Interview With Killer David Penton
Sunday, March 04, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since being confined in 1988, David
Elliot Penton has denied scores of interviews sought by local and
national media outlets, but he granted the interview with the Tyler
Courier-Times--Telegraph. Kenneth Dean traveled to Ohio to meet the man,
who authorities say has claimed to fellow cellmates of abducting and
killing at least 50 children.
By Kenneth Dean - TylerPaper.com
Toledo, Ohio — The serial killer rose from the chair,
stared intently with his icy blue eyes, stuck out his hand and said,
“Nice to meet you, I am David Penton.”
The 5-11, 49-year-old balding man, wearing a gray
prison uniform with inmate number A245242, greeted his visitor Wednesday
morning deep within the walls of the Toledo Correctional Institution.
There were no bars, no glass barrier. He was not
chained nor handcuffed. No guards were present for the interview in the
medium-sized room bearing the Ohio State Seal on one wall.
Since being confined in 1988, David Elliot Penton has
denied scores of interviews sought by local and national media outlets,
but he granted an interview with the Tyler Courier-Times—Telegraph. I
traveled to Ohio to meet the man, who authorities say has claimed to
fellow cellmates of abducting and killing at least 50 children.
“This is the first interview I have ever given, so
yes this is an exclusive,” he said while signing documents agreeing to
be interviewed, recorded and photographed. “I got to thinking about your
request and thought maybe it’s time I told my side of the story.”
Penton has been convicted of five child murders,
including his 2-month-old son, three Dallas-area girls abducted in the
1980s and an Ohio 9-year-old. Serving life in prison for the crimes, he
has become the focus of authorities in multiple states in the
disappearances of other young children. This focus includes the Big
Sandy disappearance of Ara Denise Johnson, apparently abducted from her
bed on April 2, 1986.
Upshur County Sheriff officials now have information
pointing to Penton as a person of interest in her disappearance and are
building a case.
For an hour and a half we sat in the conference room
as the pale-skinned Penton talked about the crimes he has been convicted
of, new investigations, his life, problems with drugs and the
solicitation of young prostitutes in Korea while in the U.S. Army.
He seemed intelligent, elusive and somewhat proud of
his “notoriety.” He also contradicted himself numerous times.
Penton’s moods changed so quickly, the changes were
sometimes unnerving to watch.
As he answered some questions that clearly bothered
him, he would become red-faced with anger as he moved his hands rapidly,
then his eyes would tear up and finally he would sneer or laugh in my
direction. The changes often occurred within a one-minute period.
Penton began by saying he was in prison for
aggravated murder and kidnapping in the Ohio case and admitting he had
signed plea agreements in the murders of Dallas area girls, Christie
Proctor, Christi Meeks and Roxann Reyes. He also admitted to pleading
guilty to the violent shaking death of his two-month-old son Michael
James Penton in November1984.
However, the inmate said he did not kill the Dallas
girls, but he would not discuss the case in Ohio saying, “Due to the
pending investigations against me I don’t want to talk about that case.”
“But I did not kill Roxann Reyes, Christie Proctor or Christie Meeks. I
only signed the plea agreements because I would be sitting on death row
right now in Texas, and here I might have a chance that someone will
listen to me.”
He said another reason for pleading guilty was that
he did not want to drag his family through another murder trial. He
blamed the crimes on a Jordanian national he says fled the country
before authorities could interview him.
But, he said, “If I had been on the jury if the Texas
cases went to trial I would have convicted myself. It was in Collin
County, which is a conservative county, and those people would have sent
me to death row.”
I asked him if he would have found himself guilty in
the Ohio case and he again said yes.
Throughout the interview Penton, a former mechanic
who moved between states in the 1980s, denied traveling across the
country abducting, raping and killing children. He claims all of the
police agencies and the FBI are conspiring against him to clear old
abduction cases across the country.
“I’m not a monster, though I have been called a
monster. But I didn’t go around the country killing little kids. You can
either accept that or not,” he said loudly while using his hands to
emphasize his claims. “They (the authorities) are working with each
other just to clear up cases and I’m in prison and I can’t get out there
to clear up my name. Who is going to believe a man convicted of a child
Penton said when he was in Korea he solicited
prostitutes, and some may have been underage. He said he used illegal
narcotics, such as LSD and cocaine. He also said he obtained
prescription medications and took them while serving in the military.
