OCTOBER 16, 2006

OCTOBER 16, 2006

OCTOBER 16, 2009
October 16, 2009CONROE – A major accident in Conroe around 10:15 a.m. has left three people dead. The crash occurred at FM 1314 and S. Loop 336. A Mazda sedan was northbound on FM 1314 when witnesses say a Dodge pickup that was eastbound on Loop 336 ran a red light where those roads intersect, striking the side of the Mazda. The car was pushed into an older model Mercedes sedan that stopped in the westbound lanes of Loop 336 waiting to turn onto FM 1314. One of the Mazda’s three occupants was pronounced dead on the scene, a second was pronounced dead at an area hospital and a third was flown by PHI Air Medical to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, and pronounced dead at that hospital. The Conroe Police Department Community Oriented Response Team is investigating. Names will be posted after family members are notified. Additional details and videos will be posted later.


A major accident in that occurred in Conroe around 10:15 a.m. on Friday left three people dead and sent an area teen to jail. The crash occurred at Porter Rd. (FM 1314) and S. Loop 336.

The deceased are identified as Craig Rector, 50, his 20-year-old daughter, Felicia Hicks and her common-law husband, Freedom Fitch, 24. All three were Splendora residents. Rector was a father of five; Hicks and Fitch shared a 2-year-old daughter, Annabelle who was not with them at the time of the crash.
According to police, the victims were in a Mazda sedan traveling northbound on FM 1314 when witnesses say a Dodge Ram 3500 Dually pickup driven by 18-year-old Casey McKinley of Grangerland was traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound on Loop 336 and ran a red light where those roads intersect. The pickup struck the side of the Mazda and pushed it into an older model Mercedes sedan that stopped in the westbound lanes of Loop 336 waiting to turn onto FM 1314. Another westbound vehicle was also struck when the Mercedes slid into it.

McKinley and the driver of one of the westbound vehicles were taken by ground ambulances to a local hospital. McKinley was treated and released to law enforcement. Although police said they did not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, blood was drawn to be tested as is standard procedure.

Rector, the Mazda’s driver, was pronounced dead on the scene. A PHI medical helicopter loaded Fitch and began to take off for the Texas Medical Center, but he went into traumatic arrest and they landed. Like Hicks, Fitch was loaded into a ground ambulance and transported to Conroe Regional Medical Center where both were pronounced dead.

The Conroe Police Department Community Oriented Response Team is investigating.

McKinley, a 2009 graduate of Caney Creek High School, was arrested and charged with three counts of manslaughter. McKinley does not have a criminal record as an adult, according to Public Data. He is a student at Texas A&M, Galveston. His bond totals $150,000.

OCTOBER 16, 2010
Fire crews spent most of the night last night and almost all day today still attempting to extinguish the fire grass, woods, and debris fire on FM1485 east at the county line.

Just after 3:30 pm Jonathan Owens who has lived on FM 1485 just a short time walked outside to his truck to get his study material for his electrical license. As he looked across the street he saw heavy smoke rising from the woods. After yelling to his wife to call 911 he ran across the street to the source of the smoke. He said he saw a man with a hose to be what appeared to be watering down a trash fire that had gotten out of hand. Flames were running for his house and tires were burning everywhere.

Reports were coming in from everywhere in the county of the smoke column. Smoke was seen as far away as Highway 290 and State Highway  6 by a squadron of Apache helicopters en-route to do a missing man formation at the Houston National Cemetery at Veterans Memorial and Beltway 8. The column was also visible from that location.

As the New Caney Fire Department arrived Jonathan assisted them in pulling the hose line. When he asked where the help is he was told it was on the way. New Caney requested mutual aid from multiple departments including Needham Road, Caney Creek, River Plantation, Porter, Huffman, Splendora, Plum Grove, Cleveland. In addition, the Texas Forest Service sent two dozers and a track hoe to assist.

Water was in short supply and besides using a plug several miles away water was also being pumped from the San Jacinto River.

