Old-fashioned detective work, 21st Century style, helped track down a mother's stolen cell phone full of pictures of her son, who died at age 5 two years ago. Police used surveillance video, an electronic signature and Facebook to find the woman who took the phone from a store counter. Late Thursday morning, Orange Police Detective Sergeant Richard Ashworth and District Attorney Investigator K.C. Breshears got the phone from a house in Vidor. Breshears said the woman was not at the house but her boyfriend knew where the phone was and gave it to the officers. The phone had lost its charge. Breshears said they took it to a store in Vidor and charged it. The memory card still held the pictures.
They traveled back to Orange and Jennifer Parkhurst was able to get the phone back. Her son, Indy, died of a rare brain tumor in January 2013. He had been diagnosed with the cancer at the age of 3. She had taken dozens of family pictures of Indy, his brother and sister and they were saved in the phone.
She told Orange police she accidentally left the phone on a counter at Palais Royal in Northway Shopping Center Friday afternoon. She soon noticed the phone was missing and went back. However, someone had taken it. Orange Police Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said Palais Royal's Loss Prevention Department worked with Ashworth and Breshears. Store surveillance recorded a woman returning clothes to the clerk at the counter. The woman can be seen taking the phone. Hargrave said the woman signed an electronic screen for the return, but investigators could not read the handwriting. They made guesses at possibilities for the name and then checked their guesses against local jail records. One of the name possibilities matched a woman who had been in jail. Detectives then checked that woman’s Facebook page. Her photos on Facebook matched the woman in the surveillance. In addition, the woman had a picture of her car on Facebook. The surveillance video showed the woman who took the phone getting into a similar car.
Hargrave said misdemeanor theft charges will later be filed against the woman. However, officers first wanted to recover the phone for Parkhurst, he said. KOGT posted the surveillance video on kogt.com and on Facebook. The Facebook had almost 1,300 shares as people tried to help the mother recover her precious pictures. He thanked the public for calling in tips to police. Only one of the names given to police proved to be the correct one. By that time, the detectives had recovered the phone.
Early voting ended Tuesday for the city council and school board races on Saturday. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday for people who haven't voted. KOGT will have live coverage of election returns Saturday night. The Bridge City school board race drew 796 early votes. The West Orange-Cove school board election had 710 early votes. The Orange City Council has a contested mayor's race and drew a total of 878 votes. The city has single-member districts for council positions. This year the District 1 position is open and has two candidates. Only people who live in the district may vote in the race. That district had 187 early votes cast. The City of West Orange had 67 early votes.
A mother and her four children were not seriously hurt after their SUV traveled into a utility pole on 37th Street at 7:20 Wednesday morning. Orange Police Officer Byrun Perry said the woman told him a spare tire had not been installed properly. The tire caused massive vibrations in the front end and the woman lost control. Office Perry said witnesses told him she had been traveling slowly.
|This is all that's left of one boat involved in an accident Tuesday afternoon on the Sabine River. Four people were taken to hospitals after the collision on the curve where the high lines go across the river near Blue Bird Fish Camp. Witness Wesley Dishon said "They're lucky to be alive." Two young women and a young man were on one boat that was capsized. Dishon said their bay boat was hit by an SCB center console boat. When he saw the SCB, "the front of the boat was all gone." The man who was a passenger on the SCB suffered a serious leg injury. Participants in a popular Tuesday afternoon fishing tournament, including Dishon and his son, Drake, quickly went to help. One of the rescuers used his cell phone to call 911 at 5:37 p.m. Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt and his rescue boat crew came to the scene and brought back the victims to Blue Bird where Acadian ambulances were waiting. People at the Blue Bird docks said the driver of the second boat got a ride to shore but did not need to go in an ambulance. Russell Bottley Jr. and his friend were fishing and said that one of the boats was going fast and hit the boat that capsized. "It could’ve been a fatality real easy," he said. When Bottley got to the capsized boat, one woman had climbed on top and the other was holding on to the side. The man in the boat was swimming toward it.