“I’m not going to lie. I was with a lot of
prostitutes and some of them could have been underage,” he said. “But I
didn’t fancy little kids like the cops say. It wasn’t so much that I
fancied the age as it was about the cleanliness. I mean there were a lot
of diseases out there.”
He would not talk about the death of his son, other
than to say it was the first time he had been in trouble with police,
but he did say he appealed his guilt.
But Penton fled from Texas while on bond and was on
the lam until apprehended in Ohio in 1988. He said he did not flee and
his bondsman knew where he was every day.
“I was not even a fugitive from justice when they
caught me,” he said.
He denied allegations that he attempted to kidnap
other girls in Dallas who escaped and later identified him through
Penton said he knew that he might be deemed the most
prolific child killer in history, but said he was not concerned with the
stigma placed upon him, because he could not change what people believed.
“People are going to believe what they want to
believe about me, and there’s nothing I can do. I mean, like I said, I
am sitting in prison and I can’t clear my name,” he said.
When asked if he would fight new charges or simply
sign another plea, his first reply was, “Do you know the date (of the
crime)?” Then he added “I’m going to trial in the Indiana case
regardless, and if they put me on death row then so be it, because I’m
better off on death row because someone will listen to me. It’s so
frustrating that I want to bang my head, because no one listens to me.”
In regard to possible DNA evidence, Penton said there
is no evidence against him in any case and he blamed cellmates —
including former cellmate Jeffrey Sunnykalb — as using him in attempts
to shorten their time in prison.
Penton said Sunnykalb, a convicted Ohio child
molester, knew who Penton was when the two became cellmates in 1997.
“He knew who I was because in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001 and so on I had more publicity than most people in America. I was
known by everyone in the system and he (Sunnykalb) used me to try and
get a deal,” he said.
Penton said the fact Sunnykalb still talks to
authorities in relation to cases despite not getting any type of deal
just shows the man has something against him.
Penton said the inmates use the Freedom of
Information Act to obtain information regarding abduction cases then
they claim they have new information.
However, police officials such as Garland Police
Detective Gary Sweet, who has interviewed Penton, said the information
is specific and not information shared through public information.
Penton said, “This is my philosophy; there is no
justice in America, no more for me at least. I am a poor defendant who
cannot afford a top-notch defense team.
“Society isn’t worried about me, they have labeled me
a predator and I have accepted that,” he said. He said a deathbed
confession would detail, “No more than you already know.”
Closing the interview, Penton expressed sorrow for
his family and the trials they have endured with him and said he knew he
would never be a free man.
“If I don’t die by lethal injection I’m going to die
of old age. I know that and my health is failing anyway. … I’m just
tired of fighting and I’m tired of being put through the ringer and you
know you get to the point where you will yourself to die because you get
sick of it. … If I fell over dead tomorrow it would be doing everybody a
favor. Then, everyone could conjecture, ‘Well we didn’t get him to trial
but we still think he did it.’”
Following are excerpts from an
interview Wednesday of convicted child serial killer David Elliot Penton
with Tyler Courier-Times--Telegraph reporter Kenneth Dean. Penton
said he has never spoken about his crimes to any media outlet. The
interview in the Toledo Correctional Institution lasted an hour and a
KD: Did you ever rape, try to kidnap, or fantasize
about kidnapping little girls?
DP: I’ve already told you no. Here’s the thing: If I
did it, then I’d tell you I did it.
KD: Did you rape and murder Nydra Ross? (Penton was
convicted of the murder in Ohio.)
DP: I’m not going to comment on that.
KD: Why not? You just said you would tell me.
DP: Look, I have 400 agencies investigating me right
now, so they’re going to come up and say, “Well, he confessed to this
and confessed to that, and let’s just go ahead and bank him.”
KD: So you are saying all these agencies involved and
all these people including the Federal Bureau of Investigation have got
a conspiracy to keep David Penton behind bars and pin all these cases on
DP: Yes. Let me tell you what the FBI told me. They
said they were going to remain neutral in the Texas cases. How can they
remain neutral? If I did it, then I did it; if I didn’t, then I didn’t.
KD: Have you ever bragged about killing kids? (Former
cellmates have told authorities Penton has bragged about killing at
least 50 children.)