The layout of the land made moving around very difficult. Besides thousands of tires, there were tons of construction debris including sheetrock, cans of paint thinner, wood, tile, brick even an old boat, and two empty 500-gallon steel tanks. The land was covered with pits and ravines some almost fifteen feet deep.

According to the Texas Forest service who must do a complete survey of the burn area by using GPS instruments the fire was 6.1 acres total.

Late Saturday night most crews left but New Caney Fire Department remained on the scene. Early this morning Houston Fire Department started to get calls of smoke in the area and people were having difficulty breathing.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office who had close FM1485 for the day reopened it just to close it back to one lane again to get tankers in and slow traffic in the smoky conditions.

Sunday morning Commissioner Ed Rinehart dispatched a track hoe to the scene with an operator to assist the fire department.

Chief Jeff Taylor of the New Caney Fire Department praised all the departments that assisted and the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office, Constable Rowdy Haydens office, and the Texas Forest Service. He also tanked Commissioner Rinehart for the equipment which was used to dig large holes, fill them with burning debris and cover them over with dirt.

Jonathan  Owens whose little boy watched firefighters at work has decided he wants to be a fireman when he grows up. Owens also praised the fire departments and the way they put their hearts into it and got the job done.

The fire remains under investigation as to the cause. Some thought it could have been caused by an arc on a power line but others said it was a trash fire.

Apparently, the property owners planned on putting a go-kart track on the site and that was the reason for the tires.

Others told of many years ago another large fire burned at the same location. Some called this the largest fire they could remember involving debris and vegetation but others said the fire on FM1314 north of SH242 several years ago was much larger. In that fire abandon, mulch piles ignited bringing firefighters from many departments and there fighting it overnight.

OCTOBER 16, 2013
Fifteen years later, the man accused of burning 8-year-old Robbie Middleton may be held accountable. On June 28, 1998, Robbie Middleton celebrated his eighth birthday, and then he was murdered, though it was more than a decade before he died from his injuries.  Robbie was playing at his Splendora home that fateful day when he asked permission to go to a friend’s house on the next street. The neighborhood children had worn a narrow trail through the woods to the next street.

Not long after he started down the trail, 8-year-old Robbie was confronted by 13-year-old Don Collins, who is accused of pouring gasoline on Robbie, and then lighting it. Robbie ran up the trail still on fire and tearing off his clothes. He soon emerged on Crossnow, the street he lived on. Several people saw him and ran to try and help. One grabbed a bucket of water; a passerby stopped and called for an ambulance. Others, including Don Collins and Robbie’s father comforted him. When someone asked who had done this to him, a semi-coherent Robbie responded with the name “Rex,” who was another friend that lived down the street. As they waited for EMS to arrive, Robbie’s father went to Rex’s house, but nobody was home.

Medics soon arrived and requested Life Flight, which flew the severely burned boy to Shriners Burn Center.

Detectives with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and found a 5-foot diameter scorched patch in the woods, which they believed to be where Robbie was set on fire.

Collins gave a statement implicating another boy he claimed he met on the trail. Collins told investigators he and the other boy went to a nearby barn and found a gallon gas can with matches on top and then went into the woods to burn a tree. When Robbie Middleton came walking down the trail Collins said, the other juvenile instead splashed gas on Robbie and then threw a match into his face.

The detectives also investigated Rex, the neighbor boy Robbie had implicated. However, they determined Rex had been two miles away swimming with at least seven other people at the time of the attack.

On June 30, 1998, Collins gave KHOU-TV, Channel 11 an interview that prompted detectives to take a closer look at Collins.

Not long after, Collins was accused of sexually assaulting another young male in Liberty County, and telling him, “If you don’t keep quiet about this, I will burn you like I did the other boy.”

Robbie Middleton was burned over 99.5 percent of his body. Chances for survival, under those circumstances, were very slim. His only unburned skin was a small patch on the bottom of his foot which provided the skin to grow a culture and slowly replace the skin.

Over the years, Robbie Middleton endured over 200 surgeries. Frequently, scar tissue would build, preventing movement, and necessitating another surgery.

