LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The murder of Longview businessman Ronnie Horaney may have been a hired hit, according to the testimony of a former Texas Ranger who was investigating the case when he became intimately involved with Horaney’s widow.
Horaney was shot to death in May 2016 in front of family and friends at their Longview home on Tryon Road. No arrests have been made in the case.
Former Ranger Brent Davis made the statement in a recorded interview with the Office of the Inspector General. That interview was part of an internal investigation, and among records obtained from the Texas Department of Public Safety as part of an open records request.
Davis was demoted in 2017 as a result of the relationship with the widow and is currently a trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol assigned to Smith County.
Internal memos obtained from DPS show the investigation began on July 24, 2017, after “concerned family members” alerted the Texas Ranger Major Grover Huff to Davis’s involvement with Faezah Horaney.
Huff opened an informal investigation and confronted Davis, who immediately confessed to the relationship. In a case referral from Huff to Assistant Director Randall Prince, Huff notes concern “that it may have compromised an ongoing murder investigation.”
A formal investigation by the OIG began on August 11, 2017. When Davis was served with the formal complaint, records show he waived his right to a written rebuttal and requested to be interviewed immediately. That interview was conducted by Lt. Brandon Negri with the Office of the Inspector General.
“I’ve always given 100 percent. I’ve always worked to do the right thing. And this is, you know, the one screw-up I’ve made, and unfortunately, it’s a big one," Davis told Negri in the interview.
Davis told Negri that he worked on the case from May 2016 until mid-July, when he “pretty much fell out of the investigation” but was consulted from time to time.
Davis said he stayed in touch with the Horaney family and that his text conversations with Faezah Horaney turned flirtatious around Christmas 2016. The relationship continued until the following summer, when family discovered text messages between the Ranger and the widow.
When Negri asked Davis if the relationship compromised the murder investigation, Davis said, “I don’t think so. We ruled her out early.”
Then while explaining the investigation, Davis said an informant led them to investigate the Horaney murder as a hired hit.
“We actually had an informant call in and then we went and met with him, and he said ‘hey this man [redacted] tried to hire me two years ago to kill Ron Horaney,” Davis said. “And so we went with that.”
Davis said the case went cold, however, because Gregg County District Attorney Carl Dorrough declined to go after an indictment due to a lack of evidence.
“I didn’t do anything in this investigation that I did not have a Gregg County person or Ranger Mason with me. That’s just kind of the way I work,” Davis said.
Davis noted he worked with Texas Ranger Josh Mason, who is stationed in Longview, and several others with the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office.
Negri asked Davis if he foresees any conflicts about doing future investigations with Gregg County. Davis said one of the first people he spoke with after he was confronted by Major Huff was his longtime friend Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano.
“…he told me and supposedly told the major that he didn’t really give a s--- about this and he trusts me, knows the way I do things, and that this was totally out of character for me. And he told the major he’d bring me back over there tomorrow to work a murder if he had one,” Davis said.
Davis told investigators that his communication with Horaney was through his state-issued cell phone.
“We are very rarely in the office, so there’s no telling how many hundreds of people have my phone number,” Davis said.
The final report stated that “OIG believes Davis’ use of his state vehicle and state cell phone during the affair are in violation of the Department’s use of state equipment policy and should be addressed by the Texas Ranger Division.”
Davis learned the results of the internal investigation in a harshly worded letter from Prince dated November 14, 2017.
“Your actions are unbecoming of a Texas Ranger and may have jeopardized the integrity of a murder investigation,” Prince wrote.
Davis was given five days off without pay and was demoted to trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol. Records show Davis is assigned to Smith County.
Ronnie Horaney’s murder remains unsolved. Crime Stoppers is offering a $70,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of whomever is responsible.
Trooper Brent Davis did not respond to our request for an interview.
Faezah Horaney could not be reached.
DPS declined our request for an on-camera interview.