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Man charged in area girls' deaths - Collin County prosecutor will seek death penalty
The Dallas Morning News ^ | May 22, 2003 | By TIM WYATT and ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on 05/22/2003 2:38:39 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP

Man charged in area girls' deaths

Ohio child killer suspected in '80s slayings of Christi Meeks, Christie Proctor and Roxann Reyes


By TIM WYATT and ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News

Plano police on Wednesday charged a convicted child killer in Ohio with capital murder in connection with the abduction and slayings of three Dallas-area girls more than 15 years ago.

The trail in the strangulation deaths of Christi Lynn Meeks, 5, of Mesquite; Christie Diane Proctor, 9, of Dallas; and Roxann Hope Reyes, 4, of Garland had gone cold.

But police revived the cases by bringing three charges against David Elliot Penton, 45, to Collin County prosecutors.

David Elliot Penton
Mr. Penton, serving a life sentence for killing a 9-year-old Ohio girl, had been questioned by area police in 1988. The former soldier at Fort Hood lived in Killeen in 1984, where he pleaded guilty the following year to manslaughter in the death of his 1-month-old son. He appealed his five-year sentence and fled after posting bond.

Three years later, when authorities caught up with Mr. Penton in Ohio, he became a suspect in the Dallas-area slayings because the three Texas girls had died in a fashion similar to the Ohio girl. But at the time, Garland, Plano and Mesquite police said they lacked enough evidence to charge him.

Nov. 23, 1984: David Penton, a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, is charged in the death of his 1-month-old son in Killeen in Bell County.

Jan. 19, 1985: Five-year-old Christi Lynn Meeks is abducted while playing outside her mother's apartment in Mesquite.

April 3, 1985: The body of Christi Lynn Meeks is found floating in Lake Texoma. She is identified two weeks later.

May 1985: Mr. Penton pleads guilty to manslaughter in the death of his son and receives a five-year prison sentence from a judge. He is freed on an appeal bond and flees.

Feb. 15, 1986: Christie Diane Proctor, 9, of North Dallas is reported missing by her family as she was walking from a North Dallas apartment to a friend's house.

Nov. 3, 1987: Four-year-old Roxann Hope Reyes is abducted from behind her mother's Garland home at the Meadow Terrace Apartments while playing with a friend in the late afternoon. Her abductor is described as a man driving a gray, four-door sedan.

March 31, 1988: Nydra Ross, 9, of Dayton, Ohio, is reported missing while visiting relatives in Columbus, Ohio.

April 1988: Christie Proctor's body is found in a south Plano field more than two years after her disappearance. An autopsy reveals she was strangled and sexually assaulted. About the same time, Mr. Penton is arrested in the Ross slaying. Authorities in Bell County try to extradite Mr. Penton from Ohio.

May 19, 1988: The body of Roxann Reyes is found in Murphy, just east of Plano. She has been strangled and sexually assaulted.

Aug. 15, 1988: Area detectives acknowledge that David Penton is being questioned in the deaths of the three Dallas-area girls, and confirm that all three died by strangulation, but they can't find evidence that Mr. Penton was in Texas at the time of the abduction-slayings.

Sept. 15, 1988: Police find the body of Nydra Ross in a creek bed in rural Marion County, Ohio.

May 10, 1990: Mr. Penton is indicted on charges of kidnapping and killing Nydra Ross.

Nov. 1991: North Texas police question a 52-year-old suspect in the Christi Lynn Meeks case, but no charges result and he is never identified.

1992: Mr. Penton is convicted and sentenced to life in prison for killing Nydra Ross. He becomes eligible for parole in 2027.

Dec. 2002: Mesquite police interview Christi Lynn Meeks' brother, Michael Meeks Jr., who was 7 at the time of her abduction. He was playing outside with her on the day she disappeared.

May 21, 2003: Plano police file capital murder charges against 45-year-old David Penton in the abduction-slayings of Christi Lynn Meeks, Christie Diane Proctor and Roxann Hope Reyes. If Mr. Penton is indicted on the charges, Collin County authorities say, they will seek the death penalty.

Collin County District Attorney John Roach and local police would not discuss what evidence they have that links Mr. Penton to their cases, saying they did not want to jeopardize their investigation.

But Mr. Roach said he is confident that grand jurors will return indictments in each of the three slayings.

"And if they do that," he said, "we intend to seek the death penalty."

Family members of the girls said the charges offer hope while recalling their sadness.

"Thank you, Lord," said Linda Meeks, Christi's mother. "It's been a long time coming, a long 18 years. I'm shocked, nervous, scared – all rolled into one."

Unsolved tragedies

Christi Meeks disappeared during a game of hide-and-seek outside her mother's apartment complex in January 1985 and was found dead less than three months later in Lake Texoma.

Christie Proctor's body was found in a south Plano field in April 1988, more than two years after the fourth-grader was last seen walking from her North Dallas apartment to a friend's house. Police found only shattered pieces of a plastic heart her aunt had given her for Valentine's Day.

Roxann Reyes was snatched from an alley while playing outside her Garland apartment in November 1987. Her body was found six months later in Murphy, just east of Plano.

Investigators at the time said the three girls were sexually assaulted and strangled.

The slaying of Christi Meeks brought national attention to the plight of missing and abducted children. Relatives established the Christi Meeks Foundation for Missing Children, which helped get the girl's picture on billboards, milk cartons and fliers.

The Meeks abduction came when Mr. Penton was awaiting trial in the death of his son.

Dallas Detective Martha Sanders, who investigated Christie Proctor's disappearance, said the charges bring back a "lot of sadness."

"When you devote a lot of time and so much energy ... it's hard on the families and it's hard on the people who worked it."

Detective Sanders told The News in 1993 that Christie's death remains "the most significant case I've worked."

