Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lake Jackson, TX: Man kills ex-wife, then himself

Lake Jackson murder-suicide followed bitter divorce, woman's lawyer says
April 23, 2010, 12:17AM
The Lake Jackson woman shot to death by her ex-husband before he killed himself during a police chase had gone through a bitter, contentious divorce from him and suffered personal attacks from him on the Internet, her attorney said on Thursday.
Melissa Meza, 34, a Dow Chemical engineer, was shot multiple times in the front yard of her home Wednesday night by 42-year-old Curtis Boone Maynard, a registered nurse, who later shot himself. The couple had been divorced for more than a year.
Maynard also shot his 16-year-old stepdaughter, Celeste Morales, in the face inside the home before fleeing in his car. Morales remains in stable condition at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
Maynard and Meza's two children, a 12-year-old girl and 2-year-old girl, fled to a neighbor's house and were not hurt, said Lake Jackson police Lt. Paul Kibodeaux
“The 12-year-old picked the 2-year-old up and ran to the neighbor's house — very brave,” Kibodeaux said.
Lenette Terry, the Angleton attorney who represented Meza in her divorce from Maynard, called the slain woman's ex-husband “a nut.”
Divorce final last year
The divorce was very contentious, Terry said Thursday. Maynard “always did crazy things,” she said. “This guy also had some horrible things about her on the Internet and he sent them to her boss at Dow — she brought the stuff in to me and she reported it to the Lake Jackson Police Department.
“She knew she had to get out of this relationship with him. She knew she had to protect her kids. And she was right,” Terry said.
Maynard and Meza met in 1996. They married in August 2005 in Brazoria County, state records show. But the marriage soured in just three years, and Meza filed for divorce in December 2008.
The former couple also had a contested temporary hearing concerning the custody of their children. “She prevailed,” Terry recalled. “He would do things like leave the infant at home when he would go walk to Randall's (grocery store).”
In an angry blog railing against his divorce attorney, Maynard claimed that he and Meza had agreed during their marriage that he would not work on weekdays so he could stay home to care for their youngest daughter, and that he would work only on weekends, which he said put a significant dent in his income. He referred to himself as the “primary caregiver” of the youngest girl and said he had sought sole custody of their two daughters.
The couple's divorce became final in March 2009, but Maynard would not let go, even though Meza had a boyfriend.
On Wednesday, Maynard had been sending text messages to his ex-wife “throughout the day,” Kibodeaux said. Police don't yet know if she responded to him, but she complained about the text messages to a witness.
At 8:20 p.m., neighbors reported hearing gunshots at Meza's home in the 100 block of Post Oak, a quiet, tree-lined street of upper-middle-class houses. The teenager was shot inside the house, while Meza was shot in the front yard, Kibodeaux said.
“She was later shot more times in a different location, but close by, so I would think she was trying to take cover or concealment and was shot again,” Kibodeaux said. Meza had multiple wounds in the head and upper torso, he said.
First homicide in years
Maynard left a shotgun in the front yard, then got in his 1994 Lincoln sedan and drove away, Kibodeaux said. A neighbor followed Maynard's car while on the phone with 911, giving police information on which direction he was heading.
When Lake Jackson police caught up to Maynard's car heading northward on Texas 288 slightly above the 65 mph speed limit, Maynard shot himself in the head with another gun, a semi-automatic rifle, while he was driving, police said.
Maynard's car then veered on to the highway shoulder, where it struck a sport utility vehicle occupied by a mother and her two children that had pulled over to yield to the emergency vehicles. The gunman's car then veered into the grass and back across the highway's two northbound lanes before stopping on the inside shoulder.
The woman and two children inside the SUV hit by Maynard suffered no obvious injuries, but were taken to an Angleton hospital as a precaution, Kibodeaux said.
Police said they have not found anything in writing to indicate that Maynard had planned on taking violent action against anyone, but said they still must review his and his former wife's cell phone records.
“We have seen a few e-mails (from Maynard), but mainly they were character attacks and no indication there would be action taken,” Kibodeaux said.
Meza and Maynard's daughters are now staying with a close family friend, police said.
Child Protective Services caseworkers are meeting with the children's maternal and paternal grandparents about making more permanent living arrangements, Kibodeaux said.
Meza's death marked the first homicide in Lake Jackson in about a decade, the police lieutenant said.

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