DP: Why would I go around here bragging about killing
kids? I don’t have to brag about killing so other inmates will leave me
alone. I’d just pick up a mop handle and bop them in the head.
KD: Did you kill Christie Proctor, Christi Meeks or
Roxann Reyes? (In 2005, Penton pleaded guilty to capital murder in these
DP: No, I did not.
KD: Did you kill any other kids?
DP: No, I have told you, I didn’t go around killing
KD: So you are telling me that you have never killed
any children, including Nydra Ross?
DP: I didn’t say that. What I’m saying is if I did it,
then I did it, and I said I’m not talking about the Ross case.
KD: But by your admission, through pleading guilty to
the Reyes, Meeks and Proctor cases and your two previous convictions,
you have killed five kids, right?
KD: Have you ever been to East Texas?
DP: Yes, I have been through there several times. I
lived in Texas for five years, but I didn’t know anyone there.
KD: Where were you on April 2, 1986?
DP: Was that a weekday or a weekend? Because if it
was a weekday, I was working in Ohio, and a lot of times I worked on
weekends. But yes, I was in Texas in the 1980s. I was stationed there.
KD: If you are getting that needle in your arm, are
you finally going to say…
DP: I’m going to tell them what I’ve done in life
before they put that needle in my arm. I’m going to call somebody and
tell them everything so I will have a clear conscience.
KD: Will it be a lot more than what you are saying
you have done?
DP: No. No more than what you know already. Accept it
or reject it — that is up to you.
KD: When someone sits down and writes the next book
about serial killers, will your name be at the top of the page?
DP: Oh, absolutely.
KD: Does that give you cause for concern?
KD: Why not?
DP: Because there is nothing I can do about it. I’m
just a monster, a hideous idiot, a demon from hell that goes around the
country killing little kids, and I’ve been labeled that and no one
listens to me.
Convicted Killer Mentions Another Possible Victim
March 05, 2007
Authorities are investigating whether an Ohio prison
inmate who pleaded guilty to killing three young Dallas-area girls in
the 1980s could also be responsible for the disappearance of an East
David Elliott Penton, who is serving a life sentence
for killing a 9-year-old Columbus girl in 1988, allegedly mentioned 5-year-old
Ara "Niecie" Johnson to fellow inmates, said Detective Freddie
Fitzgerald of the Upshur County sheriff's office.
Ara was abducted from her bedroom in Big Sandy, about
95 miles east of Dallas, in April 1986.
"We have to talk to him - there is no getting around
it," Fitzgerald said. "We have to err on the side of caution, but this
information brings hope to a case where hope was all but abandoned."
In a prison interview, Penton told the Tyler Morning
Telegraph authorities are using him as a scapegoat to settle old cases
that he had nothing to do with.
"I'm not a monster, though I have been called a
monster. But I didn't go around the country killing little kids," Penton
told the newspaper.
Penton pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 1985 for the
death of his 2-month-old son in Bell County in central Texas. Police
said he shook the child. He fled during an appeal of that case.
In 2001, he was convicted in Ohio of the sexual
assault and murder of a friend's 9-year-old girl. Penton was brought
back to Texas two years later to face charges in the 1985 and 1987
deaths of three Dallas-area girls - ages 3, 5 and 10 - and pleaded
guilty in all three deaths.
Penton also is a suspect in the cases of two other
Texas girls who vanished in the mid-1980s, said Garland police Detective
Gary Sweet, who investigated Penton for seven years.
Child killer David Elliot Penton
By KENNETH DEAN - TylerPaper.com
April 19, 2007
BIG SANDY — A child serial killer convicted in three Dallas- area
abductions and murders in the 1980s is now a “person of interest” in the
1986 abduction of a Big Sandy girl.
For more than two decades there were no leads in the disappearance of 5-year-old
Ara “Niecie” Johnson, apparently snatched from her bed in the middle of
the night. Now, Upshur County Sheriff detectives say fresh information
points to 49-year-old David Elliot Penton.
Penton, a mechanic who drifted from Ohio to Texas, is being held in Ohio
for the abduction and murder of a 9-year-old Ohio girl. In addition, he
has confessed to the Dallas-area cases.