"I felt like I really knew her," the detective said then. "She liked cute, dainty things. She was protective of her brother; she helped take care of him."

Ms. Meeks, who lives in Mesquite, said she suffered an emotional breakdown in the months after her daughter's body was found. She said she buried the horror of the loss so deep "that I had to have my sister show me where Christi's grave was later on."

But, she said, she never gave up hope.

"I just thought, 'If he doesn't get his day here on earth, he'll get it on judgment day when he leaves this earth,' " she said.

Now, 18 years later, Ms. Meeks said her daughter's death might have helped other potential victims.

"In a roundabout way, it helped bring in media attention and public awareness," she said. "It showed that it could happen to anybody. It's not because you didn't watch your child."

'Hurt and relieved'

"I need this for myself, and I need this for my children. I think it's going to help a lot," says Mike Meeks, father of Christi Lynn Meeks, who was abducted in January 1985. Mr. Meeks said he spells his daughter's name "Kristy."
Mike Meeks, Christi's father, said, "the whole family is hurt and relieved by it all," particularly Christi's brother Michael Wayne Meeks, who at age 7 was one of eight children in the apartment parking lot when the girl was abducted.

"It is a big relief," said Christi's father, who was divorced from Ms. Meeks at the time of the abduction. "It's something that I've looked forward to for a long time.

"It's affected my son and he's felt guilty about this for so long. It'll be a great comfort for him."

Michael Wayne Meeks declined to talk to investigators after the abduction, but seven months ago he cooperated with authorities who brought in a hypnotist to help him recall the event.

"I think it helped him more than it helped us," Mesquite Detective Mike Bradshaw said last month.

The last 18 years have been torture, Mike Meeks said.

"I haven't been able to do anything right in a long time," he said. "I need this for myself, and I need this for my children. I think it's going to help a lot."

Roxann Reyes' mother, Tamela Reyes Lopez, said the prospect of finding her daughter's killer is a relief.

"I know he's not going to go through the pain like my little girl did – or those other two little girls – but it's comforting to know he'll get what's coming to him," she said.

After her daughter's body was found 15 years ago this month, Ms. Lopez remarried, and she moved back to her native Ohio late last year. She said her family knew about Mr. Penton for more than 13 years but waited for police to put the case together.

"I've been aware of it for years, but I've been told to say no more right now so it won't spoil the case," she said.

"My mother and stepfather saw this guy's picture in a paper" when he was charged with killing the Ohio girl. "It matched a composite drawing released" by Garland police two years earlier, she said.

"I've waited 15 years for this, and I want this guy put down for what he did."

Said Mr. Roach, the district attorney, "What's important about all of this is that people who abduct and murder our children are not going to be forgotten.

"We're going to hunt them down and prosecute them."

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TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Ohio; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: capitalmurder; deathpenalty; garland; meeks; mesquite; murder; plano; proctor; reyes
The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly. I wonder what new evidence has come up?

Christi Meeks: no relation to this poster.

1 posted on 05/22/2003 2:38:39 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
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To: MeeknMing
I'm thinking there's a DNA match.

But, after having gone through the murder of our neighbor's kindergartener, and the trial, conviction and sentencing, I can tell you there's no such thing as "closure." It's a myth. The pain may ease with time, but it's always there.

2 posted on 05/22/2003 4:58:09 AM PDT by Catspaw
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To: Catspaw
Probably DNA, yep.

Such a loss is painful, alright, I'm sure of that.

3 posted on 05/22/2003 5:29:42 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye Dixie Chimps! / Check out my Freeper site !:
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To: MeekOneGOP
I've been following this case on the net and this is my first post here. A relative of Christi Meeks who was 7 years old at the time of her abduction, was one of the children playing in the apartment complex when it happened. After hearing his account, and visiting Christi's grave, I couldn't get it out of my mind. Around this time, Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered. The Dallas Morning News ran a list of 15 cases from 1977-1996. Of those cases, there were 4 arrests and only 3 convictions. The status of most of these cases was "Open-no arrests", which adds so much insult to so much injury. I was glad to hear that David Penton was charged and indicted in 3 of the cases. His trial date was set for June 2004, but in March it was delayed indefinitely because a defense attorney withdrew from the case due to possible conflict of interest. I would like to attend the trial when it finally starts. Someone told me they had seen a news program about these charges against Penton and that DNA was involved in solving the cases.
4 posted on 04/02/2004 12:28:14 PM PST by Parker70
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To: Parker70
Thanks for the info and welcome to ! ;^)

5 posted on 04/02/2004 1:29:44 PM PST by MeekOneGOP (Become a monthly donor on FR. No amount is too small and monthly giving is the way to go !)
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To: MeekOneGOP

Chrisite Proctor was a cousin of mine. I had only met her about 4 weeks prior to her disappearance at a family reunion. She was a sweet little girl. I have not heard anything on this in a while. Has anyone else? Our families have grown apart and have lost touch over the years.

6 posted on 03/31/2005 8:51:23 AM PST by eastexan
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To: eastexan
I haven't heard any more that I recall. Sorry about your cousin.

And welcome to FR.

7 posted on 03/31/2005 9:09:24 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: general_re
Here we go again. :)

8 posted on 03/31/2005 9:09:52 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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To: MeekOneGOP
Something for your profile page:


9 posted on 03/31/2005 9:18:09 AM PST by general_re ("Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith, but in doubt." - Reinhold Niebuhr)
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To: general_re
LOL! :^D

I could caption it: "Would you like [freedom] fries with that?"

10 posted on 03/31/2005 10:36:53 AM PST by MeekOneGOP (There is only one GOOD 'RAT: one that has been voted OUT of POWER !! Straight ticket GOP!)
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