Weatherford Democrat

January 2, 2014

2013 in Review

A look back at 2013 through the year’s top stories as compiled by the WD staff

CNHI News Service

NUMBER ONE – Earthquakes shake up Parker County

An epidemic of low-magnitude earthquakes — mainly in northeast Parker County, raise questions about a link to the injection wells used by gas drillers to dispose of fracking waste. Scientists report the fluids — pumped into the wells under pressure — might release the natural stress built up on fault lines, triggering the quakes.

Citizens’ response to the ground shakers — which now number two dozen in the county and some 30 across the region including Tarrant and Palo Pinto counties — sent Parker County commissioners and others to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, for answers.

A town hall meeting about the area ground shakers is set for 5 p.m. Thursday at Azle High School.

Industry experts are mixed on whether fracking, a process used to extract natural gas from the area’s layer of shale, or the subsequent injection of fluids and chemicals used in the fracking process back into the ground could be the cause for the area’s relatively mild earthquakes, most of them registering below 3.0 magnitude with several above that, as high as 3.6 magnitude. No injuries or significant property damage have been reported as a result of the series of quakes, which began in early November.

The U.S. Geological Survey and Southern Methodist University recently placed monitors in areas of northeast Parker County and have identified an area between Reno and Reno as the epicenter for the more recent earthquakes recorded, saying they are generally occurring at a considerably shallow depth of about 2-4 miles below ground level.

NUMBER TWO – Bearcats roll to another state football title

One word – domination.

That describes the Aledo Bearcats’ 2013 undefeated, record-setting football season that culminated with a Class 4A, Division II state championship on Dec. 22 at AT&T Stadium in a 38-10 win over the Brenham Cubs.

In winning its fourth football title in five years, the school’s fifth overall, Aledo (16-0) set a national scoring record, outscoring its opponents on the season 1,023-140. That is an average margin of victory of 64-12, rounded up.

Bearcats placekicker Chance Nevarez ended his year with a state and national record 207 consecutive PATs. Nevarez also holds the state and national high for PATs in a single season, finishing with 132. The senior kicker and his unit also hold the state mark for career points-after, with 305.

So dominant were the Bearcats – whose wins included a 44-3 drubbing of Class 4A, Division I powerhouse Highland Park, and a 56-14 smearing of Class 3A, Division I perennial juggernaut Stephenville – that an official bullying complaint was filed against the school, reportedly by the parent of a Western Hills player following Aledo’s 91-0 win in which the Bearcats’ starters, as was the case in many of Aledo’s games throughout the season, played just one half before giving way to the backups.

Aledo ISD officials investigated and found no basis for the formal bullying complaint – possibly made in jest or as a prank – and even sent a letter to the University Interscholastic League asking AHS go into a more competitive district to try and avoid the football blowouts recorded this season.

Several Bearcats’ players were named to WD’s 2013 All-Parker County team, including junior quarterback Luke Bishop and wideout Ryan Newsome, who were named co-Most Valuable Players on the APC team.

NUMBER THREE – Iceaggedon 2013 brings area to its frozen knees

Parker County and all of North Texas was encased in ice in early December.

Residents woke up the morning of Friday, Dec. 6, to find their cars and the ground covered in anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of ice and sleet, and in some areas more than that. The unfamiliarity of dealing with such adverse weather caused a number of cars to spin out and several very minor accidents. The thick, rocky accumulation led to the term “cobblestone ice” on area roadways, and any motorists who tried driving on it knew what that meant.

In anticipation of the storm, residents invaded local grocery stores, purchasing the essentials and then hunkered down. Fortunately, no Weatherford residents lost power for any extended time, according to city officials.

Truckers, unable to move because of delays in other counties, literally parked their vehicles on the interstate and on exit ramps and rode the storm out.

Many truckers said this was the worst weather they had seen in many years in the business. Aledo was forced to cancel its Region I Final a number of times before finally playing the following Monday, Dec. 9.

Schools were closed for days, as temperatures took their sweet time to rise above freezing. City and county crews were able to sand main arterial roads to get them passable but the smaller county roads needed about a week before residents could travel on them.

NUMBER FOUR – Tornadoes sweep across Parker County, N. Texas

It was a dark stormy night.

