a fur coat, two deer-mounts and a laptop computer were also found inside the home. Investigators say these stolen items strategically placed in Harris’ home, served as “souvenirs” or “trophies” from each victim.
“Being able to see the items inside his home would conceivably be a reminder of the sexual assault,” the FBI agent said. The deer-mount found in Harris’ garage belonged to an 80-year-old Marquez victim.
Another Yoakum, Texas victim testified Wednesday, she says she’s never driven or owned a car, a cell phone, or even bank account. “I walk everywhere I need to go,” said the victim.
The victim was very petite, shy and witty. She apologized to the courtroom for being what she called ’anxious’ as she recalled the day, she says, she met Billy Joe Harris.
“I was sitting on the front end of my couch and I heard scratching noises, but didn’t think anything since I had a few cats. But it wasn’t my cat. All of a sudden, in walks this man and he says, ‘Well, where is everyone?’ and I just looked at him and I said, ‘Who are you? What do you want?’ so I grabbed my purse and tried to head out the door.”
Prosecutors asked her why she grabbed her purse.
She replied, “Well, I had my entire life savings of $11,000 dollars in my purse and I didn’t want him to take it.”
Harris allegedly did – but the woman claims he sexually assaulted her before stealing the money.
She moved into an apartment near the police station shortly after the alleged attack in November 2009. A few weeks later, the victim says she woke up in the middle of the night and found Harris standing over her bed without any clothes on.
He said, ‘Remember me? Did you miss me?’ and I said, ‘I’m going to call the police’ and he said, ‘You go ahead and call, they’ll never find me.”
The woman says he sexually assaulted her a second time.
“I used to be calm, you know, I never thought things like this happen, now, the little things get me disturbed because…I know the feeling,” she said.
During this woman’s testimony Harris had his head down, almost as if he was sleeping. As soon as she left the stand, Harris lifted his head back up as his former roommate took to the witness stand.
We will hear more on her testimony of what it was like living with the man accused of sexually assaulting dozens of elderly women.
Already convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled woman in Edna, Texas, Billy Joe Harris — the man dubbed “the Twilight Rapist’ came face to face again Tuesday with the elderly victims he’s accused sexually assaulting in Leon County in 2009.
Harris is now being tried on charges of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony.
In 2010 Harris was arrested after sexually assault a disabled women in Edna, Texas. Authorities were alerted during the crime after the woman enabled her emergency-alert bracelet. He fled the scene, but was arrested a short time later. At the time of his arrest, Harris worked as a non-commissioned employee of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Rosharon. Since Harris didn’t have a criminal record, investigators say it was a challenge tracking down the man responsible for these crimes.
During the first trial in Edna in 2010, the jury gave Harris the highest punishment possible for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a disabled person. Judge Skipper Koetter with the Texas State District sentenced Harris to life in prison and fined him $10,000. While the Jackson County piece of the “Twilight Rapist” puzzle is finished, it’s just beginning for several other victims in Leon County.
Tuesday morning — Walker County Courthouse
Sitting next to his defense attorney Alan Cohen, while surrounded by security — an emotionless Billy Joe Harris — sat and stared Tuesday morning as each victim recalled the violent and painful memories of the day he sexually assaulted them inside their own home.
Investigators say each home burglary and sexual assault was carefully planned. They say often times he would learn the victims’ routine, their schedules and at times, cut wiring to landlines and turn off electricity.
The women were asked to provide background information to the courtroom, including what clubs and organizations they belonged to in junior high and high school, how many children they had, and additionally, explain daily routines they may have had up until the day they met Billy Joe Harris in 2009.
The first victim who testified Monday was an 80-year-old woman from Marquez, Texas. She was a cheerleader and also voted “Most Popular” in high school. In 1948 she got married and over the years, she and her husband had three boys; their children later married and had children of their own. She became a widow in 2006 — she never remarried — and has since lived alone. Since her husbands death, she told the courtroom about her daily routine of waking up before the sun rises every morning.
The second victim, an 82-year-old Yoakum, Texas resident testified Tuesday morning. The courtroom learned she was valedictorian of her high school class; she was voted most intelligent and married the man she claims won her heart, “with his blonde curly locks,” she said. They were married for more than 35 years. The alleged victim became a widow in 1984. She’s very involved in her community and walked to church almost every morning — a church she’s attended for 64 years.
How the Crimes Occurred
It is unclear how Harris, a Missouri City resident at the time, would pick each victim or how he kept what appears to be a “double life” a secret from his wife and his young step-son.
The courtroom also learned that both victims have what is called a “double cylinder deadbolt” on the doors they use as their main entry to their house. This type of deadbolt requires a key to lock and unlock from both the inside and outside of the door. Both women admit they always kept a key inserted in that deadbolt [on the inside of the home] should they ever need to rush out from the inside of their home during an emergency. Prosecutors allege these women also had premeditated crimes take place by Harris before as he would come back a second time.
Yoakum, Texas February 27, 2009
The victim’s home in Yoakum, Texas is three hours away (180 miles) from Harris’ home in Missouri City, Texas
Some time in February of 2009, a few weeks prior to the sexual assault, the victim says she was getting ready for church when the lights in her home suddenly went out. This happened on two separate days. The power company came out and repaired the problem, but found that someone intentionally tripped her breaker, causing the loss of electricity. Police were then called to the scene where they discovered forced entry marks in the panel of her front door. Investigators said the marks were consistent with that of someone trying to pry the door open with a jimmy.
