An Open But Shut Case

Paul Beauchamp's death was ruled a homicide. So why isn't the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office investigating?

"I know that we did a ballistic test on the weapon, and it was inconclusive, just like the test the Department of Public Safety did on it," said the sheriff, who also maintained the pond was thoroughly searched.

And despite the new ruling of homicide, Williams indicated that he had no intention of reopening the investigation into the death of Paul Beauchamp. The sentiments of Williams and his investigators were perhaps best summed up by a statement made by Detective Frank Hidalgo -- the sheriff's office's lead investigator in the case -- during his videotaped interview of Beauchamp's co-worker, Bryan Wilson, two months after Paul's death.

"He's dead, and the Beauchamps will never, never have the answers they want," Hidalgo told Wilson, adding that, "the medical examiner's report speaks for itself."

After the report was changed, the Beauchamps couldn't agree more. Unfortunately for them, almost a year and a half later, all they have to show for their efforts is a piece of paper that says their son's death was a homicide and, except for Edie Connelly, no evidence of anyone who cares. But that could soon change.

In May of last year, Alfred Beauchamp received a letter from Assistant State Attorney General Mac Cobb. In the letter, Cobb informed Alfred that Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly had requested the assistance of the attorney general's office in the investigation of Paul's death.

"The available file material has been reviewed by attorneys and investigators in this office," wrote Cobb, "and plans for additional interviews and examination of the physical evidence are now being made." However, Cobb warned, "the methods we must use in reviewing a case such as this take time."

According to Connelly, it was her understanding the state probe into Paul's death was to have begun by the end of last October. But the fall and winter came and went, and the promised investigation by the office of Attorney General Dan Morales failed to materialize. Connelly began to fear that the AG's interest in the case was nothing more than lip service. On April 7, 1998, Connelly sent a letter to Cobb inquiring if the attorney general's office was genuinely interested in the Beauchamp case.

"When we last spoke, I understood that you would be coming to Montgomery County shortly after the first of the year," wrote the JP. "Do you know if the Attorney General's Office still has interest in this case?"

Two months passed and Connelly heard nothing. However, in June, three investigators from the attorney general's office met with three of the four pathologists who performed the second autopsy of Paul Beauchamp. According to one of the participants, who asked not to be identified, the attorney general's representatives entered the meeting seemingly prepared to explain why they could find no reason to spend time investigating the Beauchamp case. Three and a half hours later, they had changed their minds. A source in the attorney general's office recently confirmed to the Press that a state probe of Beauchamp's death is imminent.

This past March, with the investigation of his son's death at a standstill, Alfred Beauchamp arranged a brief meeting with Congressman Kevin Brady, whose district includes Montgomery County. Afterward, Alfred, a clearly physically exhausted and emotionally spent man, sent Brady an impassioned follow-up letter.

"I have explored every avenue open to me under the local and state level to have my son Paul's murder properly investigated and the killer brought to justice, but I have been unsuccessful in that endeavor," wrote Beauchamp. "Paul's voice literally cries out from the grave, saying, 'Who will speak for me, who will give me justice?' "

Contact Steve McVicker at steve_mcvicker@

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