Are the Texas Rangers impeding a murder investigation?

by Ty Clevenger

Back in November, I blogged about a Texas Ranger who was assigned to investigate the murder of Longview businessman Ron Horaney, then demoted after his supervisors learned about his affair with Mr. Horaney’s widow.

Things have only gotten stranger since.

On Friday, I faxed a letter to Gregg County District Attorney Tom Watson and U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown requesting an FBI investigation into whether law enforcement officers were involved in the murder. As explained in that letter, I was contacted by the ex-wife of a state trooper who suspected her ex was the trigger man.

Yeah, I found that pretty difficult to believe at first, but keep reading.       Here is the text of the letter:

Mr. Brown and Mr. Watson:

On Friday, I faxed a letter to Gregg County District Attorney Tom 

I am a civil rights attorney and blogger (LawFlog.com) who lives in New York but mostly practices in Texas. On November 27, 2018, I filed a federal lawsuit in Austin on behalf of Darren Lubbe, a retired Department of Public Safety agent, and it mentioned the murder of Longview businessman Ron Horaney in passing. See Darren Lubbe v. Mark Milanovich, et al., Case No. 18-cv-1011-RP (W.D.Tex.). In particular, it mentioned the fact that one of the Texas Rangers investigating the murder, Brent Davis, had been romantically involved with Mr. Horaney’s widow.

The Longview News-Journal published a story about the lawsuit on November 28 [2018], and shortly thereafter I received a phone call from a woman in Cherokee County who wondered whether her ex-husband may have been involved in the murder. Heather Metzig was previously married to DPS Trooper Tyson Metzig, and she claimed that he had been under investigation by Ranger Davis at the time of the murder. As you probably know, Ranger Davis was removed from the case and demoted after DPS learned about his affair with Mr. Horaney’s widow.

According to Ms. Metzig, her husband looked very similar to the official sketch of the murder suspect [see photo above]. She said she found an article online suggesting that Mr. Horaney had been shot with a compact AR-15, and she said her ex-husband owned one. I did not pursue the issue further based on the information that she gave me at that time. In mid-June, however, Ms. Metzig contacted me with additional information. She said her eight-year-old daughter had a Gmail account that had been used on one of Trooper Metzig’s Android phones, and through that Gmail account she was able to look at the GPS tracking information from his phone on the date of the murder. According to Ms. Metzig, the GPS data shows Trooper Metzig traveling from Cherokee County to the site of the murder on the date of the murder. I have attached the information that she emailed to me.

I compared the sketch of the murder suspect with a photograph of Trooper Metzig, and he does look a lot like the man in the sketch. I shared Ms. Metzig’s information with a retired FBI agent in Tyler, and he said someone from the Tyler office would be getting in touch with me soon. That was two weeks ago, and I still have not heard anything. As of July 5, 2019, Ms. Metzig has not been contacted by anyone from the FBI, either.

Ms. Metzig said she shared the information with Ranger Josh Jenkins of Longview, and he initially appeared to be very excited about it, but he soon told her that Trooper Metzig could not have been involved in the murder because he was working a DWI in Cherokee County on the evening of the murder. Ms. Metzig said she checked arrest records in Cherokee County, but there was no indication that Trooper Metzig had worked a DWI case that evening. On July 2, 2019, I filed an open records request to determine whether Trooper Metzig was working on the day of the murder and whether he made any arrests.

Ms. Metzig said shortly after she reported the GPS data to Ranger Jenkins, her ex-husband filed a criminal complaint with the Jacksonville Police Department accusing her of illegally accessing his phone. She said she did not know how Trooper Metzig would have learned about her access to his GPS data unless someone from the Rangers had told him about it.

According to Ms. Metzig, Ranger Davis told her before the murder of Ron Horaney that he was planning to seek five felony charges against Trooper Metzig. Three years later, no charges have been filed, and that suggests a possible motive for murder, i.e., Ranger Davis burying the charges against Trooper Metzig in exchange for Trooper Metzig eliminating the husband of Ranger Davis’s mistress.

