Man indicted in kidnapping of 2 girls
A federal grand jury in Austin on Tuesday indicted Terry Miles, 44, in the kidnapping of two Round Rock girls whose mother was found slain in their home in December.
The girls were recovered unharmed in a car with Miles near La Veta, Colo., on Jan. 3. Miles is a person of interest in the death of their mother, 44-year-old Tonya Bates, police have said. Miles, who was Bates’ roommate, was indicted on two counts of kidnapping and faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.
Round Rock police were alerted Dec. 30 after Bates did not show up for work, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office.
Officers found her body inside her house Dec. 31. She had suffered from blunt force trauma, the release says. She was the only person inside the house and her car — a 2017 Hyundai Accent — was missing, police said.
Her two daughters, Lilianais Victoria Griffith, 14, and Luluvioletta Bandera-Margret, 7, also were missing.
Miles’ mother received a text message from a phone that belonged to one of the girls at 1 a.m. Dec. 30, the news release says.
Round Rock police also found one of the girls’ phones in a heavily wooded area near a Walmart store in Round Rock.
Surveillance video from the store showed what appeared to be Miles purchasing numerous camping items and then leaving the store in a vehicle appearing to match Bates’s car, the release says. Investigators traced the vehicle and a cell phone belonging to one of the girls headed to Colorado.
Deputies with the Las Animas County sheriff’s office arrested Miles with the girls during a traffic stop near La Veta on Jan. 3.
Claire Osborn, American-Statesman
Man found dead after house fire
A man was found dead inside a Northeast Austin house after a fire Monday night, Austin fire officials said.
Firefighters responded around 9:30 p.m. to the 9500 block of Middle Fiskville Road to find a heavy fire showing from the house, Austin fire officials said. By 10 p.m., most of the fire had been extinguished.
Investigators were not immediately able to determine his cause of death or age, officials said. The joint investigation by firefighters and police into the death at the home in the 9500 block of Middle Fiskville Road is ongoing, officials said.
The structure was a total loss, officials said, adding that the fire caused an estimated $115,000 in property damage and $20,000 in damage to contents inside the home.
— Katie Hall, American-Statesman
Police: SWAT finds man dead after standoff
A man was found dead around 9 p.m. inside a South Austin house that a SWAT team had surrounded hours earlier on Monday, Austin police said.
After urging the man to come out via megaphone for several hours, SWAT officers navigated a robot with a camera into the house in the 3000 block of Fontana Drive. Once the camera was inside, officers could see that the man had “trauma to his body and was deceased,” Officer Bino Cadenas said.
Police have not released further details about how the man died.
The incident started when a woman with a bloodied face raced to her neighbor’s house, police said. The neighbor called 911 around 4 p.m., and the woman was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, officials said.
Investigators got preliminary information that the man who possibly assaulted her was possibly armed and was still inside the Fontana Drive house, Austin police said.
A SWAT team was called out and started talking to the man over a megaphone to come out.
Police evacuated adjacent houses, and Austin school district police responded to the nearby Dawson Elementary School to monitor the situation there, police said. Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 9 p.m.
— Katie Hall, American-Statesman
Police: Man tried to bribe officers after I-35 crashes
A man who was among several people who were arrested early Sunday after multiple crashes on Interstate 35 told police he’d give them $20 to let him go.
The move led officers to charge the man, 19-year-old Marc Samudio, with bribery.
An arrest affidavit said he was a passenger in a car driven by Heliodoro Arias-Flores that blew past emergency vehicles working a wreck on I-35 and slammed into a Jeep.
Arias Flores was later charged with intoxication assault.
The document says Samudio resisted a search and refused to get out of the car after the crash.
When police pulled him out, they found marijuana and cocaine on him, the affidavit says.
The report said that after Samudio tried to bribe officers at the hospital, he asked them if it would be possible for him to “sneak out of here,” the affidavit says.
— Mark D. Wilson, American-Statesman
APD officer cleared in roadside shooting
A Burnet County grand jury declined Tuesday to take action against an Austin police officer whose actions officials say likely saved a family of three from harm following a road rage incident in late November.
District Attorney Sonny McAfee said that based on his review, Officer Jason Jewett’s actions were “lawful and justified.”
“It was tremendous that Officer Jewett happened along when he did,” McAfee said. “His actions were extremely helpful.”
Police say a 55-year-old man was shooting at a vehicle with a family of three inside along FM 1431, about eight miles east of Marble Falls.
That’s when Jewett arrived on the scene and shot the suspect twice to stop him. That man was injured and arrested on aggravated assault charges, which are still pending, McAfee said.
It’s still unclear what specifically made the man start shooting.
An Austin police internal affairs investigation is still ongoing, but it is expected to be completed soon.
— Tony Plohetski, American-Statesman
Police: Man with bat surrenders after SWAT call
A SWAT standoff in South Austin on Tuesday morning ended peacefully after a man with a bat surrendered to authorities.
Officers were first called out to a disturbance at a home in the 6300 block of Shadow Bend around 8:20 a.m. They arrived to find the man holding a bat and refusing to come out.
Members of the SWAT team spoke to the man for about 30 minutes, and he surrendered.
Police spokeswoman Officer Destiny Winston said the man was taken to an area hospital to be checked out. It was unclear whether he would face any charges.
— Mark D. Wilson, American-Statesman
Man charged with online solicitation of a minor
A Cedar Park man is accused of trying to have sex with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl but was really an undercover police officer, an affidavit says.
Fennis Rodriguez, 33, was charged with online solicitation of a minor. Rodriguez began sending texts Jan. 24 to a Georgetown police officer posing as a ninth-grade 15-year-old girl online, the affidavit says. It says the officer posing as the teenager and Rodriguez sent about 400 text messages to each other. The officer posing as the teen said several times in the messages that she was only 15, the affidavit says.
Rodriguez asked the fake 15-year-old to skip school and meet him, according to the affidavit. It says the next day Rodriguez told the officer posing as the girl that he wanted to have sex with her at a park on Booty’s Crossing Road in Georgetown. When Rodriguez arrived at the location Jan. 25 he was arrested, the affidavit says.
Rodriguez was released Jan. 26 from the Williamson County Jail after posting $8,000 bail.
— Claire Osborn, American-Statesman