|UPDATE: PHONE HAS BEEN RECOVERED.....Southeast Texas was charmed by the tow-headed Indy Parkhurst as he fought and succumbed to brain cancer. Now his mother is trying to find her phone with photographs of him and their family. Someone stole it Friday from a counter at Palais Royal in Northway Shopping Center Friday afternoon. Jennifer Parkhurst told Orange police she left the Samsung Galaxy 4 phone by accident for a couple of minutes. When she returned, it was gone. Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said police are reviewing surveillance recordings from the store to help identify the thief. Parkhurst posted on her Facebook that she has locked and decommissioned the phone so it cannot be used. "Since this phone could not possibly mean anything to you but does mean a lot to me and my family, feel free to mail it to 1009 Green Avenue in Orange, Texas, 77630." She said the phone can be mailed COD (cash on delivery) with no postage. Indy died in January 2013 at the age of 5. He had been diagnosed with the rare brain tumor at the age of 3. If you recognize the woman in the video please call Orange Police at 883-1026.|
A family is missing their clothing, including the children's school uniforms, after a thief took the items from a self-service laundry Monday night. The mother in the family called Orange police at 10:13 p.m. to report the white basket of clothes had been stolen. She said she went to sit in the car as the clothes dried at the business at 811 Strickland Drive. When she walked inside to get the clothes, they were gone. Police report that a surveillance recording in the building shows a woman walking out with the basket of clothes, getting in a car and driving away. Detectives are trying to track down the thief.
Three vehicles were hit by a thief, or thieves, outside the motel at 4407 27th Street off Interstate 10 West. Victims called Orange police Monday morning after discovering the thefts. An SUV had a jack still under it and a back tire and wheel had been stolen. A flat-bed truck used for work was missing the spare tire and wheel, plus a number of tools were taken from the tool box. Tools were also taken from a parked pickup truck. On Monday afternoon, a woman reported that she returned home to her house in the 200 block of Lakeside Drive and discovered that cash and a men’s diamond watch were missing.
Marble is coming loose from the front of the courthouse above the main entrance. Commissioner Barry Burton said the hazardous situation was brought to the commissioners’ attention by a review of county buildings in the last few weeks. Burton pointed out that he was shown photographs of the black marble where the words ORANGE COUNTY COURT HOUSE are above the front entrance. The slab where the letter O is in Orange has pulled away from the wall a half inch, and Burton added that the situation is a disaster waiting to happen. The front entrance to the courthouse has been closed off because of the hazard. Burton indicated he went up to the third floor of the courthouse to investigate the situation first hand and reported he could see the corroded fasteners that were below the level of the others. He urged something must be done to get an evaluation and estimate of what can remedy the situation before hundreds of pounds of marble come down on someone’s head. The commissioners authorized Maintenance Director Kurt Guidry to get bids for repairing the marble façade.
|The 46th Annual Senior Citizen Rally Day was held Tuesday at the OC Expo Center. The seniors enjoyed dancing and listening to music from the Heart to Heart Band, food, freebies, bingo and more. There were also several awards given out. Female Senior Citizen of the Year - Olly Franklin; Male Senior Citizen of the Year - Bert Davis; Senior Citizen who lived in Orange County the longest - Frances Chester; Senior Citizen with the most grandchildren - Barbara Girlinghouse; Senior Citizen with the most volunteer hours - Helen Broussard; Senior Citizen who recently moved to Orange County - FM & Pat Chelette; Visa gift card winner - Betty Jones; Best Decorated Booth - Claybar Funeral Home.|
Commissioners Court approved a change Monday to the fee charged citizens to use the collection station at the landfill. Republic Services raised its fees charged to remove the collection from the landfill, so County Engineer Clark Slacum recommended increasing the collection fee for citizens to go into effect June 1. The court approved Slacum’s recommendation to raise the fee for the citizen’s collection card from $20 to $30 to help partly compensate for the increase in Republic’s contract. The citizen’s collection card has 20 boxes that are checked off once each time a citizen uses the collection station at the landfill. The Commissioners Court heard County Engineer Clark Slacum’s proposal to raise the fees for using the collection station at the county landfill. Slacum also proposed a new fee to be charged citizens for the county to install new culverts on their property. The Court was in agreement with Slacum’s suggestion to raise the fee to match the cost of building the culverts, but Commissioner John Banken disagreed with Slacum on charging citizens to rebuild existing culverts. Slacum said he believes citizens should pay for the culvert repairs. Banken felt the wording that citizens pay for all costs was too general, and questioned Slacum what is all costs? A public hearing will be called at a later date to finalize Slacum’s proposal for a new policy dealing with culverts. Judge Brint Carlton was not at the workshop, but he was delegated the responsibility to deal with the status of a secretary hired by the county that works for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The position was created at the request of the DPS in 1984, possibly it was mentioned when the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace and the DPS shared the same office off of Highway 87. A lengthy discussion followed on the raising of the wages for part-time county employees especially drivers of the county buses which Commissioner John Banken favors. Banken believes a raise for the drivers especially is overdue resulting in there being a shortage of drivers and some of their runs for the citizens in the county being missed. He concluded the drivers need to get that increase. Everyone agreed a raise was necessary, but another workshop may need to be called to fully address the topic.
Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD Fifth Six Weeks Honor Rolls
Orange County Health Inspector James Scales checked 29 restaurants and food service businesses during the last half of April and gave 10 perfect scores. The lowest score was an 81 and went to The Country Store, 6373 FM 1442 in Orangefield. The demerits included tuna salad sandwiches and milk at unsafe temperatures plus "very dirty" restrooms. In addition, Scales gave three pre-opening inspections. The 100 scores went to St. Mary's School in Orange, Tekoa Academy in Orange, New Beginninz Academy in Orange, the Orange County Jail in Orange, Flava-Foods at Lamar State College-Orange, Mauriceville Crawfish Festival, Dollar General on FM 105 in Orangefield, Whataburger on Texas Avenue in Bridge City, The Jumping Bean on Highway 87 North in Little Cypress, and Woogies Sandwiches on North Main Street in Vidor. The pre-opening inspections were at Koolz Sno Shack in Vidor, the Vidor Barbecue Festival and the Dollar Tree on Texas Avenue in Bridge City. more
The Orange County Sheriff's Office recovered the body of a woman in the Neches River about 1 p.m. Monday. Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said a search was started after an abandoned car was found on the Rainbow Bridge early in the morning and the owner did not return home. The body was found about 300 to 500 yards down river toward Sabine Lake. The identity is not being released until relatives have been notified.
A drug-detection dog from Beaumont helped law officers Saturday night find a large amount of methamphetamine and marijuana buried under a gravel driveway in Vidor. The Orange County Sheriff's Office announced the drug raid that started at 8:50 p.m. Saturday at a residence in the 100 block of Claire Street in Vidor.
Sheriff's Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said officers first found a half pound of methamphetamine in a car. They called the Beaumont Police Department's K-9 Unit to help. The dogs did a search of the property and focused on the driveway. A pound and a half of methamphetamine and a pound of marijuana were found buried about six inches deep in the gravel and clay driveway. The drugs were in sealed containers. Officers also found two stolen firearms and an amount of cash.
Ben Doyle Vaughn III, 43, was arrested. He faces charges of first degree felony possession of a controlled substance for the meth, plus a state jail felony for possession greater than four ounces and less than five pounds. In addition, he was charged with two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Judge Derry Dunn set a total of $130,200 bond. Vaughn posted bond and was released from the Orange County Jail Sunday.
Hodgkinson said officers received a state search warrant from 163rd District Judge Courtney Arkeen. The operation included the Orange County Sheriff's Office Special Services Division; the City of Orange Narcotics and Major Crimes Unit; Department of Homeland Security; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; and the Beaumont Police Department's K-9 Unit.
