The Odd Couple

When a veteran juvenile probation supervisor took a teenage former detainee as her live-in companion, you'd have thought authorities would be interested. They weren't.

"…I wasn't really thinking like, yeah, I'm going to move in with this lady," Terry says. "But you know, when I got home and saw how it was going to be, I was like, well, I might as well give my mama a lift off her shoulders."

McDuffie was alarmed by the implications of a probation supervisor living with a juvenile who was being handled by the agency. "He's still considered a child, and for her to have some kind of relationship with him is appalling. She had been there a pretty good while, and everybody has a tendency to cover up everything."

Terry's mother says she initially accepted Deen's assurances that her role with the boy was professional and legitimate. After a while, males in her family weren't so sure.

Former Burnett-Bayland head Linda Crocker promoted Deen but soon saw troubling signs.
Troy Fields
Former Burnett-Bayland head Linda Crocker promoted Deen but soon saw troubling signs.
In resigning as an agency supervisor, Deen declared herself "a rebel with a cause."
Deron Neblett
In resigning as an agency supervisor, Deen declared herself "a rebel with a cause."

"For a long time I took it as her being a mentor to him," recalls Williams. "…As far as me seeing anything, no, I have never seen them in a girlfriend-boyfriend way. But my oldest son and my future husband talked to him, and there were times when I would ask them, 'What do you really think is going on?' "

She recalls that Terry once told her he was "confused" by the relationship, but that Deen was giving him gifts and a style of living that his relatives could not.

"Maybe I want to block it out of my mind," says his mother. "I don't want to picture Ms. Deen as a bad person. And the only way I would truly accept it is she would have to come out and admit to me, 'Yes, I was having a relationship with your son.' "

According to the youth, the sex came soon after he began living with the woman.

"One night we were messing around, and we were drinking over there, and I fucked her," he says matter-of-factly. "And it was just funny to me, but I was still okay, she was still nice to me. She was saying everything's still the same, I don't have to be with her if I don't want to, but she just wanted to be there for me and all this."

However, as domestic partners, their relationship would soon turn volatile.

Rumors had been rampant within the juvenile probation ranks about an affair between the supervisor and the youth. Reports of something seriously wrong came last January 14, when agency worker Laura Powell fielded a phone call from Terry's father. His son, he told her, had shown up at a family gathering the previous weekend driving Deen's car -- even though he didn't have a license.

And, the father stated bluntly, Terry and Deen were having sexual relations.

The following day, the father called again with more direct and damning information: Terry had taken Deen's service revolver to the family gathering and pulled the gun, pointing it at his father and threatening him.

According to a memo compiled by Powell, the father stated he "wanted help for his son because someone will kill him if he continues with this madness."

Terry says the trouble stemmed from Deen's rage when she found out he was seeing girls on the side.

"She caught me one day messing and she get mad and she just blow up. First she just start crying and I try to go to her and she blows up, like don't touch her," Terry says. "She's hitting on me and shit, and then one day I just hit her back. And ever since then, she just really want to fight."

The age difference escalated the problems.

"I told her I'm still young, and I'm going to still go out and play," says Terry. "I didn't say I was going to be messing with other girls or whatever, or like that, because I respect her. But still you can't be wanting me to just stay in the house every day, every day."

Terry also admitted to the Press that Deen hadn't known he took her gun.

"She didn't give me permission to go get the gun and get in the car and go over there and pull it on my daddy. That was on me," he says. "But I really wasn't pulling it on my daddy." Terry insists that his father was roughhousing with him and put him in a headlock. "And it was like instinct, and I just pulled it out 'cause I had it on me."

Juvenile probation officer Powell heard the father's complaints and notified administrators Debbie Williams and Bernard Hunter. But there is no indication in Deen's personnel file that any action was taken then to investigate the information.

About three months later, another emergency call came in -- this time it was Deen, telling police that Terry was threatening to kill her unless she gave him her revolver and car keys.

Houston police officers Matthew Hong and Armando Alaniz arrived at Deen's Burdine Street town house and saw the couple fighting. They declined to be interviewed by the Press, but HPD spokesman John Cannon says Deen portrayed herself as a do-gooder who had taken in the boy as a favor to his mother. She claimed he burned her with a cigarette during the altercation, although the officers found no serious injuries.

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