Several weeks later, on February 27, just after 5:30 a.m., the victim would walk out of her front door to make her morning walk to church. When she opened the door, she found a man crouched down trying to pick the lock of her front door. Two years later investigators say that man was Harris. The alleged victim says Harris jumped up and pushed her back inside the home, tied her hands and forced her into her bedroom where the sexual assault allegedly occurred.
July 2, 2009 & July 20, 2009
The victim’s home in Marquez, Texas is three hours away (roughly 178 miles) from Harris’ home in Missouri City, Texas
Harris is accused of breaking into the 80-year-old Marquez victim’s home the first time on July 3, 2009. Detectives say he stole two deer-mounts, deer that were both shot by the victim’s husband.
Also taken, hundreds of dollars in cash, a tower computer and an address book.
Prosecutors say he would come back a second time on July 20, 2009 where h’s accused of beating her, and trying to sexually assault her.
Some 166 dollars were also taken.
Detectives say her phone lines were cut twice and the phone jacks were removed
While describing every detail of the terrifying assault, the victim said Harris slapped her across the face after she said she didn’t have any money. She also said Harris, claimed his name was “Bobby Dawn;” and he was 70-years-old and lived in the home behind her.
According to the Victoria Advocate in 2010, “Billy was so traumatized by Tommy (his brother) that he slept, lived and moved into the attic of a farmhouse,” Cohen, who described Harris’ crimes as violent, sadistic and disgusting, told jurors. “It was a fortress of isolation.”
Cohen said two other personalities were identified by the two doctors who examined Harris – David the dog, who committed the crime, and Bobby, the mastermind. “Bobby” is the same name Harris gave to the 80-year-old Marquez victim during the sexual assault.
Officially named associative disorder syndrome, Cohen contended Harris’ condition was brought about by watching and participating in pornography, including taking part in bestiality with a dog, as a teenager, as well as a fear of his older brother.
January 8, 2011 — Day of Arrest
After Harris was arrested in Edge, investigators found the Marquez victim’s address book inside the trunk of Harris’ vehicle. A search warrant was then issued for Harris’ home in Missouri City.
During many of the home invasions, Harris would steal computers, clocks, deer-mounts, and other personal belongings from each victim. On Tuesday the courtroom heard testimony that Harris would take these stolen items and display them inside his home where his wife and young step-son lived. A Texas Ranger out of Galveston testified Tuesday afternoon and said he said he went to Harris’ home and spoke with Harris’ wife shortly after the arrest.
“When I walked into Harris’ home all I could hear was the sound of clocks ticking; they were ticking and chiming even in neighboring rooms. He had crystal clocks hanging on the walls in the living room, a laptop computer was sitting on the kitchen table and in the garage he had two deer-mounts. I asked his wife if Billy had shot the deer himself and she claimed Harris had the items before they married the year before,” the Ranger said. “His wife seemed shocked to hear that her husband was being accused of the crimes I informed her about. Her son was upstairs playing video games when I came over. I asked her if I could take the items to Houston to be examined as evidence and she said it was fine.”
Those items were confiscated and taken to the Texas Department of Public Safety office in Houston as evidence. The deer-mounts located inside Harris’ garage were allegedly stolen from the 80-year-old Marquez victim’s home in 2009.
Reaction inside Walker County Court Tuesday
It took nearly two years for many of the victims to find out who the man was that is accused of forever changing their lives.
“Not knowing who the man was that did this to my mom made our lives a living hell,” said a family member of the Leon County victim. “I can’t express how drastic this crime changed her life. She doesn’t drive anymore or go out after dark, and she can’t attend the kiddos baseball games’ anymore.”
“I told the jury in Edna that I wasn’t going to let this ruin my life,” said the Yoakum victim during testimony. “With the support from my family and friends, I just gritted my teeth and installed a security system, put up a fence and now I don’t walk to church anymore, the church that’s just a block away from my home.”
The trial was moved to Huntsville after the defense requested a change of venue because it was believed that a fair or impartial jury might not be available in Leon County. The motion was granted, but the defense has elected to waive the right to a trial by jury and have District Judge Ken Keeling decide Harris’ fate. Harris has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The trial will resume on Wednesday. Harris is set to testify sometime before next Wednesday. News 3′s Nicole Morten will continue bringing the latest from the Twilight Rapist Trial.
(Source: Texas DPS)
January 21, 2009: Home invasion, rape in Yoakum
February 27, 2009: Home invasion, rape in Yoakum *DNA
July 3, 2009: Home burglary in Marquez (evidence recovered)
July 20, 2009: Home invasion, rape Marquez *DNA
August 14, 2009: Home invasion, rape Zabcikville (evidence recovered)
August 2009: Home burglary in Falls County
September 5, 2009: Home invasion and assault Marquez
September 11, 2009: Home invasion, assault Bell County *DNA
October 10, 2009: Home invasion, rape Falls County *DNA
October 24, 2009: Home invasion, assault, Centerville
November 9, 2009: Home invasion, assault Yoakum *DNA
November 24, 2009: Attempted home burglary Yoakum
November 24, 2009: Home invasion, fondling, Luling
December 24, 2009: Home burglary in Moody (evidence recovered)
March 1, 2010: Home invasion, assault, Moody
December 4, 2010: Home burglary in Edna (evidence recovered)
January 8, 2011: Attempted burglary Yoakum
January 8, 2011: Home invasion, rape Edna *DNA (arrest)