"When humans act with cruelty we characterise them as 'animals' , yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity."
-Anthony Douglas Williams
It was the 6th of December 2014. 53 year old Kathy Blair lived in Austin, Texas, United States. She wasn't from Austin. She was born in California but moved to Austin due to her love of music and worked as a choir director there. Kathy wasn't married, she lived alone. She divorced twice but in 2013 finally found a home she was happy with. It was in a quiet area called Tamarack Trail.
That night, the 6th of December, Kathy's son Joe was staying with her. He went out for the night and when he returned he made a shocking discovery. Kathy was dead. She had been murdered.
In her bedroom, her jewellery box was on the floor. All of the drawers had been pulled out and stacked and jewellery was missing from the drawers. There was blood on the light switch and drawers so police believed the murder took place before the lights were switched on and drawers pulled out. Aside from that, there was no physical evidence.
Kathy had been strangled, stabbed and slashed across the neck.
A man in the area spoke with police. At 1.30 am that night, he was out walking and saw a car pull up and park on the street. The person he saw then turned left on the Kathy's street. The man gave a good description of what the car was like.
While police were still trying to work out what happened to Kathy,another murder took place just nine days later.
The murder was just 15 minutes away from Kathy's home. 83 year old Billie and her 85 year old husband Sidney Shelton were murdered. The hard working couple had been married for 64 years. On that day, the 15th of December 2014, the nurse, Dow Karla, called in for a routine visit and found their front door busted open. The bedroom had been ransacked. Just like in Kathy's home, the jewellery box was emptied and the drawers stacked.
Billie and Sidney Shelton
The crime was so similar to Kathy's murder that police tried to find a link. They got a break three weeks after Kathy's murder. The name Tim Parlins appeared in their enquiries. Tim had worked in Kathy's home previously , he did some yard work for her. One of Kathy's friends told police that he was really "weird and rude".
Police searched Tim's home and spoke with his wife and discovered some news that peaked their interest. Tim had served time in prison and had stolen jewellery in the past. His wife confirmed that they also knew the Sheltons from Church.
When police searched Tim's home, they found a pawn receipt for jewellery. It belonged to one of Kathy's necklaces. It had been pawned the same night that she was murdered.
Further evidence was discovered. Police knew the type of car they were looking for due to the neighbour's description. Tim didn't drive a car like that but they discovered his sister did and found Kathy's blood in her car. Tim was brought in for questioning and told police that he didn't do it but he knew who did. He was willing to tell them who it was. Shawn Gantbenalcazar.
When police met Shawn, they discovered he was very different to Tim. Unlike Tim, Shawn was not known to police and had never been in trouble before. Shawn worked as a high school science teacher and had a degree in microbiology. He was 30 years old and Tim was 49 years old.
Shawn told police that he didn't really know Tim. He met him a few months previously as his sister began dating Tim's nephew. Shawn didn't seem like a good fit for the murders but when police discovered he was in Austin the same time as the murders, they decided to investigate further. Despite telling police that he didn't really know Tim, it transpired that Shawn stayed with Tim when he was in Austin.
The more police questioned Shawn, the more details they got. Shawn admitted he was in the car with Tim the night Kathy was murdered. He claimed he stayed in the car when Tim went into Kathy's home alone. The questioning continued and Shawn eventually admitted he was in the house and stole jewellery. Shawn said that he was looking at Kathy in bed but she suddenly woke up and jumped at him. Kathy tried to grab the knife and there was a struggle and Shawn stabbed her in the neck.He gave the jewellery to Tim.
Police wanted answers about the Sheltons but Shawn stopped talking. He said that he wasn't there for that one.
Tim told police they were at both houses.He drove the car to both houses. Apart from that though, there was no other evidence connecting Shawn to the Shelton's murder. He was charged with Kathy's murder only.
At the Trial, Shawn's lawyer argued that his confession was coerced. He said that police threatened him. At the Trial, Shawn gave evidence. He told the Court that police made him confess but it was really Tim who had killed Kathy.
After 19 hours of Jury deliberations, the Judge declared a mistrial. The Jury could not reach a verdict.
Tim was charged with the murders of Kathy and the Sheltons. In Texas, if you are part of the crime , you are also guilty of that crime. By his own admission, he drove the car to both houses. Tim told the Court he didn't even go inside either house, he simply drove the car. That didn't matter. He was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Shawn , as his first Trial was declared a mistrial, was brought forward for a second Trial. His defence was the same as at his first Trial. His confession was coerced. This time the Jury did not believe him and it took them less than 3 hours to find him guilty of capital murder. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.