Interview, slip of tongue result in arrest in cold case after 11 years

Interview, slip of tongue result in arrest in cold case after 11 years
Jarrett Murray (Source: Rusk Co. Jail)
Jarrett Murray (Source: Rusk Co. Jail)

RUSK COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An interview with a long sought after witness, and a slip of the tongue by a suspect, resulted in an arrest in an 11-year old East Texas murder case.

In May 2006, Rusk County authorities discovered the body of 20-year old Joseph Michael Douglas off a remote oil pipeline road. Since then, investigators have spent countless hours looking for evidence and searching for witnesses, but  it was never enough to identify a suspect...until about four weeks ago.

Investigators finally found the man they were looking for through hard work, and a lucky break. For Gayle Thompson, it has been 11 long years, waiting for any news about who murdered her son Joseph.

"It's been hard. Joe has children, they're teenagers now. They were small when the murder happened. Is anything happening? No," she says.

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Chief Deputy Charles Helton has been working the case from the very beginning.

"My name was on this case from day one. We had very little evidence. Very little information. When I got this case, my daughter was about to turn three, and she's now 13. Every time Mr. Douglas' birthday came around, I knew it," he says.

Though there was little movement, Gayle never gave up.

"Is there somebody else we haven't thought of yet?" Thompson says.

Six months ago, investigators tracked down a witness they had long been looking for in El Paso.

"The person in El Paso helped corroborate things we already knew. This particular person had information back in 2006, but at the time was afraid to come forward," Helton says.

That led them to Baytown, Texas, and Jarrett Murray, who they say did law enforcement a favor.

"Mr. Murray had bragged to several people about the murder of Joseph," says Helton.

Murray was arrested and charged with Joseph Douglas' murder.

"Mr. Helton came to me, said, 'I wanted to come tell you in person, we got him.' It was almost hard to believe," Gayle says.

Thompson says she remembers Murray showing up at her son's memorial.

"He came. He said, 'I just want to tell you one thing. Joe really loved you and his sisters and his kids,'" says Gayle.

Texas Rangers were instrumental in doing much of the traveling to interview witnesses, and helped in the arrest of Murray. Jarrett Murray remains in the Rusk County Jail on more than $2 million bond.

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