Officials in Texas and several other states are investigating the
possibility Penton may be in-volved with other unsolved child
disappearances after cellmates claimed he bragged about killing more
than 50 children.
Niecie’s disappearance on April 2, 1986, has stumped authorities and
remained unsolved with no clues or suspects.
After learning that Penton allegedly spoke of Ara Johnson to cellmates,
Upshur County sheriff detective Freddie Fitzgerald told the Tyler
Courier-Times—Telegraph they now consider the Ohio inmate a “strong
person of interest” in her abduction.
“From the information we are getting we definitely need to talk to him (Penton),”
he said. “We have to talk to him — there is no getting around it.”
The seasoned lawman added, “We have to err on the side of caution, but
this information brings hope to a case where hope was all but abandoned.”
Niecie was last seen by her father about 2:30 a.m. the day she
disappeared. A search by law enforcement using tracking dogs and on
horseback turned up no clues to the girl’s whereabouts, according to
sheriff officials at the time.
Authorities noted there was no forced entry into the mobile home in the
300 block of Boulder Street and the rear door was left open. The
bedspread she was sleeping under was also missing from the home, but
there were no signs of a struggle and her parents said they didn’t hear
James and Ophelia Johnson made passionate pleas through the media for
the safe return of their only daughter, but the case soon grew cold.
Since the disappearance, James has died and attempts to reach Mrs.
Johnson over a two-week period have been unsuccessful.
Niecie was added to the Texas Clearinghouse of Missing Persons and the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but no information
surfaced in the investigation until late last month when detectives
learned about Penton.
“He tossed out the name of a little girl abducted here in Big Sandy,
Texas, and he is in an Ohio prison serving life sentences for this same
type of crime,” Lt. David Dickerson, also with the Upshur County
Sheriff’s Department, said. “That really interests me because who has
ever heard of Big Sandy? And he was in Texas about the same time as her
Within 18 months of Niecie’s disappearance, three abductions occurred in
the Dallas area with authorities finding the bodies of Christi Lynn
Meeks, 5, Christie Diane Proctor, 9, and 4-year-old Roxann Reyes.
SERIAL CHILD KILLER?
Garland Police detective Gary Sweet has spent seven years working cases
against Penton, a man he describes as intelligent, elusive and cunning.
Sweet, who worked the kidnapping and murder cases of the three Dallas-area
girls, has interviewed Penton and some of cellmates and other young
girls who Penton allegedly attempted to kidnap.
The abductions in Dallas began with Meeks, who was kidnapped from her
mother’s front yard as she played on Jan. 19, 1985. Her decomposing body
was found several months later about 40 miles away in Lake Texoma after
it surfaced. She had been strangled and drowned, a report showed.
As detectives worked the Meeks case, Proctor was kidnapped while walking
home in north Dallas in February 1986. Her body was discovered in a
field in the Plano area, two years later. According to a medical
examiner and forensic evidence, she had been raped and strangled. Reyes
was kidnapped while picking wildflowers for her mother near her Garland
apartment Nov. 3, 1987. She was found in Murphy one year later. Evidence
also suggested she had been raped and strangled.
Sweet said Texas authorities are looking at Penton as a suspect in the
disappearances of Angelica Gandara, 11, of Temple, missing since July
14, 1985, Amber Nicole Crum, 2, of Dallas, missing since Dec. 26, 1983
“He won’t come right out and admit the crimes, but the inmates all had
specific information about each missing girl,” he said.
The Collin County District Attorney’s office was prepared to move
forward with the capital murder trial against Penton and seek the death
penalty four years ago.
In their arsenal prosecutors had information that Penton had attempted
several other kidnappings in Dallas in the 1980s and those victims had
identified him after he was indicted on the capital murder charges in
Records in Collin County contained allegations, which have never been
made public, that he possessed child pornography and verbally expressed
fantasies of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and murdering young school
girls in Franklin County Ohio.
The records also quoted one of Penton’s ex-wives who told prosecutors
that her ex-husband had sexually assaulted her daughter and had tortured
and killed small animals while stationed at Fort Hood in the 1980s.
Letters to his family while he was jailed in Texas pending the trial
were also part of the file in Collin County. Using immaculate penmanship,
Penton expressed his innocence in letters to his family.
A statement by Collin County District Attorney John Roach said his
office was seeking the death penalty.
