On August 22, 1995, the gruesome discovery of a murdered elderly couple sent shock waves through Montgomery County, and left their devastated family asking what, and more importantly, who was responsible for the heinous act. Two decades later, they still await answers they now fear will never come.
Detective Thomas Duroy of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Squad says a family member found the bodies of 78-year-old John Marshall Stewart or his wife, Pansy Lucille Stewart, 74 together in the living room of their home in the 1100 block of Foster Drive in Conroe. He went to check on them after none of the family heard from either for a week, and someone noticed their trashcans were left by the street for days after they were emptied. Both were shot multiple times and their home was ransacked, with valuables missing. Forensics determined they were dead for approximately one week before they were found, Duroy said. Investigators with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office were unable to identify a suspect, and publicity produced no concrete leads. The case went cold. Twelve years later, MCSO’s Cold Case squad put the Stewarts on a billboard, hoping someone would come forward who had been reluctant to do so at the time of the murders. That also failed to produce a solid lead.
The Stewarts had two daughters, who lived in Beaumont, and a son who lived in Montgomery County. After John Stewart retired from Mobil Oil in Beaumont, the couple moved to their Conroe home, where John Stewart, Jr. says the Stewarts had a bad habit of leaving their doors unlocked, despite his voicing concern on more than one occasion. Stewart, who now lives on the property where his parents were murdered, also says his parents always tried to see the best in people and help people, which he thinks may have partially contributed to their demise.
“They trusted people,” he said. “They were very old school.”
John Stewart, Sr. worked outside all the time, keeping a pristine yard and growing vegetables in his garden. He had purchased a horse a short time before his death, and did all the grocery shopping since Pansy Stewart no longer drove, his son said. He also collected guns, but only for display. The couple attended church on Sundays, unless they were visiting their two daughters in Beaumont, as was the case the last weekend anyone saw them alive.
Over the years, John Jr. has developed his own theories about what happened, and he believes his parents interrupted a burglary. However, he also feels it was someone they knew, because it appeared the killer or killers took their time sorting through valuables and choosing what they would steal. Also, the tape was missing from their answering machine, and he believes the killers took it, since no one could ever find it or explain its absence.
Stewart says it seems the responsible parties had several advantages, including some factors they could not have known, such as his parents’ regular postal carrier being on vacation that week. A substitute had no way of knowing the Stewarts removed their mail from the box every day.
The family hired a private investigator, who was unable to find information that would solve the case. It was featured on television programs, in print, and has continued to circulate on various internet sites, so the problem is not lack of exposure.
“Somebody somewhere knows something,” John Stewart, Jr. said. “I can’t believe (the killers) didn’t tell anybody what they’d done or show someone what they’d stolen.”
The murders are never far from his mind.
“I think about them every day,” Stewart said. “If it was solved, it would help as far as closure.”
He says he has also had to acknowledge after two decades, his parents’ killer or killers may also be dead.
Detective Duroy is hoping this time, someone will come forward with the information that leads to answers.
“It’s a real tragedy that two elderly people were murdered in their home and to date, we don’t know who did it,” Duroy said.
The veteran investigator said it is very possible someone has information and would now be willing to share it, but doesn’t know who to call, or they knew something happened, but never knew exactly where and remained silent. He says anyone with information should contact the Cold Case Squad, or Crime Stoppers if they have concerns about remaining anonymous.
“People shouldn’t assume we already have information,” Duroy said “If they tell us something we already know, that’s fine. We’ll sift through it.”
Stolen items included:
* Man’s two-tone Rolex watch bearing serial number 1566154
* Man’s white metal ring designed from pendant of Mobil Oil emblem (red flying horse)
* Remington model 742 semi-auto 30.06 caliber rifle with scope
* A .25 caliber semi-auto handgun
* A Ball and cap .44 or .50 caliber handgun
* A .40 caliber semi-auto handgun
Where is that Hot-Shot Ranger recently promoted?
The Texas Rangers recently promoted the first Female to Captain. Wendy Wakeman joined the Texas Rangers in Conroe inn 2014 was one of them.
Wakeman is a graduate of the National Forensics Academy, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Women’s Leadership Institute and the DPS Command College. She has also completed the FBI Leadership Trilogy and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.
The couple was reportedly murdered Aug. 15, 1995 in their home, though a family member did not discover their bodies until Aug. 22, 1995.
According to an archived Courier article published Aug. 23, 1995, their nephew Ron Tullos discovered their bodies after not hearing from them for days. Even Stewart, Jr. noticed a change in pattern back in August 1995 with unanswered and unreturned phone calls but originally attributed the lack of communication to the couple’s frequent family visits to Beaumont.
Tullos said that he noticed both of their cars parked in the garage, and upon entering the house, saw John Stewart, Sr. in the living room. Once police arrived on scene, they entered and found Pansy Stewart in another part of the home.
Police were not immediately able to identify the cause of death due to the couples’ state of decomposition, though autopsies later revealed each were shot multiple times.
The nephew said there were papers scattered about and kitchen cabinets left open, with the house later discovered to have been ransacked and burglarized as well. Stolen were a man’s two tone gold Rolex watch, a 40-caliber handgun, a Remington model 742 semi-auto 30.06 rifle, a C.V.A. 31-caliber black powder handgun, a man’s white metal ring designed with a Mobil Oil emblem and assorted women’s jewelry, according to MCSO Cold Case documents.
Stewart, Jr. said his family was able to pinpoint the day by seeing the date on The Courier newspaper inside the home compared to those left undisturbed in the mailbox.
Headlines on Aug. 15, 1995 included a political spat between then-District Attorney Dan Rice and Sheriff Guy Williams, a Conroe police officer who pleaded guilty to stealing $30,000 from a department store and interpersonal lawsuits between then-administrators at the Montgomery County Hospital District.
The couple’s death would make headlines a week later, let alone for the next 20 years.
Still, with Stewart, Jr.’s hyper-realism and Ramsey’s determined optimism, investigators hope someone can bring forward an answer, or even a clue.
Wakeman’s duties in Austin will include helping oversee specialized law enforcement teams within the Rangers. Will Wakemen be looking into any of the cold cases in her former area? Don’t hold your breath.