Two Seniors Dead In Trading Post Double Homicide - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/09/03 - Van Zandt County

Two Seniors Dead In Trading Post Double Homicide

Two Van Zandt county senior citizens are murdered, and the Sheriff's Department believes robbery was the motive.

The murders occurred in the community of Myrtle Springs, about five miles north of Canton. Bill Halbert and his girlfriend Joan Rudolph, both in their seventies, were found dead, apparently stabbed to death at Halbert's Trading Post.

It began with a call Friday afternoon from a customer at Halbert's Trading Post, who found a horrifying sight.

"Upon investigation of the scene," Van Zandt County Sheriff Pat Burnett says, "we found that we had a double homicide. That started the investigation process at that time."

In the quiet community of Myrtle Springs, bill and Joan were fixtures. His family was at that location for over twenty years. Sheriff Pat Burnett says the very nature of the business may have led to a robbery.

"He had a trading-post, car-lot-type business. Your typical East Texas trading post. There was some jewelry, some coins, some guns, anything of value that could be sold at a trading post."

Meanwhile, Myrtle Springs residents were shocked at what happened to the couple in their quiet community.

"Everybody that we know around here locked their doors, covered up windows, everything last night," says long-time resident Amber Grijalva. "That just doesn't happen around here."

The sheriff says they're treating it as a robbery, and the investigation will continue.

"The investigation is in the very beginning preliminary stages," Burnett says. "We're still going over the scene with the Texas Rangers and the Smith County Investigators."

Preliminary evidence shows the couple may have been stabbed to death, and police are investigating this as a capital murder.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.

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