First homicide of the year close to wrapping up

Victim: Ronnie Dewayne Kemp. Courtesy: Smith Co. Jail
Victim: Ronnie Dewayne Kemp. Courtesy: Smith Co. Jail

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The bleeding body of Ronnie Kemp, 48, was discovered shortly before midnight in W.E. Winters Park, Monday night.

Officer Don Martin with the Tyler Police Department said it's the city's first homicide, and investigators hope to have it solved, quickly.

Kemp's body was found just yards from where children would later gather for Vacation Bible School classes.

"It's scary," said one nearby resident.

The resident asked to remain anonymous, but tells us she saw a white, four-door sedan leaving the park just moments before police discovered the body.

Officer Don Martin said the police are following every possible lead.

"We don't believe that we're dealing with anyone that's just out in the parks," said Martin.  "We do believe the victim and assailant knew each other."

Martin told us Kemp suffered severe trauma to his body.

"Sometimes, you could be at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Willie Wells, Kemp's next-door neighbor.

Wells told us Kemp was living alone.  We learned he and his wife were separated.

Wells said he spoke with police at Kemp's home, early Tuesday morning, thinking his neighbor had been robbed.   Wells said he was told his neighbor had been shot at another location.

A quick search of the Smith County judicial website revealed Kemp has been jailed before on drug possession charges and for domestic violence.

Wells said the neighbor he knew was a nice man--a good neighbor.  "He's going to be missed," said Wells.

An autopsy has been ordered.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.