Perjury is a criminal offense, right? Not for some folks in Leon County, Texas. Diedre Kyle and Ben Partlou are apparently among the elite few who may perjure themselves without any repercussions. These two are “witnesses” to the forged will of Janice Lee Robeson Willhelm.
On December 8, 2010, Janice Willhelm, Jan to her friends and family, was allegedly discovered by her husband after she had shot herself in the neck. A lot of information is available to the public regarding this obvious homicide. After Jan’s death, her husband requested that the Walters Funeral Home, located in Centerville, Texas, cremate the body and bury it in a local cemetery without a marker. Her children were able to circumvent his plan, and held a funeral themselves and erected a marker for their mother. Shortly thereafter, they realized that she had left no will and filed an Affidavit of Heirship through a local attorney to attempt to keep their mother’s property, a mere seven acres and a small frame house, with the rest of the family property as it was connected and adjacent. After filing the affidavit, the children were told by informants within the county system that a will was being probated and being done so secretly. They were shocked! They telephoned the Leon County Clerk’s office, as did their attorney. This garnered them the attention of Christy Wakefield, the county clerk. She is the daughter of the man who was Sheriff of Leon County at the time – Jerry Wakefield. It was Jerry Wakefield who ruled that Gerald Willhelm be cleared by exception at the scene of Jan’s death, and ran interference on any kind of investigation being done.
Ms. Wakefield charmingly told Jan’s children that as far as she knew no will was being probated, but that she would be happy to let them know if one was filed. She never did. A will was filed and they had a hearing on it in April, as both witnesses testified. It is stamped July 19, 2011, and that day Leon County Judge Ryder approved it, despite the fact that Jan’s children had by that time filed a lawsuit contesting the forged will. We have a copy of the stamped will posted here, and we recommend you take a look at it. According to the witnesses to the will, they all signed it on June 10, 2009, a year and a half before Jan’s death. A notice was posted in the newspaper regarding the probate of the will, but since not very many people read the Centerville newspaper it was obviously only done for show. The claim is that the forged will slipped through unnoticed, but with the newspaper ad, and the fact that Jan’s children as well as their attorney were calling every week, it is incomprehensible, if not downright suspicious, that the forged will “slipped through the cracks.” How many wills are filed and probated on the same day?
The witnesses to the will are just one of the many things that make the forgery blatantly obvious. These witnesses, Mr. Ben Partlou and Ms. Diedre Kyle, testified in County Court the day the will was probated. Mr. Partlou testified that he was personally acquainted with Janice Willhelm and was familiar with her handwriting, and that he personally witnessed her sign that will. Ms. Kyle also testified her acquaintance and familiarity with Jan and her handwriting and she witnessed her sign the document. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the will is not notarized, especially since the signing location has a notary. It is believed by those investigating this case that the forged will was signed after Jan’s death, probably at her house. As previously discussed, handwriting experts have stated that the signature on the forged will is NOT Jan’s.
Fast forward to 2014, when Jan’s children hired their own dynamic duo, fighters for truth, Skip and Eric. To this day they are still crusading against corruption in Leon County in other cases of suspicious deaths. There isn’t a shortage of suspicious deaths over there to keep them plenty busy. In 2015, Skip and Eric visited with Ben Partlou and Diedre Kyle a few times and took a recorded statement at one point. Each time both stated they had never met Jan until the day of the signing of the will. In the recorded statement, Ben likes not tor remember anything about it and prefers to deny signing anything. Diedre becomes very nervous and blurts out she did not see Jan sign the will. So, basically they both filed false papers with the court, gave false testimony, and committed perjury. Yes, we know that a statement given to a private investigator isn’t exactly official. But wait, there’s more! In 2016, a deposition was taken from each of them. Ben hid behind saying he just did not remember anything, while Diedre changed her story to not having seen anyone sign anything. When Gerald was found dead and Diedre was found to be a co-heir to his estate, which comprised Jan’s estate, she lost no time in signing forms and obtaining an attorney in Crockett, Texas. She must not have wanted anyone to question the legality of her claim to Jan’s estate through Gerald based on her lying about whether or not she knew Jan or had seen her sign the probated will.
The fact that Partlou and Kyle had obviously committed perjury and falsified documents was brought to the attention of the local authorities in Leon County as well as the Texas Ranger assigned to the case. Based on the lack of attention paid to these accusations, it is safe to conclude that the local authorities do not care. Does this mean that anyone can file false papers and forge a will in Leon County? Our sources say no, that only the select few in whom the powers that be have a vested interest are allowed such privileges. One has to ask why this is, and what sort of personal problem the authorizes have with Jan’s children, to deny them seeing justice for their mother and rightful ownership of her estate that should have come to them? Or whether it’s nothing personal and simply that Jan’s children stand in the way of them scratching the backs of petty criminals who will be in line to do them a favor? Or could the end game be for the authorities who have obstructed justice to end up with the property?
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more information and questions.