No, that is not the opening sentence to a best-selling novel but a description of the evening of May 15, when powerful, tornado-spawning storms swept across Parker County and North Texas.

The storms began to build west of Mineral Wells and multiplied and intensified as they marched east and northeast. Residents in Mineral Wells saw up to grapefruit-size hail that damaged homes, vehicles and businesses. Storm spotters then verified a cyclone on the ground west of Millsap and watched as the funnel danced into the west Parker County community, damaging several homes and outhouses.

Other funnels and clouds with rotation were reported across the county, including damage to structures on Tin Top Road and in the Cresson community south of Weatherford. There were no reports of injuries in the county. The same could not be said for the residents of Granbury, where a tornado ripped apart homes, killing six people. Cleburne and other parts of Johnson County also sustained damage from winds and twisters that continued into East Texas causing more death and destruction.

May was a very active tornado month in the region, including a massive tornado that struck Moore, Okla., a suburb south of Oklahoma City, causing widespread destruction while killing two dozen people and injuring at least one hundred more.

Mother Nature delivered a powerful punch Wednesday evening through a complex of super cell storms that produced tornadoes, large hail and wreaked havoc across North Texas.

One of the hardest-hit areas was in and around Granbury, where homes were reported destroyed with multiple people injured. Officials were reportedly conducting rescues of people from debris and looking for other trapped in rubble. Cleburne in Johnson County was also being pounded around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

NUMBER FIVE – Aledo bullies

A Fort Worth parent’s complaint that Aledo ISD football coaches bullied their own players into racking up an excessive number of points against a Western Hills High School team — alleging harm to the opposing team — is in the national spotlight in October after the Bearcats trounce Western Hills 91-0.

Fielding questions from TV stations and print media — including USA Today — Aledo Head Coach Tim Buchanan counters by saying Aledo coaches tried to help the other team score by using their second team and running the clock during the Bearcats’ offense. He maintains, however, that his players should not be asked to play poorly to make another team look better.

An investigation conducted by school officials shows no evidence of bullying, according to school officials.

NUMBER SIX – WISD bond fails

In late February, the Weatherford ISD board of trustees made the move to officially call for a bond election. The board made the decision to go on the May 11 ballot with a bond amount of $107.3 million to improve security, expand technology and to pay for new construction projects, including a rearrangement of students from the Ninth Grade Center, high school and middle schools.

All of the proposed capital improvements were included under one proposition, as a pass-all or fail-all issue. Both supporters and protesters of the bond expressed their opinions through letters to the editor, various meetings around the city and even creating and joining groups, such as the Citizens Against WISD Bond. Demonstrators on both sides lined Santa Fe Drive outside the Parker County Courthouse Annex building the day of the election.

Ultimately, voters said no to the bond, voting 3,873-1,745 against it.

In August, Weatherford ISD superintendent Jeffrey Hanks wrote that plans to address crowding issues were being temporarily fixed by adding portable classrooms and buildings to various campuses.

NUMBER SEVEN – Alleged drug, theft rings broken

Following execution of search warrants at four locations in Parker County in April, a dozen suspects were charged with organized crime regarding allegations suspects engaged with each other in organized crime by stealing more than $100,000 in property or delivering methamphetamine in Parker County.

Those arrested were believed responsible for crimes that include attempting to steal an ATM from a bank in Cool using a stolen truck, burglaries and thefts at Azle-area restaurants, and burglaries at Morrison Supply Company in Weatherford and numerous vehicle, trailer and equipment thefts in Parker County and surrounding areas.

About 2.5 ounces of methamphetamine was located during a traffic stop of 43-year-old James Carroll Mathews during the investigation, as well as a smaller amount of cocaine, investigators allege.

A Weatherford-Parker County Special Crimes Unit investigator said they believe Mathews was one of the primary leaders in the groups and most of the property and methamphetamine funneled through him.

Mathews directed many of the suspects involved in the property crimes and provided the suspects methamphetamine, according to the investigator..

More than $125,000 in stolen property was recovered during the investigation, according to an investigator.

NUMBER EIGHT – Pickaxe slaying, conviction

A Weatherford man pleaded guilty in July to capital murder for the brutal killing of 24-year-old John “J.D.” Daniel Doss II in January, receiving a sentence of life without parole.