Sign up for the DuPont Science SuperStar class of 2015-2016 is now underway. This is the 20th anniversary of the Science SuperStars sponsored by DuPont Sabine River Works. Students are selected from schools throughout Orange County to participate in this program. Each student is required to attend a free two-week summer camp in Orange where they will learn science concepts and exiting ways to present these concepts to other students. Students participating in this program will develop expertise in more than 100 activities. The selection process for participation in this program includes the submission of a recent report card and a teacher recommendation. Students must be entering the 8th grade and be able to attend the workshop from July 13 through July 23rd at WOS Elementary on MLK in Orange. Michael Hoke, founding director of Science SuperStars, will provide all instruction for this program with the help of Science SuperStar alumni and area science teachers. Currently in the U.S. there are at least 15 Science SuperStar programs operating, all with their origins from the one started in Orange County, Texas. According to Michael Hoke, “We owe it to our children in Orange County to offer this program and DuPont has generously agreed to sponsor Science SuperStars. Hopefully, we can continue to provide this quality science program to children throughout Orange County to better prepare them for their future.” Parents interested in their child attending this program may receive an application by emailing Michael Hoke at firstname.lastname@example.org . The deadline for all applications is May 20, 2014
The staff of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School online newspaper, The Bear Facts, has been awarded the honor of being an SNO (Student Newspapers Online) Distinguished Site for 2015. The staff met all six standards given by the Distinguished Sites Recognition Program and earned badges in the following categories: Excellence in Writing, Continuous Coverage, Site Excellence, Story Page Excellence, Multimedia and Audience Engagement. Two stories written by senior Morgan Collier and one story written by junior Sydney Pierce were chosen to be published on Best of SNO, a site devoted to excellence in student journalism. The website, www.lcmbearfacts.com, offers school and community news, sports updates and schedules, photos, videos and breaking news. The award-winning staff is made up of the following students: Morgan Collier (Editor), Wendy Cates (Copy Editor), Jacob Powers (Video Editor), Sydney Pierce, Chelsea Dickert, Valen Elliott, JoLynn Homin, Ethan Martin and Jeffrey Holland. The staff is led by LCM High School Journalism teacher Lindsey Fruge. Pictured: Front row (left to right): Jacob Powers, Valen Elliott, Sydney Pierce, Ethan Martin, Morgan Collier, Jeffrey Holland. Back row (left to right): JoLynn Homin, Wendy Cates, Chelsea Dickert, Lindsey Fruge
The annual tradition of celebrating public gardens on the Friday preceding Mother's Day weekend continues this year on May 8, 2015 as Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center joins communities throughout the United States in celebration of National Public Gardens Day. Presented by the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), this annual day of awareness invites communities nationwide to explore the diverse beauty of their local green spaces and to take advantage of the conservation, education and environmental preservation resources public gardens provide. Shangri La Gardens will be participating in National Public Gardens Day by offering one FREE admission to Shangri La Gardens with each coupon downloaded from the National Public Gardens Day web site. Shangri La Gardens Director, Rick Lewandowski states, "Public Gardens play an enormously important role in the life and vitality of our communities by creating beautiful places for enjoyment and learning. National Public Gardens Day provides a forum for us to collectively celebrate our commitment and we want everyone to come out to discover the resources we provide to enhance the quality of life for children and adults."
|Two men are in critical condition after a single-engine plane crashed into a vacant lot in the Cypresswood subdivision near the Orange County Airport. The men have been identified as Larry Webb and Ron Jackson. Witnesses said the plane had taken off from the airport and ran into electrical highlines, causing it to go down. The crash was about 10:15 a.m. in clear, sunny weather. Jessica Latham and Earlisha Sonnier work at the nearby The Meadows Rehabilitation Center. They were outside in the back on a break. They said they saw the low-flying plane hit the wires and crash. "We hopped in my truck," Latham said. "She (Sonnier) called 911 to let them know there was a plane crash." Latham is certified in First Aid. She knew not to move them. She said she rubbed the arm of one of the men to let him know that help was on the way. The men were older and Latham said she thought of her grandfather and how she would want him treated. "We came out of the kindness of our heart," she said. The new subdivision is between State Highway 87 and FM 105 and has only a few houses. The site is a short distance from the runway of the airport. The plane had taken off and failed to clear the wires. The Orange Fire Department and Orange Police Department were immediately at the site along with Acadian Ambulance Service. Medical helicopters were called to airlift the men. One went to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont and the other to Galveston.|
Orangefield High School students attended the Bridge City Relay For Life event Friday evening. Students gathered with others from the community to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. The Orangefield ISD team raised $1,046.13 for the American Cancer Society.
What's happening around town? Check the Happenings page!
