Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

July 1, 2012


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:12 am






While working for the Harris County Sheriff Department in Houston years ago I worked at numerous jobs for the then Sheriff, Buster Kern.  I worked on accident investigation cars, patrol cars, and the most interesting was the warrant car.  Back in the early 1970s the warrant car was responsible for serving warrants to individuals who had an arrest order from a judge.  That’s all that some deputies did, serve warrants.

I found myself working with a partner on a warrant car on a summer Saturday in 1971.  We had been handed a mental warrant on a woman who lived in the Baytown area.  Her family had decided that she needed medical attention on the tenth floor of Jeff Davis hospital, the mental ward.  We began our drive from downtown Houston to Baytown in our unmarked police car to find the lady and bring her in.

We located her mobile home and drove into the driveway.  My partner studied the home a second then said, “We had better be careful with the lady.  The 10/96 cases can get violent pretty quick.  So, let’s grab her the first opportunity we get.”  I agreed with his assessment.

She appeared at the door soon after our rapping but would not open the screen door.  My partner said to the lady, “Maam, your family has sent us to help you get to the hospital.  We need you to come with us so we can  help you.”  We got a blank stare from her for a second then she said, “I don’t need any help and I am not going to the hospital.”  She started to close the door.  My partner nodded at me, a signal to spring into action.  We yanked open the screen door and grabbed her arm before she could shut the door.

We began pulling her off the porch and on to the lawn.  She started screaming and kicking.  I received a good blow to my lower leg before we could get her into handcuffs.  Finally, we put her in the back of the car and she calmed down.  In those days there were no “cages” separating the front seats from the back, so my job was to keep close watch on her while driving to the hospital.  We had just gotten on I45, the Gulf Freeway, when a call came over our radio that caught our attention.

The dispatcher reported that a subject with a gun had been spotted in a tavern on the Gulf Freeway within a few blocks of our location.  It seems that the subject had reportedly killed someone the night before in Galveston and was the object of a search by the police.

My partner looked at me and said, “What do you think?  The tavern is just up the road and we would be the first car there.”  “But, we have a mental patient on board”, I responded.  “Well, I don’t think we have a choice”, came his reply.  So we exited the freeway and drove up to an old tavern on the right.  We were not recognized since we were in an unmarked vehicle, and in business suits.  We locked our patient in the car and headed for the tavern entrance.

As we entered the front door I headed to my left and my partner took the right.  There was a long bar with stools, mostly empty, in front of us.  Almost immediately I spotted a man sitting on one of the stools.  He never looked up.  I saw a pistol inside his rear pant pocket hardly concealed.  I motioned to my partner who walked over to me.  The man never looked up until we both grabbed him by each arm and pulled him off the stool.

We immediately cuffed him and I grabbed his weapon.  I noted that the man still had blood stains on his clothing.  The subject did not put up a fight and meekly walked to the police car.

It is not a good thing to have more than one prisoner in a vehicle at the same time.  But, we were going to have to put the bad guy in the back with the mental patient.  I wondered how this would work out.

The woman leaned away as far as the car door would allow.  “Who is this man?” she asked.  I couldn’t believe my partner’s answer, “Oh, this is a guy who killed someone in Galveston last night.”  She screamed, “I’m not going to ride with HIM..!”   The killer observed the mental patient,  “ Who the heck is that?” he asked.  “Oh, don’t mind her.  She is a mental patient we are taking to Jeff Davis.  She won’t hurt you”, replied my tactless partner.  “Well, I ain’t riding next to a crazy woman”, our prisoner yelled.  Things were about to get out of hand.

Suddenly a couple of patrol cars roared up to the scene.  They were a little late but could still be of use in this situation.  “Hey, you guys, we need a little help here”, I called out to them.  “Yeah, make yourself useful”, my partner added.  “You take the killer to the jail and we will continue our mission of getting this sweet lady to the hospital.”

So, with the situation calmed down, we resumed our trip to the hospital with our patient.  The last thing that she said to us was, “ I can’t believe you were going to make me sit next to a murderer.”  We were all three quiet the rest of the way.  But I was thinking to myself, “at least we got a murderer with a gun off the street, and much-needed mental health assistance to the woman.   Not a bad day after all.”


About the Author

Neal Murphy resides in his birthplace, San Augustine, Texas, with his wife Clara. He has two children, Kay Fatheree, a pastor’s wife now living in Abilene, Texas, and Douglas Murphy, a police officer in North Carolina, and has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Neal earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and a master’s degree in insurance from the Insurance Institute of America. He also attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied religion courses. He is a deacon at a Baptist Church, has taught Sunday school classes, and directed church choirs for many years. He began his writing in 2005, and many of his short stories about his life growing up in a small Texas town have been published in Reminisce Magazine, Good Old Days Magazine, Looking Back Magazine, and the Town Square Magazine. He had a story included in Memories of Mother, a book published by Xulon Press. Another story was published in the book Dear Old Golden School Days published by the DRG Publishing Group. He published a book, From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xulon Press in 2006. His second book entitled Those Were the Days was published by Xlibris Inc. in 2007. In 2008 he published another book, The Psalms—From the Heart of a Country Preacher, by Xlibris Inc. He is a founding member of the Deep East Texas Literary Guild of San Augustine, Texas, founded in 2009. He has weekly stories in the San Augustine Tribune and the Toledo Chronicle, an online newspaper. He has a monthly story in the Shelby County Today online newspaper.

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