“The acceptance and prosecution of these cases will serve as a notice to
anyone who would abduct and murder our children that we will not forget,”
he said in 2003. “We will not forget the killer, we will not forget the
crime and we will not forget the victims.”
Before the cases could go to trial, Penton avoided the death penalty,
pleaded guilty to the capital murder charges levied against him. He was
convicted and received three concurrent life sentences in January 2005.
WHO IS PENTON?
Investigators and court records paint a picture of a troubled man who
crisscrossed the country venting rage against children.
David Elliot Penton was born Feb. 9, 1958, and was raised in Columbus,
Ohio, by his mother. His father abandoned both the mother and child.
After graduating high school he joined the U.S. Army in 1977 where he
specialized as a track vehicle mechanic until 1984.
He quickly made a name for himself as an expert marksman and a soldier,
who superiors called “highly motivated,” with an excellent record.
In 1980 he was charged with storing alcohol in his foot locker and a few
months later he was charged with lying about his marital status to
obtain military benefits for which he was not entitled.
He was demoted from sergeant to specialist.
In 1984 while stationed at Ford Hood, Penton would face his first
charges of killing a child.
A Bell County medical examiner told authorities Penton violently shook
his 2-month-old son to death in a “fit of rage,” because the child would
not stop crying. Penton pleaded guilty to a manslaughter charge and was
discharged from the Army. While out on bond appealing his case, Penton
fled from Texas authorities and began crossing the nation.
He remained on the lam until he was arrested for the murder of a
friend’s niece in Ohio three years later.
The abduction, rape and murder of 9-year-old Nydra Ross, whose body was
found in a creek bed, led authorities to Penton, who admitted to smoking
crack and doing other illegal narcotics with the girl’s family members.
He was placed into custody and convicted by a jury in 2001 where he
received a life sentence in prison.
After his arrest in Ohio, Texas authorities learned of Penton and began
their own investigation into the man who made numerous trips between the
two states. They were especially interested in the striking similarities
between the Ohio and Texas cases, but they could not tie Penton to the
Dallas area crimes.
Eight years later, cellmates of the convicted child killer would go to
authorities with new information about several cases.
Armed with the new evidence and the cellmates’ information, Penton was
extradited to Collin County, Texas for the murders and was to face the
However before the case went to a jury, Penton pleaded guilty.
Sweet said Penton is evasive, but intelligent and seems to take pleasure
in bragging about his “killing spree,” which may span multiple states.
“He (Penton) has made claims to killing more than 50 children across the
states,” he said. “I personally believe the actual number is between 25
Mark Harper, a private investigator close to the case, said officials in
Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and several other
states are also looking at Penton as a possible person of interest.
Penton is also a suspect in the abduction of 6-year-old Shannon Marie
Sherrill, who was last seen in Thorntown, Ind., playing hide and seek
with friends on Oct. 5, 1986.
Harper was hired by the Sherrill family to investigate the abduction of
their child after the case by law enforcement stalled.
Penton is scheduled to be extradited to Indiana later this month to face
charges in the case.
“I believe this guy may be responsible for an enormous number of missing
girls and although I was hired by the Sherrill family to find their
daughter’s killer, I want every case this monster might have been
involved in solved before he dies,” he said. “I want these families to
have some closure as to what happened to their children.”
Harper has worked with detectives across the country including Gary
Sweet and the two men have shared a wealth of information regarding
Sweet said after interviewing Penton and his cellmates he knew about the
Johnson case and he is now working with Dickerson and Fitzgerald and the
three lawmen are sharing information.
“It’s my belief that Penton is their guy,” Sweet said.
“I feel pretty certain he is responsible for Ara’s abduction.
Fitzgerald told the newspaper Thursday he and Dickerson are planning to
look at Sweet’s files to better prepare themselves for a meeting with
the man labeled a “monster” by Collin County officials.
“Before we go up there to talk to him, we want to make sure we have all
the information available to know how to question this individual,” he
Fitzgerald said a capital murder charge is not out of the question.
“It is definitely a possibility because she was abducted out of her
house, against her will and if she was killed then it would be a capital
murder case,” he said.
Sweet summed up his involvement with the Penton cases.
“What case can you work that is more important that a child abduction
and murder?” he said.
