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"A gun was underneath the counter," recalls Berry. "The girl was connected to all this, and that's how we found out about it and what was going on. He had set up the burglary and made it look like someone was breaking in. It was actually an inside job because the windows or doors had been left unlocked."
Although the district attorney wanted Wehmer's probation revoked, Judge Holland chose to release him with the three five-year probations. It was a leniency Berry does not understand to this day.
"We had pled [the sexual assault case] because the girl was going to be so difficult, and we wanted him on probation so we could watch him, hopefully to keep him away from her."
A source says that during a stay in Collin County jail after one of his arrests, Wehmer became a minister in the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California, an organization that sells ministries through the mail. A church spokeswoman says Wehmer was ordained in June 1996.
According to Berry, Wehmer does not come across, at least to the unsmitten, as a minister or a knight in shining armor.
"He was gross, missing one or two fingers. How could that kid be attracted to him? Good-looking? God, no."
Wehmer moved to the Wimberley area in 1997, where he registered with the Hays County sheriff and adult probation. He reportedly stayed at local resorts during the off-season. Because of his status as a sex offender, Wehmer was prohibited from staying in a residence where children were present.
He apparently met Whitmire in Wimberley and moved to the Austin area last year, where they purchased the Del Valle property and he started an appraisal business. An investigator with the Texas Appraiser Licensing Board confirms the agency is investigating Wehmer's license, though he declined to discuss the specifics.
Wehmer's probation on his three felonies is set to expire June 25.
Told that Wehmer is now associated with a prominent Houston woman with a law-enforcement connection, Berry sounded amazed and concerned for Whitmire. According to her, the Wehmer she prosecuted was an unconscionable exploiter of women, young and older.
"He had this kid brainwashed, basically. He convinced her that he really loved her, and all he was doing was just using her," says Berry, who believes that Wehmer similarly exploited grown women.
"He goes from one extreme to another," says the prosecutor. Told the Press was researching a story about Wehmer's background, she exclaimed, "More power to you. He's a slimeball."
Make an early New Year's resolution to relay your news tips to the Insider. Call him at (713)280-2483, fax him at (713)280-2496, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.By Tim Fleck