Just before Robbie Middleton’s 21st birthday, he died. An autopsy determined his cause of death was cancer, caused by the deep burns and multiple skin grafts. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Not long before he died, Robbie Middleton gave a 17-minute video deposition in which he told of Collins sexually assaulting him 10 days earlier before the gasoline attack. He also implicated Collins as the person who set him on fire.

Collins went first to Texas Youth Commission and was then sent to prison for failing to register as a sex offender. He was released in 2005.

The Middleton family also filed a civil suit against Collins after Robbie’s death. It was filed in Fayette County. The video deposition played a big part in the jury award of a record $150 billion.

After the trial, Robbie Middleton’s mother, Colleen was asked about her son’s reason for the deposition.

“He did it because was afraid that Don (Collins) might attack another child, and that was Robert’s motivation for giving that deposition,” she said.

Colleen Middleton says they did not sue Collins for the money. They knew Collins did not have it. The family says it was about seeking justice.

“I never expect to see a penny of the money, not at all,” she said. “The whole reason we did this today was to send a statement to Montgomery County that they need to criminally prosecute him,” she said.

David Walker looked at the case, but it was never moved forward.

When J.D. Lambright ran for County Attorney, one of his promises was to move the Middleton case forward. He is keeping his promise.

At first, Colleen Middleton said she expected only broken promises. That was until she met with Lambright, and then saw his actions.

Lambright contacted the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad and asked them to look into the case. Two detectives spent months locating witnesses. They even located additional sexual assault victims of Collins’.

As the investigation continued, the detectives discovered Collins was in the San Jacinto County Jail awaiting a trial on another Failure to Register as a Sex Offender charge. Lambright moved forward and filed the Felony Murder charge on September 13, 2013. The felony murder was filed because Collins was accused of setting Middleton on fire to cover up another crime – the sexual assault.

Judge Kathleen Hamilton of the 359th District Court then assigned E. Tay Bond to the case as Collins’ court-appointed attorney. Bond visited Collins in the San Jacinto County Jail.

The Cold Case Squad then told Lambright they were delivering his case files. When they appeared in the van with over a dozen banker’s boxes, Lambright thought they were also delivering to others. Before long, he learned that he was the recipient of almost 53,000 pages of documents related to the investigation.  Bond received an identical set and had to make room in his 2,500 square foot office. Bond is planning to use another building to begin laying out the documents and reading through them.

When Lambright heard that Collins was not going to trial in San Jacinto County until 2014, he secured a bench warrant to bring Collins to Montgomery County.

Collins was to be picked up on October 18 and appear in court on October 21. That date was set for Judge Hamilton to hear arguments from both Lambright and Bond.

As it now stands, 28-year-old Collins is still under the juvenile courts’ and County Attorney’s jurisdiction, since he was 13 when the crime was committed. The first step will be a hearing to move his case to the District Attorney’s Office, where adult felony cases and prosecuted. Bond says Lambright does not have a leg to stand on, due to laws in effect at the time of the crime.

It was learned on Tuesday that the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office went to San Jacinto County Monday and returned with Collins, placing him in the Montgomery County Jail.

Texas Law states that juvenile suspects must see a judge in a detention hearing within 48-hours of arrest to determine if there is enough cause to hold them for trial.

Judge Hamilton learned what multi-tasking was on Wednesday, as she had a jury out on a failure to change the address of a sex offender deliberating. She also has a juvenile court docket on Wednesday where she sees several juveniles who are being detained and make a determination on their fate.

The juveniles went into court that morning with Judge Hamilton speaking with each of them, including some of their family members. Lasting until almost 11 am she set the detention hearing for Collins until 1 p.m.

At 1 p.m. Collins was brought into the courtroom. Tattoos covered his head and much of his body. Coleen Middleton said she thought he looked like a hardened criminal.

Mr. Peabody with the County Attorney’s Office was presenting the case when approximately 15 minutes into it there was a knock at the door. The jury had reached a decision on the earlier case the Judge was hearing.

