Texas Crimes of the Year, 2012
Check out all 10 Crimes of the Year mugshots in our slideshow.
In ordering the past year's multitude of mayhem, madness and overall malarkey here in the Lone Star State, we struggled to come up with a theme, a spine to link all the various stories we encountered. Should we connect them by type of crime? Or maybe we could construct some sort of narrative out of a chronological recounting of the year's weirdest crimes.
In the end, those frameworks seemed either falsely pat or overly complicated. And even though I have spent the last three years here at the Houston Press pondering all manner of sin, in comparison to the hellfire-and-damnation theologians of the Middle Ages Roman Catholic Church, I was but an ignorant child. Those dudes took themselves off to caves with a little bread and wine and fixated on sin, sin and more sin for years on end.
So it was best to defer to their concept of the Seven Deadly Sins in constructing this article, and I found that the Holy Fathers were on the money often as not. You really can trace back virtually all of the year's most spectacular weird crimes to one or more of the Seven Deadlies.
And away we go to the parade of the lustful, wrathful, greedy, envious, prideful, slothful and gluttonous...
The ancients broke Lust down into categories, and no less an authority than St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that one sinful subset was "copulation with a thing of undue species, and this is called 'bestiality.'" The year began and closed with two notable cases, both in the Rio Grande Valley.
In January, 41-year-old Cirilo Castillo Jr. of rural Hidalgo County was arraigned on two counts of trespassing and two counts of animal cruelty after a local rancher secretly videotaped Castillo having sex with one of her mares. The tape she gave cops allegedly shows Castillo entering her barn without permission, securing the mare to a fence and then lashing its legs together, presumably to prevent a swift kick in the nuts. (We can but hope that was a lesson Castillo had to learn by painful experience.) And then Castillo is reportedly seen dropping his pants and having sex with the mare. Both horses were asked if the sex had been consensual, and each replied with a "Neigh."
In November, news broke of another Hidalgo County case of copulation with a thing of undue species. This time a dog was the victim. A man in San Juan woke one morning, looked out his window and allegedly saw 54-year-old Jose Angel Hernandez molesting his pooch.
"It's something that you really can't imagine. I see my neighbor out there with his pants down — molesting my dog. I wasn't prepared to see that that morning," the man said.
Is that something anyone is ever truly prepared to see, morning, noon or night?
Hernandez was arrested and charged with public lewdness, his second sex-related crime that year after an indecent exposure charge in February. Neighbors want him put away for a long stretch, but local police say there's not a whole lot they can do until he whips it out again or treats another dog as man's best friend with benefits. "He's already been accused of two sexual acts," said San Juan policeman Rudy Luna . "One was where he exposed himself and now this...with the neighbor's dog. It will come to the point where the offenses will be upgraded."
Moving on to more species-normative forms of lust, 2012 had the über-salacious criminal trial of now-former Kennedale High School English teacher and sports coach Brittni Colleps. Among other sexcapades, the married mother of three was videotaped taking on not one, not two, not three but four of her students while her husband was away serving in the military.
Colleps was convicted of 16 counts of having improper relationships with students, all of whom were 18 years old. (Under Texas law, a school employee cannot have sex with any student, no matter their age.) Despite pleas for leniency from three of the students she had sex with, and from her husband, who admitted to participating in orgies with his wife every now and then, Colleps was sent to prison for five years.
But Angela Buchanan, a 30-year-old Lufkin woman smitten with "Shelley," a 51-year-old lady, absolutely took the cake.
Buchanan and Shelley had been messaging each other for the past seven years via Yahoo!, during which time Buchanan claimed to have survived breast cancer in 2008 and to have had twins via in vitro fertilization while living with a former girlfriend.
According to an Angelina County arrest affidavit, in March, Buchanan started contacting Shelley through a second Yahoo! account. On that account, Buchanan posed as "Doc," a Lufkin gynecologist with whom Buchanan claimed to have a mother-daughter friendship.(So, Doc and Buchanan were the same person messaging Shelley with two different Yahoo! accounts. Got it?)
