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Report: Woman shot, killed in front of toddler in Gilmer

By Sarah Thomas sthomas@news-journal.com
Sept. 27, 2013 at 10 p.m.


GILMER - A woman shot to death Thursday night during half time of a sub-varsity football game was there to pick up her young son from his father.

She never left with the boy.

Police said Jonathan Ray Shepherd left the stands where he was sitting with his wife to go to the parking lot of Buckeye Stadium. He was to hand over his almost 2-year-old son to the boy's mother, Cheyenne Green, with whom he shared custody.

There, police said, she was shot to death in front of the boy.

Green, 29, was found dead on the ground next to a running vehicle with the child still in the back seat, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Upshur County District Court. Police said later she had been shot at least once.

Shepherd then called his wife, Suzan Bates, to tell her he'd "done something bad and couldn't take it anymore." Green was dead, he said, according to the criminal complaint. "He had killed her."

Shepherd, 32, asked Bates to get his son from the vehicle where he'd left the boy in the back seat.

An unidentified Gilmer High School student told police Sgt. Roxanne Warren that Shepherd and Green had been arguing about parental rights.

The meeting had been set for Shepherd to return his son to Green during half time of the Gilmer-Gladewater game, according to an affidavit.

Under terms of a custody agreement filed Nov. 29 in the Gregg County District Clerk's Office, the two were supposed to exchange the boy only inside the Gilmer Police Department.

Bates called 911 about 9 p.m. after talking to Shepherd, and officers from the Gilmer Police Department, Upshur County Sheriff's Office and Texas Department of Public Safety converged on the parking lot.

While Warren and other officers were conducting the investigation, Shepherd called his best friend, Todd Cain, who was standing near Warren at the scene. Shepherd told him he "couldn't believe he had done it, and he was looking for a place to hide and that he might inflict death or injury to himself," according to the complaint.

Gilmer police arrested Shepherd later Thursday night in the parking lot of the Gilmer Police Department, said Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd.

Shepherd was arraigned on murder charges Friday morning in 115th District Court. He was being held in the Upshur County Jail under $1 million bond.

"We believe he is the only suspect," Byrd said.

He would not disclose the type of gun used, where Green was shot or say whether Shepherd voluntarily surrendered.

"There have been a number of statements taken, and there will be more statements taken," Byrd said. "Not only would it be improper to release details, it could jeopardize the investigation."

Green's body was sent to Southeast Texas Forensic Center in Tyler for autopsy.

She was an administrative assistant at Gregg Industrial Insulators in Longview for the past two years, according to a statement the company released Friday.

"The owners, management and employees of Gregg Industrial Insulators, Inc. are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Cheyenne Green. Cheyenne was a loyal employee for Gregg Industrial Insulators... . She will be greatly missed by everyone who worked with and knew her. Our thoughts and prayers are with her son and family during this most difficult time," the statement said.

No Gilmer or Gladewater ISD students, faculty or staff were involved in the incident, Byrd said.

Gilmer ISD Superintendent Rick Albritton released a statement Friday to reassure the community the campus was safe.

"I want everyone to know that safety is our number one priority. I can assure you that if we thought our students or staff was in danger in any way, we would not have held school this morning," he wrote. "Please join us in keeping the victim and the victim's family and friends in our thoughts and prayers."

- News-Journal staff members Peggy Jones, Christina Lane and Reese Gordon contributed to this report.

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