“I am a parent and this is a parent’s worst nightmare.”
David Elliot Penton
Dallas Morning News
Jan. 7, 2005
Inmate avoids death for area girls'
killings----Plea deal closes book on 3 children's abduction-slayings
Days before the start of his capital murder trial, an
Ohio prison inmate pleaded guilty Thursday to the abductions and
slayings of 3 Dallas-area girls more than 17 years ago.
David Elliott Penton was accused in the strangulation
deaths of Roxann Hope Reyes, 3, Christie Diane Proctor, 9, and Christi
Lynn Meeks, 5. Jury selection was to begin Monday in the Reyes case.
Mike Meeks, father of one of the victims, was
incensed by David Penton's plea deal. In a plea agreement with Collin
County prosecutors, Mr. Penton, 47, avoided the death penalty by
accepting a sentence that should keep him behind bars for life. He is
now convicted of killing five children, including his own infant son.
"The man is a devil. He has no soul. He has no heart,"
said Tamela Lopez, Roxann's mother, sobbing that she had hoped her
daughter's killer would die for his crime.
The agreement, approved by state District Judge
Nathan White, comes almost 20 years after Christi Meeks disappeared
during a game of hide-and-seek outside her mother's Mesquite apartment
complex. Her body was found almost 3 months later in Lake Texoma, and
the slaying brought national attention to the plight of missing and
Christie Proctor's body was found in a south Plano
field in April 1988, more than 2 years after the fourth-grader was last
seen walking from her North Dallas apartment to a friend's house. Roxann
Reyes was snatched from an alley while playing outside her Garland
apartment in November 1987. Her body was found 6 months later in Murphy,
east of Plano.
The girls' families said Thursday that they are
consoled that their daughters' killer is in custody, but they wanted Mr.
Penton put to death for his crimes.
"For 18 months, I've been told this man was going to
die. I was told from day one that this was a death penalty case," said
Mike Meeks, Christi's father. "They [prosecutors] are taking the easy
way out, in my opinion."
Prosecutors said they agreed to the lesser punishment
because they feared that evidence showing that Mr. Penton may have been
out of Texas when Roxann was killed could hurt their case.
Before announcing the agreement Thursday, Greg Davis,
Collin County first assistant district attorney, met with the victims'
families and the police officers from Plano, Mesquite and Garland who
had worked on the three cases over the years.
"These people have just flat lied to me," Mr. Meeks
said. "They walked in there this morning and said they cannot try this
case because they don't think they can win."
Edwin King, lead defense attorney, said the plea
agreement was a "fair resolution" and called the state's evidence
against Mr. Penton "very thin." Mr. King said recent evidence found by
the defense shows that Mr. Penton received pay from another state during
the time of one of the murders.
He said that the guilty pleas were Mr. Penton's
decision and that going to trial would have been a gamble.
Gregg Gibbs, another defense attorney, said the new
information was "not rock solid, not bulletproof" but would have
improved Mr. Penton's chances at trial.
Ms. Lopez, who now lives in Ohio, said that the last
time she saw Roxann, her daughter gave her a handful of flowers she'd
picked outside and kissed her cheek. She still celebrates Roxann's
birthday with a cake each January and collects Beanie Babies for her.
She would have been 21 this month.
Roxann had another handful of flowers when a playmate
saw her get into a car with a man after he promised her ice cream and
candy. Roxann apparently thought Mr. Penton was her father's friend
because she had seen him around their apartment complex, Ms. Lopez said.
"I won't ever forgive him," she said, "but I know she
has. I'm just glad he won't be able to hurt another."
Laura Proctor, Christie's mother, agreed. "He can
harm no other child. Essentially, he'll die in jail," she said.
The girl's father, Howard Sherrill, said "there is
some sense of closure. I personally would have preferred the death
penalty." He added that he was consoled by the idea that Mr. Penton will
likely never be free.
When asked whether Mr. Penton was admitting to the
crimes or only trying to save his life, his attorney, Mr. King, replied,
"That's between God, Mr. Penton and three little girls."
Mr. Meeks said he had believed that police had his
daughter's killer but now isn't so sure.
"From what I got today, a guy can plead to anything,"
he said. "He wants to save himself from being killed. I'm not even sure
at this point that he did it."