Doc told Shelley that Buchanan had a precancerous mass in her breast and that the best way to treat that mass was for Shelly to have sex with Buchanan. The hot action would spike Buchanan's natural hormone levels and save her life, Doc claimed.
Shelley later told police she had religious qualms over the relationship at first, but soon overcame them. After all, a life was at stake. Under the online supervision of "Doc," Shelley and Buchanan started having sex regularly.
And now the story gets really weird...
Buchanan pretended to check in with Doc for weekly blood draws, and Doc would message the results. Doc would also "prescribe" the frequency, nature and duration of the sexual healing regimen. Shelley suspected that this might not be enough to save Buchanan, so she advised her lover to go in for a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Buchanan agreed and the two women went together. After the procedure was done, Shelley asked the surgeon about the lump. The befuddled doctor told her that all he'd done to Buchanan's breasts was augment them.
Shelley hastened to a computer to get some answers from Doc, and was told that the surgeon had performed the procedure "under the table" and had to lie because cameras were watching in the waiting room. Shelley bought that, and Buchanan's next whopper, too.
Throughout June and July, Buchanan said that she was embroiled in a custody battle over her twins and that it would really help her cause if she and Shelley could travel to a same-sex marriage state and tie the knot. In August, they whisked off to Massachusetts and did just that.
Around that time, Shelley's daughter started voicing suspicions that Buchanan and Doc were one and the same, and she eventually won her mom around. Shelley contacted Buchanan's ex, who told her that there had been no breast cancer in 2008, nor was there a custody battle. The woman then called the real Doc, and that was when police got involved.
Buchanan has reportedly confessed, saying she had to resort to such elaborate tactics because it was the only way she could have bedded and wedded Shelley. Because the Doc persona was based on a real person, Buchanan has been charged with online impersonation, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in county jail. Which is a lot less than what Dante prescribed for lusters; in his Inferno, the punishment was an eternity sizzling in fire and brimstone.
We've gotten a lot more forgiving since Dante's day. When Felicia Moon, the ex-wife of Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon, was arrested early in 2012 near Hockley for having public sex in an open field with her boyfriend while camping out on a rodeo-time trail ride, trail boss Nannie Francies delivered the following dispensation.
"Well, they were out on the field, so whatever," Francies said. "I don't see it as a big deal. When people go out on the trail, people tend to do what they want to do."
This is another easy sin for us to grasp, at least in its most obvious incarnation — overconsumption of food and drink. But the old-timers also believed that one person's pigging out and getting drunk hindered the poor from eating or drinking at all. Thus, gluttons embodied selfishness in the medieval mind, and the sin included all manner of self-centeredness.
In Texas this year, there were a few interesting examples of blatant and weird gluttony, such as the two Beaumont women who got into a fight over fried shrimp that ended with both of them suffering non-fatal bullet wounds. There were the many and varied Randy Travis honky-tonkin' public drunkenness episodes, ranging from the Baptist church parking lot incident to the lying-in-the-road nekkid debacle to the fistfight outside a second Dallas-area church. Two other ravenous drinkers gave us mugshots for the ages. (See photos.) There was Michael Don Mitchell, a Longview burglar undone by his love for Chef Boyardee: After he helped himself to a can of ravioli in his victim's kitchen, police found him minutes later with, in the words of his arresting officer, "red spaghetti sauce around his lips and mouth" that was "consistent with the sauce used in Chef Boyardee raviolis."
And there was Crystal Marie Mosquera, who allegedly tried to walk out of a College Station Walmart without paying for a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade, an 18-pack of Bud Light Lime, a 12-pack of Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, and six-packs each of Twisted Tea, Smirnoff Ice, Smirnoff Ice Cherry Lime, Smirnoff Cranberry & Lime, Smirnoff Screwdriver and Smirnoff Blueberry & Lemonade. Mosquera also reportedly helped herself to a dozen packages of various daiquiri and hard-lemonade mixes. And then there was the ice cream, oodles and oodles of ice cream: a box each of Breyer's S'mores and fudge bars, and numerous boxes of Twix, Snickers and Milky Way ice cream bars.
Also in her shopping cart: a single cucumber, possibly adding the Lust sub-sin of self-abuse to the mix.