Collins was taken back out of the courtroom, and the jury was brought in along with the defendant. Finding the defendant guilty, he was cuffed and removed from the courtroom to face sentencing on Thursday.

Collins was then returned to the courtroom and Peabody continued.

After hearing the information on the charge Judge Hamilton set a $1 million bond on Collins. Tay Bond then told the court there was no way for him to be ready for the transfer hearing next Monday to determine if Collins could be tried as an adult. Due to the number of documents that had to be reviewed, Bond felt it could be 90 to 180 days before he was ready for the hearing.

An agreement was reached to meet next Monday and set a firm date for the transfer hearing. In the meantime, since Collins is still under juvenile authority he must be brought in front of the judge every 10 business days for another detention hearing.

After Collins was removed from the court Colleen Middleton spoke of what it was like going through the process, almost reliving the past. Hearing the documents on the confession, Colleen Middleton said she wished she could speak out on the truthfulness of them. She said the hardest part was to sit there and not say anything. She is determined to see it through, she said, however long it takes. She also expressed how happy she is to see how this is going now.  Before she felt nothing was going to happen like her son died feeling he did not matter.

“We are finally going to have closure and it will be over,” she said.

Robbie’s sister Heather Richards said 1999 was the last time she saw Collins when he was at school for two days. She was amazed at all his tattoos.

“He looks like a monster,” Richards said.

Lambright said Collins was in the San Jacinto County Jail facing a third-time charge of Failure to Register as a Sex Offender and was looking at a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in TDCJ.

If they are successful in getting Collins tried and convicted as an adult, he faces five to 99 years in prison.

He said even though the case will be difficult, he credits the Cold Case detectives with locating witnesses, none of who saw the actual act, but who were there, some as children and some as adults. He also said some had died. They have located almost everyone noted in the case in 1998. They are still attempting to locate any other victims of Collins.

Lambright also said Collins’ actions in the San Jacinto County Jail said a lot about him. He has announced he was “tank boss” when he came in, and had assaulted one of the jailers. Collins is also known to have been involved with the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas prison gang and various other White Supremacy organizations.

Bond said it will take a long time to get ready for a trial and he is not even sure Collins can get a fair trial in Montgomery County, due to community awareness of the case. He may try to get the trial transferred to another county.

Bond said the government has had a two-year head start on him, and he has had the 55,000 pages of documents for about a week. According to Bond, this has been one of the most “document-intensive” cases he ever had.

When asked how he prepares for something like this, he said, “You sit at a table, you get a comfortable chair, and you go through every single one of them.”

Bond said it would take 12 to 16 months just to prepare for trial. That includes going through everything and interviewing the 60 some people the government has already interviewed. If it goes to trial he feels that will last at least 3 weeks.

One of the most interesting parts of the case, according to Bond, is that Collins was 13 at the time the offense occurred. Of course, Bond is contesting whether Collins had any involvement at all. At the age of 13 and the laws that applied then, Collins was not eligible to be transferred or to be tried as an adult. Now, he said, the government is trying to come back under a different charge (murder) and do a transfer hearing, but the law applies from when Collins was 13.

“We will be contesting and litigating this new area of law at every step,” Bond said.

Montgomery County Police Reporter will be covering all the hearings until the conclusion.

OCTOBER, 16, 2014
Just after 1:15 am Thursday morning a driver of a 2012 Honda Sonota was southbound at a high rate of speed in the 24600 block of Glen Loch just south of Wilde Woods Way. As he entered the curve he lost control slamming into the side of a driveway. The driver, who had no identification was pronounced dead on the scene by Montgomery County Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Matt Masden. He ordered Eickenhorst Funeral Directors to transport the victim to the Montgomery County Forensic Center for autopsy.

The driver has been identified as Tylor Lawson Fondren, age 27, of Spring.