Mr. Davis, the assistant district attorney, said he
believed that Mr. Penton's confession was honest and "that he killed all
three of these murdered girls."
The prosecutor said he, too, wanted Mr. Penton to be
sentenced to die.
"I think David Penton was very deserving of the death
penalty," he said. "His crimes were heinous."
Bill Hobson, assistant Mesquite police chief,
investigated Christi's disappearance. He said no case has moved him more
in 33 years with the department.
"It's kind of a quiet satisfaction in knowing that
we've pursued this thing for so many years and here's a successful
conclusion," he said.
"There's still a lot of emotion in this case. But
part of me feels that, 'OK, Christi, you can rest easy now.'"
Mr. Penton is serving a life sentence in Ohio for the
abduction and killing of 9-year-old Nydra Ross, who disappeared from her
aunt's Columbus home in 1988.
Under the agreement approved Thursday, he will
complete his sentence in Ohio, where he is eligible for parole in 2027.
After completing his punishment there, Mr. Penton will serve three
consecutive life sentences in Texas.
"In my opinion, he'll never see the ground in Ohio,
much less Texas," said Mr. Gibbs, his attorney.
For years, authorities suspected Mr. Penton in the
three Dallas-area slayings, in part because the Texas victims died in a
fashion similar to the Ohio girl. At least 2 of the Texas victims were
sexually assaulted. But investigators lacked enough evidence to charge
the former Fort Hood soldier, who was arrested by Ohio authorities in
Mr. Penton was honorably discharged from the Army in
late 1985 in Killeen, Texas. He pleaded guilty that year to manslaughter
in the Bell County death of his 1-month-old son. He fled during an
appeal of his sentence, and his whereabouts were unknown until his 1988
arrest in Ohio.
In 2003, Plano police forwarded charges against Mr.
Penton to Collin County prosecutors, declining to publicly reveal what
new evidence connected the inmate with the local killings.
He was extradited to Texas in 2003 after a Collin
County grand jury indicted him on 3 counts of capital murder.
Prosecutors said Thursday that a collection of
evidence, including the words of jailhouse snitches in Ohio, led them to
seek the indictment against Mr. Penton.
Prosecutors said Mr. Penton told fellow inmates in
Ohio about the Texas cases. Those inmates came forward with information
about the deaths and were not given any deals in return, Mr. Davis said.
A TIMELINE OF DAVID PENTON'S CRIMES
Jan. 19, 1985: Five-year-old Christi Lynn Meeks is
abducted while playing outside her mother's apartment in Mesquite.
April 3, 1985: Christi's body is found floating in
Feb. 15, 1986: Christie Diane Proctor, 9, of North
Dallas is reported missing by her family. She was last seen walking to a
Nov. 3, 1987: 3-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.
April 1988: Christie Proctor's body is found in a
south Plano field more than 2 years after her disappearance. About the
same time, David Elliott Penton is arrested in the slaying of Nydra Ross,
9, of Dayton, Ohio.
May 19, 1988: The body of Roxann Reyes is found in
Murphy, just east of Plano.
Aug. 15, 1988: Area detectives acknowledge that Mr.
Penton is being questioned in the deaths of the 3 Dallas-area girls, but
they can't find evidence that he was in Texas at the time of the
May 10, 1990: Mr. Penton is indicted on charges of
kidnapping and killing Nydra Ross.
1992: Mr. Penton is convicted and sentenced to life
in prison for killing Nydra. He will be eligible for parole in 2027.
May 21, 2003: Plano police charge Mr. Penton in the
abduction-slayings of Christi Meeks, Christie Proctor and Roxann Reyes.
Collin County authorities say that if Mr. Penton is indicted on the
charges, they will seek the death penalty.
June 17, 2003: A Collin County grand jury indicts Mr.
Penton in the abduction-slayings of the 3 girls.
Aug. 2003: Mr. Penton is extradited to Texas.
January 2004: A jury trial is scheduled in the Reyes
Jan. 6, 2005: Mr. Penton pleads guilty to the murders
of the 3 Dallas-area girls. He will remain in prison for life, first
finishing his sentence in Ohio before facing his sentence in Texas.
Convicted murderer David Elliot Penton
is shown in prison in Toledo, Ohio,
in this undated photo.
Lynn Meeks, 5, victim.