But the king of Texas gluttons last year was Waco's Michael Daniel. On June 14, while reportedly high on K-2, Daniel allegedly assaulted a group of people in his home, chased a neighbor while barking and growling, and then beat and strangled the family dog and ate the poor little creature alive. Police later found Daniel "on a front porch with blood smeared on his face and clothes."
Dante's punishment for gluttons: a perpetual force-feeding of frogs, toads and snakes. That seems a little harsh for some of these folks, but not tough enough for Michael Daniel, who might enjoy a meal like that. Especially after a few hits of K-2.
Holyspiritinteractive.com has a threefold definition of Greed: an obsessive desire for ever more material goods and their attendant power; a fearful need to store up surplus goods for a vaguely defined time of want (Hoarders, Preppers and Mormons — you are all gonna burn); and a desire for more earthly goods for their own sake.
And as Austin nightlife legend Eddie Wilson once said, "Greed never sleeps," and Texas in 2012 was no exception. German Ramos, 36, and Kendrick Ferguson, 33 , both uniformed Houston cops, tried to rob a drug dealer. That plan went awry when the dealer was revealed to be a pawn in an HPD internal-affairs sting. The two cops and an accomplice now face 15 to 99 years in prison.
Richard Cano, another greedy cop (this one on the HISD force), was charged with fraud after federal prosecutors accused him of conspiring with tow-truck companies to illicitly impound vehicles and then split the fees with the wrecker-drivers. Cano, 46 and an 18-year veteran, faces charges of extortion under color of official right and could get up to 20 years behind bars.
Two Walmart-related incidents this year featured greed enhanced by stupidity.
This fall, Abilene's 52-year-old William Keltner devised a cunningly ingenious plan to obtain a cut-rate TV from a West Texas Wally World. He would grab a $228 set, replace the barcode with one reading $1.17 and then purchase the TV at a self-checkout line. With no pesky employees to call for a price check on aisle nine, what could go wrong? Just as Keltner was probably wondering why nobody had ever thought of his bold scheme before, he was collared by Walmart security and taken to the store office, and later arrested.
A more grievous and still dumber sin was allegedly committed by former Walmart employee Buddy Olvera. The Pasadena man allegedly helped himself to a customer's debit card he found in a wallet mislaid in the store's parking lot and went on a buying spree. That's bad enough, but Olvera chose to compound wickedness with stupidity by using the card at the very same store at which he was employed, blithely ignoring what he must have known full well: that not even the Eye of Sauron takes in more of what goes on around Mordor than Walmart's security cams take in around them. Confronted with what must be a documentary-length DVD of video evidence, Olvera has reportedly confessed, though he has yet to be convicted.
Higher up the socioeconomic ladder, all the way up in one-percenter territory, 2012 saw multiple convictions and sentencings in the Allen Stanford debacle. Stanford himself was handed a bracing 110-year term for perpetrating his $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Dante wrote that the greedy were dipped in pots of boiling oil face down and remained there for eternity, so Stanford should count himself lucky. As should the many Wall Street bankers whose day of reckoning has yet to come, and may never.
Old-timers defined Sloth as both underachieving in general and standing idly by while evil was done. It was also seen as something of a catch-all sin for people who did not do what they were supposed to do, as opposed to people who did things they shouldn't do, a mortal sin of omission rather than commission.
As such, terrible parents fall in the sloth box, and Texas abounded with absolutely horrendous moms and dads. There was the Catt family — a father who reportedly took his twentysomething son and teenage daughter along on several bank heists in several states, for example.
Still worse was 34-year-old Torina Ann Gutierrez of Del Valle, just outside Austin. Gutierrez's six-year-old daughter reportedly ate a sandwich that had somehow become tainted with PCP at mom's house, and the poor girl was at school complaining of "banging in her head" and feeling "crazy and dizzy," all because of that sandwich she described as tasting like "fireworks."
It's open for debate, but you could make a case for Houston's Stephanie Irene Santana as 2012's worst Texas parent. According to police reports this summer, the 20-year-old left her one-year-old baby in the car while she tried to get a body piercing at a North Freeway tattoo parlor at three in the morning.