OCTOBER 16, 2015
At 5:24 am MCHD and New Caney Fire Department responded to a three-car major accident on FM 1485 at Firetower Road. Initial reports say that a white 2002 Nissan Sentra driven by James G. Barry III, 60, of New Caney was eastbound on FM 1485 when it came into the curve and crossed the center line. The Barry vehicle struck Ishia Garghar Hatten, 35 of Conroe in his 2010 Hyundai Sonata head-on. The Sonata then continued to slide into the intersection of Firetower Road where a Honda Accord driven by Amanda Sholars,25, of Conroe who was waiting at the stop sign. The female driver saw the crash and the Hyundai coming toward her after being struck. She was able to quickly move her vehicle which has been in the direct path of the Hyundai. She escaped severe injury as the Sonata slammed into her vehicle. There was a very heavy fog at the time. Hatten was entrapped in his Hyundai and was extricated by Caney Creek Fire Department who assisted. That driver was taken to Conroe Regional Hospital in critical condition after a helicopter request was turned down due to fog.

Barry, the driver of the Nissan was also entrapped and after a lengthy extrication by the New Caney Fire Department went into trauma arrest, crews worked on the driver for an extended time but he was pronounced dead just before 6:30 am.

Montgomery County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts ordered Eickenhorst Funeral Directors to transport Barry to the Montgomery County Forensic Center for autopsy.

FM 1485 was closed until 10 am as DPS worked the investigation,

At 5:18 am Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office dispatched an attempt to locate on a small white passenger car eastbound on SH 242 approaching FM 1485. It was being followed by the person who reported the vehicle. That person said the vehicle was swerving all over the road. The vehicle then turned right onto FM 1485 and the person reporting it no longer followed. They put a license number of CDW1152. Just 6 minutes later that vehicle, driven by Barry crossed the line Hatten head-on and closing FM 1485.

Barry was arrested in 2007 by Houston Police for possession of a controlled substance and given 3 years probation deferred. In May of 2010 that probation was revoked and he was sent to State Jail for 1 year. Then on September 4, 2012, he was arrested in Montgomery County for DWI. For that, he was fined $1000 and got 3 days in jail. Then on Halloween of 2013, he was once again arrested in Montgomery County for DWI and 9 months later was sentenced to 60 days in the Montgomery County Jail.

OCTOBER 16, 2015
About 9 pm on Friday Aldine Fire Department responded to a house fire at 2147 Greenbriar Colony off Aldine Westfield near Bush Airport. They arrived to find heavy fire coming from the second floor of a two-story home. The flames were melting the vinyl siding on the home next to it. Firefighters were able to put a quick stop to the flames preventing major damage to the structure next door.

Aldine was assisted by Westfield Road Fire Department and Houston Fire Department.

OCTOBER 16, 2016
Just after 2am Sunday a silver Buick was eastbound on Richmond and for unknown reasons came across to the westbound lanes at Ocee. The male driver in the Buick struck a Chevrolet Trailblazer head-on. The female driver of the TrailBlazer and the male driver in the Buick had to be cut out by firefighters. The female passenger of the TrailBlazer was uninjured. Both drivers suffered broken bones but not life-threatening injuries. It is unknown if the driver of the Buick was impaired.

OCTOBER 16, 2017
Monday several State Senators were present in Montgomery County to hear testimony on the Harvey Flooding. Members of Federal, State, and local agencies answered questions put to them by the panel. In addition, several residents also testified. This video is the one-hour and fifteen-minute testimony given by the San Jacinto River Authority. Questions were put to them on why there was no pre-release. Why the gates had to open. The way the dam is designed the normal water level is 18-inches below the top of the gates. When the release of almost 80,000 CFS of water was released, almost 140,000 CFS were entering the lake from the watershed above. If water were to pour over the gates the possibility of immediate erosion and possible failure was possible. It was explained and documented by them on the weather predictions and rainfall across the area. Discussions came upon dealing with dredging the river, and possibly additional retention ponds below the dam. The entire 6-1/2 hour video will be posted as soon as we are able to get it loaded to the server.