Nicholas “Nick” David Camfield, 25, admitted to slaying Doss, who had been a friend of Camfield’s, at a home near Springtown where Doss, an apprentice lineman, was house-sitting.

Prosecutors believe Camfield killed Doss with a pickaxe to the head and neck the evening of Jan. 13, mutilated his body over the next several days and drove Doss’ truck to eat a meal with Camfield’s mother before returning to the home.

Days after the killing, on Jan. 16, a friend of Doss’ went to check on him at the residence in the 200 block of Valley Meadows Drive and saw blood on Camfield and in the kitchen and what he believed to be a body in one of the bedrooms.

Camfield did not tell investigators why he killed Doss but did say that the two had argued over drugs, believed to be marijuana or K2, according to prosecutors.

“We believe justice in this case required that the defendant never be released back into the public,” Assistant District Attorney Nikki Rhodes said. “There were many facts about this murder that were disturbing. However, deeper investigation into the defendant’s mental health history explained some of the unusual facts investigators found at the crime scene.

Other details of the murder are simply inexplicable. Despite some history of mental illness and drug use, the defendant acknowledged he knew what he was doing at the time of the crime when he entered his guilty plea.”

Camfield began exhibiting signs of schizophrenia after he began using heroin sometime prior to June 2010, according to Rhodes, and Weatherford law enforcement officers who interacted with Camfield on a couple of occasions in 2012 noted that Camfield appeared to have some mental health issues.

However, his defense team told the judge they believed him to be competent to stand trial and did not raise an insanity defense.

Camfield is also believed to have possibly caused a fire a month earlier that destroyed a vacant Weatherford ISD administrative building where he had been staying.

NUMBER NINE – Teskey’s raid

The popular Teskey’s Saddle Shop in Weatherford and neighboring business, Bar H Equine, were closed for a day on Aug. 28 as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents executed search warrants stemming from a three-year criminal investigation.

Former employees accused the business of removing federally required labels from imported products to mislead customers about where the items were made, though both businesses denied the accusations, stating they did not know the labeling requirements.

Two former employees of Teskey’s Saddle Shop, identified as the importer for “Teskey’s” and “Bar H Equine” branded merchandise, reported in April 2010 that they had been instructed to remove labeling from various items before displaying them for sale and to tell customers that the saddlery items were made by Teskey’s in Texas, according to a special agent’s sworn statement.

Officials said they tracked several shipments to Teskey’s of items that were labeled “Made in India” and later collected hundreds of discarded “Made in India” labels from the trash bin outside the business.

During visits to Teskey’s, special agents reportedly observed hundreds of products with no foreign country of origin labeling, many displaying Teskey’s labeling and branding stamp and some with Bar H Equine labeling.

“Teskey’s” branded tack on display throughout Teskey’s Saddle Shop during a June visit did not have country of origin labels, and an employee said she did not know where a breast collar was made, Walker wrote.

Asked if the belts labeled “Teskey’s” were made locally, another employee allegedly told a special agent the belts were made in the United States.

Investigators seized computers, documents, miscellaneous leather goods, belts, saddles, “Made in India” labels and a truck and trailer from the Fort Worth and Weatherford Teskey’s locations and the Bar H Equine location. 

Both companies said they were cooperating fully with ICE and had taken steps to correct the labeling issues. No one had been charged as of Tuesday.

NUMBER 10 – Photographer arrested

A photographer known for covering Weatherford ISD student sports events was arrested in October, accused of molesting a 16-year-old high school student.

Dax Morgan was charged with indecency with a child.

The sheriff’s office claims Morgan invited the girl to his house for a private photo shoot, where, the teen later told sheriff’s investigators, he took photos of her naked breasts and touched her genitals while giving her a massage.

After posting bond, Morgan was rearrested days later, charged with contacting a 15-year-old girl in violation of his bond conditions. 

Court documents state that examination of Morgan’s photography equipment seized during the investigation revealed illegal pictures of the 16-year-old girl’s breasts.

Several parents said they complained to authorities months prior to his arrest of inappropriate comments Morgan allegedly made to and regarding high school and junior high school age girls.