And did we mention? She had driven there drunk. While seven months pregnant. And under legal drinking age. And on probation. And then when police arrived, they found some Xanax, in a car strewn with empty and half-full bottles of Corona. In her child's diaper bag.
But the purest example of the medieval conception of sin came from a case handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The feds claimed that Demi Mishel Muniz, 33, and Luis Aceituno, 26, were transporting illegal immigrants in a van from Houston to Los Angeles when one of the illegals fell ill.
Muniz reportedly called the man's wife twice. First, she wanted to make sure that the man's wife had deposited $650 in Muniz's account. Later, she called again to say that the man had become sick. The man's wife told Muniz that he was an insulin-dependent diabetic and would need treatment. Muniz had other plans. She said she would drop the man off near Amarillo.
"Muniz allegedly stated that she could not help him because she had other people in the van and needed to keep moving," prosecutors said.
Days after the phone conversation, the man was found dead in a ditch near the Panhandle hamlet of Vega. An autopsy concluded that he had died from lobar pneumonia. Prosecutors said that the man would have survived had he received timely medical treatment.
Say what you will about Muniz, but you can't call her greedy. She told the man's wife that since her husband didn't make it to Los Angeles, she was willing to waive the $650 fee.
Muniz and Aceituno could get life in prison, but once again, that beats Dante's punishment for the slothful: a good old-fashioned casting into a snake pit.
According to a modern scholarly definition, Envy "occurs when a person lacks another's perceived superior quality, achievement or possession and wishes that the other lacked it."
The envious, in short, are haters, and the Hater Parade continued unabated in 2012.
We're not sure about the exact source of the feud between 26-year-old Heather Hodges and the 13-year-old son of her live-in boyfriend, but one could possibly surmise that Hodges was envious of her man's affection for his son. At any rate, Hodges allegedly concocted a most devious revenge plot: Police say she tucked a pistol into the boy's backpack, sent him to school with it and then phoned in an anonymous tip to the principal's office. The boy endured hours of interrogation, at the end of which he was finally taken at his word — he'd never known about the gun. Police later traced the phone call to a nearby convenience store pay-phone. Hodges was seen phoning in the phony threat on the store's security cam, and confessed to phoning in the tip after she was confronted with the evidence.
Houston's Hugo Bethancourt reportedly thought his stepfather led an overly charmed life. What better way to blemish it than to kick the stepfather's dog Mimi to death and then torch the home he shared with Bethancourt's mom?
Arson investigators reported that the trouble began in August, when Bethancourt's mom found Mimi dead in the home. The stepfather then called Bethancourt, who proudly admitted the killing. "When asked why, Hugo told [the stepfather] his life was too perfect and that he wanted him to go through the same kind of hell that Hugo went through," reads Bethancourt's arrest affidavit.
The stepfather fled the city and told the mom to hide out at a friend's house. While en route to his sanctuary, the stepfather talked to Bethancourt on the phone. He told Bethancourt that "he wanted him out of his house because he was tired of his violence." Hugo reportedly told the stepfather then that he was going to "mess up his house" while he was away. Right on cue, the stepfather heard his home's alarm shriek in the background. Investigators later found that two bedrooms had been deliberately torched in the home. Bethancourt is free on bond and facing a felony arson charge. The killing of Mimi will apparently go unpunished.
And then there was Uriel Landeros, quite literally a textbook embodiment of Envy. Landeros, you'll recall, is the 22-year-old "artist" who defaced a Picasso at the Menil earlier this year. And then ran away, all while spouting a torrent of inane bullshit about how he had done it all for the "underdogs of the world." Inevitably, a local gallery hosted a showing of Landeros's "works," and both The New York Times and Huffington Post took note in the days leading up to the event. Once Landeros's art was revealed, critics were not kind. Robert Boyd of art blog The Great God Pan Is Dead called the exhibit "a damp squib," and went on to assail Landeros's art as "inept, derivative and juvenile" and "utterly feeble and passé" in its attempt to shock.
