Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 2 +
Date of murder: April 21, 2005
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: Margie Gafford, 86, and Louise Tamplin, 81
Method of murder: Beating
Location: Port Arthur, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on April 9, 2007

Sinegal Pleads Guilty to Capital Murder; Will Get Life Sentence

By Scott Lawrence and Bill Leger -

February 22, 2007

A man who'd been charged with serial capital murder in the deaths of elderly Port Arthur women pleaded guilty Thursday and will receive a life sentence.

Gary Sinegal pleaded guilty to capital murder in the deaths of Margie Gafford and Louise Tamplin. They were killed on April 21, 2005.

Sinegal was charged with serial capital murder. Under the plea bargain agreement with the Jefferson County District Attorney's office, the state waived the death penalty. Sinegal will receive life in prison as a result. Sentencing will be April 9, 2007, in Judge John Stevens courtroom. Sinegal will have to serve 40 years before he becomes eligible for parole.

Sinegal had been charged in the murders of Gafford and Tamplin, who were found beaten to death and stuffed in closets in their Port Arthur homes.

Investigators had been trying to link him to the death of 82 year old Dorothy Barrett, who was also found beaten to death in her closet in April, 2005.

Under the plea agreement with the Jefferson County District Attorney's office, the State will drop its investigation of the Barrett case and waive the death penalty for the murders of Gafford and Tamplin.

Prosecutors credit another woman who was attacked, Brenda Choate, with helping to identify Sinegal.

Choate said a man came into her home on Memorial Drive and attacked her.

She screamed and fought him off, and believes those actions saved her life.

Sinegal was indicted for burglary of a habitation in connection with that crime.

Under the terms of the plea bargain, all other cases against Sinegal will be dropped.

Defense Attorney James Makin and his co-counsel J.D. Hamm believe the plea agreement will benefit all parties and the community.

Makin says the families of the victims will have the chance to address Sinegal during the sentencing April 9 in Judge Stevens' courtroom.


Texas Man Pleads Guilty in Closet Deaths

Friday, February 23, 2007

A convict has pleaded guilty to beating two elderly neighbors and stuffing their bodies into closets.

Gary Sinegal avoided the death penalty and will be sentenced to a life term on his plea Thursday to murder charges in the attacks on Louise Tamplin, 81, and Margie Gafford, 86.

Prosecutor Ed Shettle said the plea agreement was offered in a dispute over Sinegal's mental abilities, which could have blocked his eligibility for the death penalty.

"I'm not willing to say he's mentally retarded, but that would have been an issue," he said.

The women were stuffed into closets in their homes in Sinegal's neighborhood in Port Arthur, about 90 miles east of Houston. They were not sexually assaulted, although both had been partly undressed.

Sinegal had been suspected in a third killing but never charged.

Known for riding his bicycle around the neighborhood, Sinegal had been paroled in 2004 after serving 22 years in prison for an armed robbery of two women and an attack on a 77-year-old woman.


Texas Serial Killer Suspect Believed to Have Killed Local Woman

August 8, 2005

Authorities say a man arrested on murder charges in a neighboring state may have also killed a New Iberia businesswoman. Sheriff Sid Hebert says Texas serial killer suspect Gary Sinegal may be responsible for the beating death of Carrie Billeaud.

Investigators in Port Arthur believe Sinegal may have killed three elderly women and stuffed their bodies into their closets. Sheriff Sid Hebert says the fact that Sinegal was identified and profiled elderly Caucasian females seemed to be a pretty strong link.

Sheriff Hebert says when law enforcement started to realize the particulars with the crimes and Sinegal identified the victim's wallets, one of the primary goals in the beatings and murder tuned them in.

Hebert says Sinegal had unidentified DNA on his clothing when he was arrested, indicating there could be more victims. The Acadiana Crime Lab is submitting DNA samples to a lab in Texas. Results should come back in four to six weeks.


Louisiana Investigators Trying to Determine if Port Arthur Serial Killer Murdered One of Their Own

August 7, 2005

Investigators in Louisiana are trying to determine whether a serial murder suspect in Port Arthur is linked to the unsolved murder of a New Iberia business owner The Daily Iberian reports 62-year-old Carrie Billeaud was found beaten to death last December.

Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert told The Daily Iberian detectives are investigating whether 40-year-old Gary Sinegal might be responsible. "It's an interesting possibility," Hebert said. "I think it`s about 50-50 right now."

Sinegal is accused of killing three elderly Port Arthur women and stuffing their bodies in their closets last April. Prosecutors have formally charged Sinegal with only two of the killings after Port Arthur Police Department could not find enough physical evidence to positively link him to the first of three murders.

Hebert said there were several aspects of the murders in Port Arthur that are "strikingly similar" to Billeaud`s. All of the victims were elderly white females, and all were beaten to death. In each case, Hebert told The Daily Iberian, the only thing taken was the victim`s wallet. All of the victims` shoes were found in a room other than where their body was found.