OCTOBER 16, 2017
Monday several State Senators were present in Montgomery County to hear testimony on the Harvey Flooding. Members of Federal, State, and local agencies answered questions put to them by the panel. In addition, several residents also testified. This video is the one-hour and fifteen-minute testimony given by the San Jacinto River Authority. Questions were put to them on why there was no pre-release. Why the gates had to open. The way the dam is designed the normal water level is 18-inches below the top of the gates. When the release of almost 80,000 CFS of water was released, almost 140,000 CFS were entering the lake from the watershed above. If water were to pour over the gates the possibility of immediate erosion and possible failure was possible. It was explained and documented by them on the weather predictions and rainfall across the area. Discussions came upon dealing with dredging the river, and possibly additional retention ponds below the dam. The entire 6-1/2 hour video

OCTOBER 16, 2019
Just after 2:30 am a black male with a black hoodie, gray shorts, and mask entered the Walmart at SH 242 and I45 in a robbery attempt. He did fire off a shot into the air before fleeing. It is not known what caused him to leave empty-handed. Customers and Associates hit the floor then fled through exits. Multiple Police Agencies responded and sealed the area just as an intense rainstorm hit. The male did drop a backpack which detectives are now processing along with store video. We will post an interview with a store customer who was shopping with her family when the shot went off. She was scared for her life as in the quick exit from the store the family became separated. There were no injuries reported. However, the store remains closed.

OCTOBER 16, 2019
A Klein Oak High School student was injured Wednesday while ‘car surfing,’ authorities said.

It happened outside Hildebrandt Intermediate School in the parking lot adjacent to the high school.

A 17-year-old was driving a red Mini-Cooper in the lot while another 17-year-old was riding on top of the vehicle, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Investigators on the scene said the driver suddenly applied the brakes, which caused the victim to fall off and hit his head on the pavement.

The victim was airlifted to a hospital, according to Justin Elbert with Klein ISD. Gonzales said the boy suffered a serious head injury.

OCTOBER 16, 2020
Just before 12:30 pm Porter Fire received a call for a major accident with entrapment on Sorters Road just north of North Park. They arrived to find a utility pole in the front seat of the vehicle with the driver. They also learned a 9-year-old girl had been sitting in the front seat but had escaped and was walking around. In addition, an 8-year-old boy had been in the back seat without a seatbelt and was not showing any signs of trauma. He also escaped from the wreckage. The male driver of the vehicle was trapped for close to 30-minutes as crews worked to free him from between the center console and the utility pole. He was transported to the hospital in stable condition and was talking to rescuers though the entire operation. Due to the severity of the crash and the female child having some internal pain the two children were transported to Texas Children’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. The father was taken to Kingwood Hospital. Firefighters worked with the pole cracked in two and the overhead lines still energized. DPS cited the driver on at least four charges including no driver’s license or insurance. According to a witness who was working on the water plane next to the scene. The vehicle was northbound on Sorters when it came around the curve on the wet road. The vehicle went to the ditch, hit the end of a driveway, and launched, almost hitting the first set of lines some 16-feet off the ground.

OCTOBER 16, 2020
This morning’s program at The Woodlands Fire Department Training Grounds on IH-45 provided participants first-hand experience with scenarios to rotate through, including a flashover chamber building fire, a vehicle extrication, EMS CPR activity, and a firefighter search and rescue with a hose pull and water stream. Firefighter leaders also briefly discussed trending public safety issues. Participants were fitted with firefighting gear and actually participated in each phase of the exercise including the flashover chamber. A Flashover is a thermally-driven event during which every combustible surface exposed to thermal radiation in a compartment or enclosed space rapidly and simultaneously ignites. Flashover normally occurs when the upper portion of the compartment reaches a temperature of approximately 1,100 °F for ordinary combustibles. Participants include U.S. Congressman Kevin Brady; Texas State Reps Steve Toth, Ernest Bailes and Cecil Bell; The Woodlands Township Directors Shelly Sekula-Gibbs, Bob Milner and Jason J.Nelson; Shenandoah Mayor Ritch Wheeler; Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable and his Chief Deputy Simner. Also The Woodlands Chamber of Commerce CEO J.J. Hollie; and Woodlands business owners Dan Althorn and Terry McBurney and Joe Haliti with Conroe’s Joe’s Italian Restaurant.

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