I should note that I am only relaying what Ms. Metzig told me. I have not tried to corroborate her information yet (other than the open records request), but I respectfully suggest that somebody unaffiliated with DPS needs to do just that. If you have listened to DPS’s investigative interview of Ranger Davis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QCRw0CpmA8&feature=youtu.be), you know that it is somewhat of a joke. It lasts less than 30 minutes, and Ranger Davis is never treated as a potential homicide suspect.

Based on what I have learned from representing DPS personnel, I cannot exclude the possibility that DPS commanders would compromise a murder investigation in order to save DPS (and particularly the Rangers Division) from embarrassment. I respectfully suggest that Mr. Watson or Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano invite the FBI to assist in the murder investigation. I further suggest that Mr. Brown initiate a federal investigation to determine whether law enforcement officers were involved in the murder.

 I should also mention Ms. Metzig’s fiance, Jeremy Beall, who has been investigating Trooper Metzig as well. According to Mr. Beall and Ms. Metzig, two rangers and one former ranger have quietly recommended that they take their information to the FBI. So why isn’t the FBI taking their information?

Ms. Metzig and Mr. Beall point out that DPS Director Steven McCraw was a high-ranking FBI agent in Texas before he retired to work for the state. I wouldn’t have given much weight to that fact but for my own dealings with Col. McCraw since 2015. As I reported in 2017, for example, Trooper Billy Spears (one of my clients) obtained clear evidence that a senior DPS commander forged documents, and Billy provided that evidence to Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd. Mr. Byrd then referred the case to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Rather than have his own agency investigate the case, however, Mr. Paxton referred the case back to DPS to investigate itself. DPS assigned the case to its Rangers Division and, naturally, the Rangers promptly closed the criminal investigation. How convenient.

In the last 18 months, I’ve heard from a lot of current and former DPS personnel – including a couple of former rangers – who are disgusted by what they witnessed while working for the agency. On Saturday, I shared my letter about the Horaney murder with one of the former rangers, and he texted me the following morning: “Amazing. 5 years ago I would have thought you are crazy. Today, I do not feel that way.” All of this has only reinforced my opinion that Col. McCraw and his command staff are far more concerned about protecting the DPS’s image than its integrity.

CROWD SOURCING A MURDER INVESTIGATION

I’m no expert on cell phones or IT, so I’ve uploaded the GPS data that Ms. Metzig and Mr. Beall provided to me in hopes of crowdsourcing some answers. The files indicate that the cell phone user left the murder scene about an hour before the murder occurred. Could that be explained by an incorrect time-zone setting? My email is tyclevenger at yahoo dot com.

GETTING PAID TO DO WHAT?

A couple of my DPS sources have told me that Mr. Davis, the former ranger, no longer has any known job duties. They tell me he wears a trooper uniform but sits in an office all day at DPS headquarters in Tyler. According to state records compiled by the Texas Tribune, he is paid $75,968 per year.

Update on Horaney murder investigation

I’ve never deleted a blog post before, but this evening I removed my July 8, 2019 blog post about the 2016 murder of Ron Horaney in Gregg County, Texas. Here’s why.

First, I confirmed that federal authorities are looking into the murder, and I’m quite content to let them do their thing. As I’ve previously reported, one of the Texas Rangers investigating the murder was caught having an affair with Mr. Horaney’s widow. Former Ranger Brent Davis claimed the affair did not start until after the murder, but the Texas Department of Public Safety essentially allowed Mr. Davis to exonerate himself.

To say the least, Mr. Davis has some credibility problems. In his statements to DPS’s internal investigators, he said Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano told him that the affair would not prevent the sheriff from seeking Mr. Davis’s assistance in the future. When that statement became public, the sheriff sharply disputed it. That alone should have prompted much closer scrutiny of Mr. Davis’s story, and lets hope the feds give him the scrutiny that he so richly deserves.

The subject of credibility takes me to my second reason for deleting the July 8, 2019 post. Today I was contacted by two people who raised significant concerns about the credibility of Trooper Tyson Metzig’s accusers. At present, I am not expressing an opinion one way or another about the information that was provided to me, but of course that may change as I get more information. If I got something wrong, then I will take my lumps in public.

For now, I am grateful that the feds are involved, and I hope they can provide closure for the Horaney family and everyone else involved.