Hebert says detectives are working with the Acadiana Crime Lab as well as officials here to compare DNA samples taken at the Billeaud crime scene to Sinegal. Hebert said detectives are also trying to determine whether Sinegal was in Louisiana at the time of the killing.

He said Sinegal has family members in the state, but none in the Teche Area. Sinegal`s criminal record shows he has been in and out of custody since 1977. He served two years in prison for an attack on a 77-year-old woman when he was 16.

After serving a 21-year sentence for the armed robberies of two other women, Sinegal was released on parole in November, about a month before Billeaud was killed. New Iberia is located about 150 miles east of Port Arthur.


Serial killer's first victim laid to rest

April 23, 2005

Laid to rest on the same day the Port Arthur Police Department announced the arrest of Gary Sinegal, the suspect in her murder, Dorothy Barrett's family gathered to celebrate the life of their mother, grandmother and best friend.

Family, friends and neighbors congregated at the Community Church in Orange for Barrett's funeral Friday afternoon. Barrett was found earlier in week murdered in her Port Arthur home.

Jerry McNeil, reverend of the Cross Mountain Church in San Antonio, presided over the services and in his words, described Barrett as a virtuous woman with faith in her God.

"We cannot begin to find understanding in this death," McNeil said. "But we can be comforted that this woman, so full of grace and beauty, is now dancing around the Throne of God."

Praised for her pie-baking skills and her kindness to all those in need, Barett's family members and neighbors took a moment each to share their fondest memories of their beloved Dot.


"My mother is my best friend," Valda Simon, Barrett's only child, told the mourners. "She is a precious person. I thank you, God, for my mother."

Following her emotional rendition of "How Great Thou Art," dedicated in honor of her mother, Simon turned the microphone over to members of the audience.

A series of mourners rose to share their tales of Barrett's strength, quest for independence and her tendency to be stubborn.

"She was stubborn like an old Missouri mule," McNeil said. "She was going to have things her way. Recently Dot went to Missouri to take care of a family member. She jumped on a plane, took her wheelchair with her, and set out to do what she did well, taking care of others."

Barrett, 82, was found dead in her home in the 3600 block of Sixth Street on Monday. PAPD Criminal Investigations Division Commander Major Raymond Clark said autopsy results have shown that Barrett died from massive trauma to her chest and facial area.

"She had either been kicked or punched to death," Clark said.

Appearing to be an isolated incident at the time of her death, by the end of the week Barrett's murder would be linked with two other Port Arthur women's deaths and another's attack.

Barrett's neighbors have all commented on how kind and sweet the elderly woman was, Clark said, and those characteristics may have made her attractive to a violent assailant.

"This is the kind of person a violent person would prey on," Clark noted. "That kind of meek person is what they are looking for. They are not looking for a fight or a struggle. I suppose you could say they are looking for the path of least resistance."


Man arrested in slayings of 3 Port Arthur women

Elderly women targeted; survivor gives description

April 23, 2005

Associated Press

PORT ARTHUR - A man arrested Friday and suspected in the deaths of three elderly women whose bodies were found stuffed in their closets has an almost 30-year history of burglaries and beatings.

Police arrested Gary Sinegal, 40, on Friday and charged him with violating his parole and burglary in the attack of a woman who fought back and gave police a description of the suspect. He is the lead suspect in the deaths of a woman whose body was found Monday and two others found in their homes on Thursday, police said.

Sinegal has denied involvement in the four attacks.

On Monday, 82-year-old Dorothy Barrett was found in a closet, said Deputy Police Chief Raymond Clark. The bodies of the two other victims 81-year-old Louise Tamplin and 86-year-old Margie Gafford were found in their homes Thursday.

All three died of blunt force trauma and lived within a few streets of each other in the same neighborhood as Sinegal. Tamplin and Gafford had been doing yard work Thursday, said Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Bob Morgan.

Robert Choate said his wife, Brenda, was doing yard work about 2:30 p.m. Thursday when she found a man in their house.

Choate, who tearfully described seeing his wife covered in blood, said the man knocked his wife down three times, but she continued to fight him until he ran away. She later picked Sinegal out of a police lineup.

"He knocked her down and he kicked on her and she kicked him off," Choate said. "I think he thought, 'I better get away from this broad because she is going to put me in the closet.' "

Sinegal's criminal record shows he has been in and out of custody since 1977.

One of eight children whose father abandoned them the year he was born, Sinegal was given juvenile probation at age 13 in 1977 for seven auto burglaries. He was committed to the Texas Youth Commission in 1978 for another theft but was out by 1980, when his crimes turned violent.

"This is a streetwise young man who seems to have a good grasp of the social realities confronting him," wrote Dr. Jerome G. Die, who certified him to stand trial as an adult in that case.

He was given a four-year sentence but was paroled two years later. In 1984, he was sentenced for an armed robbery of a convenience-store manager and her daughter, serving 20 years before being paroled last year.

In 1999, Sinegal wrote to state District Judge Leonard Giblin asking that his sentence be commuted and promising to be a law-abiding citizen.

Two girls who live next door to Sinegal led authorities to him after seeing his description in media reports.



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