"It comes across as completely ersatz, faintly echoing superior artists who outraged (and challenged) public sensibilities — artists that I seriously doubt Landeros has ever heard of," Boyd continued. "If he had, he would have been ashamed to show second-rate students work publicly."
What was that about Envy being the lack of "another's perceived superior quality, achievement or possession and wish[ing] that the other lacked it"?
Uriel Landeros — that sin is you.
Dante believed the envious would have their eyes sewn shut with wire because they had taken pleasure at the downfall of another. Seems less than sufficient for Landeros, whose mouth could also use a stitching. (He is still hiding out, possibly in Mexico.)
Texas abounded with cases of Wrath, which Saint Basil once defined as "reprehensible temporary madness."
In October, an Abilene tween reportedly mocked 65-year-old Linda Hall Jones near the ice machine at a local Rodeway Inn. Hall allegedly returned to her nearby room for the proverbial can of whoop-ass — which took the form of pepper-spray, and the 12-year-old mocked no more that night. Jones was charged with assault causing bodily injury.
Not one but two Texans temporarily lost their noses in fights this year. In March, a 24-year-old Trinity, Texas, man was arrested after he reportedly chomped off every part of his 18-year-old roommate's nose that was not made of bone. The victim had rallied to the defense of his sister — Lance Taylor's girlfriend — who was arguing with Taylor over money and a car. The mangled nose was recovered and it was sent along with the victim to a Tyler emergency room, where doctors were able to reattach it. Taylor faces a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily harm.
Six months later in Spring Branch, there was a similarly horrific fight, one that also involved a couple and a sibling and a severed snout.
After a long night in the clubs back in July, Ivon Rodriguez, her sister Lluvia and Lluvia's husband returned to their apartment. There, according to an HPD affidavit, an altercation ensued, with Lluvia and her husband the initial combatants. Ivon attempted to intervene, but Lluvia did not take kindly to Ivon's peacemaking. First Lluvia bit Ivon's arm.
And then...We'll let Officer M.M. Wallace, investigator in the Special Crimes Unit, Family Violence Division, speak for himself. "The Defendant then bit the Complainant's nose off, severing it and detaching her nose from her face, causing pain and serious bodily injury."
Yes, that might smart a wee bit.
Ivon and her nose were rushed to Ben Taub, where the crack emergency room doctors were able to put it back where it belonged. Lluvia Rodriguez, 29, was charged with aggravated assault of a family member, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
But Montgomery County's Robin Alyse Scott was this year's Wrath Queen. According to published reports, the 21-year-old was driving through rural MoCo and got involved in a road-rage incident with another woman, one who had several children with her in her car. That woman said Scott was tailgating her and honking at her, and finally rear-ended her.
The woman managed to put some distance between her car and Scott's, but Scott sped up and found her again. Unfortunately for Scott, by this time an off-duty Harris County Sheriff's deputy was on the scene. He apparently got Scott to pull over, but as he approached her car, Scott hit the gas and allegedly ran over the cop's foot in the process.
Scott then abandoned that car, took off on foot and tried to commandeer a friend's car before getting caught again. Scott reportedly flunked some field-sobriety tests, but as is already plain, this is not the sort of woman who is willing to go gently into that good jail. It took no fewer than four cops to cuff-and-stuff the snarling hellcat, who was reportedly kicking and screaming curse words all the while.
Left in a squad car while cops took witness statements, Scott quieted down for a short while. And then she started up again with the kicking and screaming, punctuated with one final insult of another sort.
She pissed all over the back seat of the car, "almost as if she was taunting deputies," according to the Montgomery County Police Reporter.
In some cases, theologians believed anger was justified, and no Texan exemplifed the duality of sinful and righteous rage better than Brian Kerstetter, a 33-year-old thug with multiple convictions for violent crimes.
In his most recent case, Kerstetter was convicted of a federal hate crime after he and a few accomplices beat up a black man at a downtown Houston bus stop in 2011. That act pretty much epitomizes the Deadly Sin of Wrath. In asking the court for leniency (fruitlessly, we are pleased to add), Kerstetter did offer up an example of righteous hatred.