St. Mary Catholic School Student Council was awarded Outstanding Student Council, Outstanding Energy and Environment, Outstanding Pride and Patriotism, Outstanding D.A.S.H., Outstanding Community Service and with the accumulation of all these awards, the council has received Sweepstakes status with Texas Association of Student Councils. Officers pictured are Krystal Lester, Shelby Smith, Megan Do and Amber Lester. Mrs. Angie Smith is the advisor for the council.
|At approximately 11:45pm, the Orange Fire Department responded to the report of an apartment fire at 4750 Meeks Drive. Upon arrival, crews reported heavy smoke showing from a bottom apartment. Upon entering, crews encountered heavy fire conditions, but were able to suppress the fire within about 10 minutes. The apartment was occupied at the time of the fire, but all three residents were able to get out safely. Two other apartments were affected due to heat and smoke damage. The Red Cross was called in to assist with temporary housing.|
|Kaylin Mitchem of Vidor won first place in the two-dimensional art category in the Cypress Branches Literary/Artistic Journal contest at Lamar State College-Orange. Her watercolor, “Splash of Color”, which appears on the cover of the journal, won the grand prize of $300.
Front from left: Jennifer Carrao, Kaylin Mitchem, Rebecca Zuniga, and Jamie Nunez. Back: Micaela Moreno, Erik Tutt, Danielle Battise, Haley Woods, Morgan Zerko, Jacob Bland and Jonathan Brown. more
Cecil Atkission Toyota on Interstate 10 has been hit by another thief. On Thursday morning, the company called Orange Police to report that $5,000 in cash had been stolen from a locked office. Last week, the company reported a total of three pickup trucks stolen from the lot. One was a new and the other two were late-model used. One truck was recovered by police and a man was arrested.
Two cars were possibly intentionally set on fire Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Orange Police Detective Captain Cliff Hargrave said the two are likely connected. Patrol Officer J.T. Gillen reported that the first car started burning Wednesday night in the 100 block of Dahlia in the Rosemont neighborhood. The owner of the 2001 Lincoln said he was inside his house when he heard a car door open outside. He looked out a window and saw a man drive off in a black Infinity. Then he noticed the passenger side of his car was on fire. He grabbed a water hose and extinguished the fire before calling police at 11:45 p.m. Police were then called about 4 a.m. Thursday to the 3000 block of 18th Street. Lt. J.D. Keaton reported that a 2002 black Infinity parked in a space at the Craig Homes was on fire with flames coming from under the hood.
Marriage License: Issued By The Office of Brandy Robertson, Orange County Clerk For the Week of April 27, 2015 thru May 1, 2015. Matthew D. Tompkins and Carla D. Guillory, Eric A. Burns and Kelly A. Johnson, Kenneth A. Dameron and Simone E. Smith, Michael H. Copeland and Dondi M. Racca, Robert C. McDonald and Mallory M. Matt, Edgar A. Vargas and Harley C. Dupree, Christopher L. Rodriguez and Jennifer L. Rodriguez, Shawne P. McCreary and Christina N. Hubbard, Angelo V. De Vries , Jr. and Sandra R. Wilkerson, Procoro P. Luis and Heather L. Gallien, Dylan R. Smith and Taylor E. Jackson.
The 9th annual Law Day Art Contest was held recently in Beaumont at the Federal Building. Seven hundred pieces of art were entered and 18 were selected as finalists. These finalists were honored last week at an awards ceremony and reception. Four finalists were Orangefield art students: Thanh Tsan, Shelby Williams, Tisha Merendino, and Lauren Smith. All four entries were framed and will hang in the Federal Building for the upcoming year. These finalists each received $50, a certificate, and their photo featured both online and in a Beaumont magazine. In addition, Shelby Williams' work was selected as the 3rd place over-all winner and she received $500. All four were photographed and honored by the district and magistrate judges in Beaumont.
The annual Law Day Art Contest Awards Ceremony was held April 23, where they announced the winners. LCM High School winners, from Left to Right: Brianna Cart, Honorable Mention, Bailee Burnettsecond place and $750.00 winner, Betsy Kaufman, teacher, Shannon Boozer, Honorable Mention, and Abby Turner, Honorable Mention. Honorable mention winners won a $50.00 gift card. All the artwork was framed and will be hanging on the second floor of the Jack Brooks Federal Court House, in Beaumont, for the next year.
|A reception for retiring Pinehurst city manager Joe Parkhurst was held Friday. Joining the party from left: Councilman John Zerko, Councilman Dan Mohon, Parkhurst, Mayor Pete Runnels, and city attorney Tommy Gunn.|
|Orangefield's Scarlett Neely and Victor Vuong competed in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Oratory Contest. In the county-wide contest, Neely was named the Second Place winner, and Vuong was the Third Place winner.|