An explosion at the West Fertilizer plant devastated the small Texas town in April.
DA Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia in happier times, before being gunned down in their home in March 2013.
This piece of debris found in Buna, Texas, was possibly a piece of debris from a Chinese rocket that broke up over East Texas.
EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -
It's always surprising to reach the end of a year and to realize how much has happened in the past twelve months. So much happens every day that the months speed by; let's slow down for a few minutes to take a look back at the stories that impacted many of us across East Texas in 2013.
First, you might say that East Texas rocked this year; or that it was rocked, literally, by several earthquakes. The United States Geological Survey reported over a half dozen, beginning in January of 2013. The majority of the earthquakes occurred near the Timpson area, about 25 miles north of Nacogdoches, though people miles away reported feeling the rumbles under their feet. There was great debate over whether the quakes are caused by fracking in oilfields. One expert we spoke with said the earthquakes could be caused by aftershocks from other quakes, fracking, or just Mother Nature shifting a bit.
On April 16, 2013, a massive, deadly explosion ripped through the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas. Fourteen lives were lost in the blast, and many others were injured. Fifty to 60 homes were heavily damaged, according to West Mayor Tommy Muska, as well as a nursing home, 50-unit apartment building, businesses and a school. Gov. Perry declared West a disaster area. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the force of the explosion through the air was greater than a 2.1 earthquake. The exact cause of the explosion has not been confirmed.
Also this year, a jury found former Tyler dentist Bobby Nichols guilty of the murder of his wife, Rosalind. Nichols was accused of shooting the 71-year-old woman in their South Tyler home on June 29, 2012. The jury reached the guilty verdict in January 2013 on the charge of murder after deliberating for just over an hour. Because the jury decided that the murder was a crime of passion, Nichols received a 20-year sentence as opposed to a life sentence in prison.
The AMS says that the fiery display was caused by the re-entry and disintegration of the Chinese rocket body CZ-4B, which was launched on May 10, 2012, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China. Pieces of the rocket were found in various places, including Buna, Texas, a town in Jasper County.
Back in May, Tyler Police released the names of 21 suspects they believed had stolen more than $24,000 from 42 unsuspecting victims. According to some attorneys representing the nearly-two-dozen-defendants, the ring stole sensitive information like names addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers. Then, the leaders of the ring hired young women to falsely apply for loans, paying them from the profit. They would then deposit that money into different bank accounts and spend the cash. They're also accused of buying and selling cell phones in other peoples' names to make a profit.
Three members of the alleged theft ring have already been sentenced. Those people are Christopher Pipkins, Shavonda Jones and Kendallyn Adams. They received punishments ranging from 10 years community supervision to 25 years in prison.
There are still 15 more pending cases in this large identity theft ring.
The year came to a violent end when two people died as the result of a stabbing at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview on November 26. Nurse Gail Sandidge heard a disturbance in the day surgery center where she was working with patients, and went to assist. She was stabbed in the chest by 22-year-old Kyron Templeton, who was there with his mother who was scheduled to have surgery.
Templeton also stabbed Harris Teel, Sr., who later died from his injuries, as well as Teresa Allison and Karen Bobo, who were treated and released.