SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - From the Smith County Sheriff’s Office:
Since May 2, 2020, at approximately 4:50 p.m. the Smith County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating a homicide that occurred in the 16400 block of FM 850 in the Chapel Hill area. Upon arrival it was determined that the operator of the motorcycle had been shot and was deceased. Deputies immediately secured the crime scene and began gathering information.
Smith County Investigators and the Crime Scene Unit responded to the location and began their investigation. Smith County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Andy Dunklin responded to the scene to hold an inquest and ordered an autopsy on the deceased.
The victim was subsequently identified as Brandon Edwards – 33 of Ben Wheeler, Texas. Smith County Investigators, along with members of the newly created Texas Anti-Gang Unit – East Texas are actively investigating this case and have literally been working around the clock since the homicide occurred.
Information received during this investigation led to the execution of a Search Warrant in Longview this past Monday night. The Search Warrant was executed by personnel from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Longview Police Department and Texas Anti-Gang Unit.
With great tenacity and tireless efforts, investigators were successful in uncovering a great deal of information which ultimately lead to probable cause to support murder warrants and ultimately the arrests of three individuals as well as the execution of two additional search warrants in McClennan County in the cities of Hewitt and Waco. These search warrants and two of the arrest warrants were possible due to assistance received from the Smith County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, Waco Police Department and Hewitt Police Department.
Jose Antonio Valenzuela was arrested at 4:15 pm this afternoon on Interstate 20 in Cisco, Texas and is suspected to have been fleeing from Law Enforcement with his family due to the known arrests of Griffin and Tibbits. All three will be housed in the Smith County Jail with bonds of two and a half million dollars.
In the early morning hours today, 241st State District Judge Jack Skeen issued arrest warrants for the following individuals with bonds in the amount of $2,500,00.00 each:
Jeffrey Ryan Griffin of Hewitt, Texas 30 years of age – Arrested in Waco, Texas late yesterday evening
Joshua Ray Tibbits of Waco, Texas 29 years of age – Arrested in Waco, Texas late yesterday evening
Jose Antonio Valenzuela of Longview, Texas 31 years of age - Arrested in Cisco, Texas at 4:15 pm today
Sheriff Larry R. Smith stated, “I continue to be amazed at the tenacity, cohesiveness and never quit attitude of all of these law enforcement entities that are working so well together. No one is concerned with who gets the credit, only that justice is served. This is one of the more complex investigations in which we were able to join local law enforcement with the Texas Anti-Gang Unit since its inception. The TAG is already paying off big dividends.” The Texas Anti-Gang Unit East Texas is made up of employees with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler Police Department, Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office, Kilgore Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety CID & Highway Patrol, Bureau of ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration, Smith & Gregg County District Attorney’s Offices and Homeland Security Investigations.
If you have any additional information regarding this homicide please call the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 566-6600.