By MARY RAINWATER
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office investigators have resolved the case of a female murder victim whose remains were found on a local county road in October 2012.
Sheriff Greg Taylor reported that 53-year-old Bobby Franks of Flint was identified as the suspect in the death of the woman, later identified as 35-year-old Deborah LeAnn Diaz of Tyler.
“On Oct. 14, 2012, we began the investigation of the death of the woman (Diaz) and were assisted by Texas Rangers,” Taylor said. “Her remains were found in a wooded area on ACR 4440, near the intersection of Texas 155 and FM 321.
“We worked the scene and gathered quite a bit of evidence,” he continued. “In our investigation, we eliminated two suspects — both ex-husbands of the victim.”
Investigators have speculated that the victim had been at the scene for at least a week, and the cause of death was determined to be two gunshot wounds. Some clothing as well as gun evidence was recovered at the scene.
On Nov. 8, 2012, the ACSO received a call from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, who was investigating a suicide that took place in Flint — that of Bobby Franks, and reported that the man’s death might be related to the case.
“We went up there and were able to talk to Franks’ wife, who told us that in the past few weeks Franks has been acting strangely,” Taylor said. “He has been arrested in Johnston County and committed to a mental institution for a few days.
“Franks had talked to her, and she gave us details that only the person who did it would know,” he added.
After conducting interviews and putting the evidence together, the case was presented to the Anderson County Grand Jury on May 16, who ruled that, based on the evidence, Franks was the primary suspect in the case.
“There was evidence that put them together,” the sheriff said. “The guilt and the stress over what he had done got to him and he committed suicide.”
Taylor also reported that Franks told his wife about his picking up a hitchhiker and bringing him to his home.
“He told her that he thought the hitchhiker might have done it and was worried about the case being pinned on him,” Taylor said. “We don’t believe there was anyone else involved. We believe he acted alone.
“There is just no way she could have known those details about evidence from the scene that we did not release,” he continued. “We are confident that Franks was the suspect, and unfortunately we are not able to prosecute him.
“We will never really know why he did what he did.”
The gun used to kill Diaz was never recovered, the sheriff said, but was believed to have been tossed in Lake Palestine by Franks.
“Franks’ wife reported that he was reading a newspaper about another murder investigation and how they were searching Lake Palestine for a gun,” Taylor said. “She told us that it sent him over the edge.
“We wish the family could have been given proper justice, but I guess he gave justice to himself,” he said. “We are just glad to have this resolved.”
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org