Despite his rap sheet and a bevy of white-power tats, Kerstetter tried to portray himself as a veritable Gandhi. "I'm not a hater," he told judge Kenneth Hoyt. "The only thing I truly hate in this world is the Dallas Cowboys."
Well said, Mr. Kerstetter, well said indeed. Still, even coupled with his apology to the court, it wasn't enough to stop the judge from giving him a stiff 77-month sentence. (Maybe Judge Hoyt is a Cowboy fan.)
Still, Kerstetter should count himself lucky he was not in Dante's circle of hell. There, the wrathful were dismembered alive again and again.
Pride was believed to be the worst of the Seven Deadlies, the font from which all others sprang. Indeed, Hell itself was founded by Lucifer, once God's most beloved angel, and he landed there because of his own excessive Pride.
In Texas 2012, Pride wenteth before the following falls...
After getting arrested for aggravated assault of a family member, Arlon Wayne Hough posed for his mugshot in a shirt reading "This is what a GREAT FATHER looks like."
Convicted Waco murderer John Carl Arabie was angered when the judge refused to allow him to wear a full-length rabbit-fur pimp coat to his sentencing.
Booked into jail yet again, frequent Trinity County ne'er-do-well Jonathan Thompson had an awkward moment explaining his latest tat, one that taunted the chief county constable thusly: "Woody Wallace Can Suck My Dick."
Another Trinity County man, 27-year-old Justin Everett Rowe, couldn't resist taunting the local constabulary in an even more asinine and criminal way. Police there say a drunken Rowe keyed a patrol car at a county fair while the deputy was still inside it, thus earning himself a quick collar and a state-jail felony charge of criminal mischief.
Ultimately, though, 2012 was the year Texas criminals learned to boastfully incriminate themselves on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in new and exciting ways.
Take Spring's Lindsay Ann Grice. After her arrest in connection with a north Harris County meth fire, her LinkedIn profile came to light, one in which she described herself as a "Chemicals Professional" and "Baller at Self-Employed," who was up for everything from "consulting offers" and "new ventures" to "expertise requests" and "business deals."
Then there were College Station lovebirds Gina Noel Wilfong and Joseph Woods Smith. Two weeks after her arrest for vandalizing her ex-boyfriend's Jeep, the following rants were still up on Wilfong's Facebook page. (She did have the sense to use an alias: Lily Anderson.):
Wilfong/Anderson: "Smashed the rear-view on David's brand-new Jeep he pissed me off and was talking shit about me online...He messed with the wrong pussy-cat."
Smith: Haha I love you babe! You go girl!
Smith: Breaking glass is an awesome stress reliever
Wilfong/Anderson: Fucking little prick show him whos boss
Wilfong/Anderson: Dont fuck with me
Smith: Yeah you did! What a great night spent together
Bryan cops were already on her trail when that Facebragging idiocy hit the Net, and it was duly handed over to the cops by the ex. Wilfong and/or Smith vandalized the Jeep twice more before they were nabbed. Total damage to the Jeep is estimated at $1,700, which makes the offense Wilfong and Smith allegedly committed a state-jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail.
But Lamar University undergrad Mahogany Mason-Kelly was easily our favorite colossally stupid Internet idiot of the year. In April, Mason-Kelly deemed it wise to tweet the following cop taunt:
"I still gotta warrant in pearland..those pigs will NEVER catch me!!!...Never!!!"
As Rich Connelly wrote at the time, "We immediately pictured 'I'm Homer Simpson, the most powerful food critic in town, who will never get his comeuppance! You hear me? No comeuppance! [turns to the camera] We'll be right back.'"
Mason-Kelly's comeuppance came soon enough. Pearland cops found the offending tweet and forwarded it to Lamar University cops, who promptly arrested her. It then came to light that she not only had the Pearland warrants but that she had also given Houston cops her sister's name when they stopped her last year. We're a little shocked she didn't tweet something like "Those idiot pigs at HPD still think I am my sister, and my ruse will never be uncovered. NEVER!!!"
Dante believed that the prideful were punished by being burdened with heavy loads of stone on their backs so that they might learn humility. Maybe today he would just shut down all their social media accounts for all eternity.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.