April 24, 2015. Except there was one wrinkle. One afternoon, he showed up at Oliver Pecan Company an hour before closing time to ask for a job. 1:20 Cold Justice Kelly Siegler Meets with . It's not clear if that agreement could be legally enforced. By 1884, the town had four churches, two schools, a sawmill and a gristmill, a bank, a paper, and a population of 800. The Millicans, their lease having expired, were no longer caring for the orchards, and as I passed by the historic groves, the trees looked unkempt, thirsty from the drought and in need of a trim. (We dont have the budget of big cities, so we had to use the same thing we use to record traffic stops to record a capital homicide confession, explained Wilkerson.) [The doctor] had given us explicit instructions not to feed this baby and put him down with nobody around. (Bonnies niece Teresa contests this view. He expected that his father would hand over the day-to-day operations of the farm in the same way O.B. I do have family who want the property I live on and I have heard many times they want to get rid of me., Betty Ann stopped by the house twice a day and hired caregivers who could be with her around the clock. The natives, who make up most of Louisiana's crop, don't fare so well, selling between 40 and 60 cents per pound. They set up a sting operation, in which an informant provided Bruce with an illegal silencer and federal agents then arrested him, charging him with possession of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. Left: The entrance to the Harkey homestead off U.S. 190. Harkey was arrested and charged with solicitation of murder.. Bruce seethed. After Connie had her mothers drivers license revoked, in 2009, Bonnies condition only worsened. An old holiday photo of Bonnie and her grandson Carl Pressley. There was testimony during the trial that Bruce Harkey told Pressley to kill everybody at Bonnie Harkeys house, McAfee said. Read More. She got confused at church, showing up at the wrong Sunday school class one week. But today, there are no Harkeys left on the farm. A DPS helicopter dispatched from Waco made slow circles overhead, scanning the ground with heat-imaging cameras. Pressley, 29, has confessed to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. While Bruce had never harbored warm feelings for Carl, the younger man sought desperately to impress his uncle. She agreed, and after sitting together at the foot of the bed, Carl lunged toward her with a pillow. . We report on vital issues from politics to education and are the indispensable authority on the Texas scene, covering everything from music to cultural events with insightful recommendations. The three kids did not take well to one another, and John and Bruce treated their stepmother unkindly from the outset. Bruce was infuriated. Still, in 1957, O.B. House in Marcq-en-Barul, Hauts-de-France, France Contact. He was already resentful of decisions Spinks had been makingthis was the last straw. The sergeant did his best to reassure him: Your grandmothers forgiven you for everything else.. One thing theyd disagreed on was the day-to-day operations of the farm; Bruce wanted Spinks to pay him a salary to manage the orchards, but Spinks leased the property to Winston Millican. Though the couple had a daughter and a son, they ended up separating, and Carl started dating Lillian King, with whom he had another daughter, in 2008. The investigation into the murder of Bonnie Harkey and her caretaker broadens as lawmen look for a motive in the family's history. View Details. As I got out to read the inscription, the propertys owner, a mustachioed 74-year-old named Larry Hibler, rode up to me on an ATV. The Harkey brothers offered to give Bonnie Harkey $44,000, but her guardian thought she should receive $240,000, McAfee said. If Riley represented security, Bonnie, for her part, embodied the kind of feminine presence that was missing from the Harkey household. Bonnie, who had been watching Eric, rushed him to the hospital, but by the time she got there, the baby was dead. Nobody else did that after the seventies., Perhaps it was Rileys work ethic and stature that first caught the attention of Bonnie Sawyer Compton. Bruce said he wanted me to get rid of her and take herhell put money in my bank account., According to Carl, Bruce had come to see him on Friday to propose a deal. But that didnt mean he was responsible for her murder. Bruce and Judi were devastated. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. Just before daybreak, Carl and Lillian arrived at the San Saba County jail, a compact limestone building that is the oldest continuously operating jail in the U.S. John joined with Bruce in court to try to remove Connie as guardian; they failed, but then Connie died suddenly, in March 2011 at age 62, after a bout with pneumonia. I want to stay here as long as I can.. (Bruce initially offered $500, but Carl, knowing his financial situation, offered to do it for $50 less. While admitting to the kidnapping and murders, Pressley says he did it because his uncle, Bruce Harkey, paid him to do it. FULL EPISODE: Queen of the County He needed an address to satisfy probation requirements, so he sent letter after letter to Bonnie, begging her to let him live on the Harkey farm. View 11 photos $759,263 4 Beds 5 Baths 1442 sqft. EDHEC Alumni. A search team, which included volunteers on ATVs, local firefighters, sheriffs deputies, and a bloodhound named J.J. from the nearby state prison, soon fanned out across the property. These nuts have a praline-flavored coating, making them a crunchy, but no less sweet, alternative to the thick, chewy praline burger. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. Scanner chatter is a rich source of gossip in this tiny Central Texas city of 3,099, and ears perked up that Sunday as paramedics and law enforcement officers rushed four miles west of town to Harkeyville, where a 1927 red-brick house sat among three hundred acres of pecan orchards. He would choke her, pull her hair, and eventually even hold a gun to her head, threatening to kill her for a perceived slight such as not having dinner on the table by six oclock. The sentencing hearings for Carl and Lillian took place a couple of weeks later at the San Saba County courthouse. Lillian had dropped him off at the house while Bonnie was at church; hed climbed in through a window and hidden downstairs, smoking meth while he awaited her return. Spinks, after looking over the deal, found that the terms were not beneficial to Bonnie and refused to sign off on it. There were weevils and caterpillars and webworms. How long does it take for a pecan tree to fully mature? But as an ensuing investigation would soon reveal, her death represented the final, sordid unraveling of one of the oldest lineages in Central Texasthe story of a family tree rotted through by the destructive forces of obsession, greed, and hate. Bonnie Harkey's . Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. San Saba County But they werent real tears.. How much money can you make with pecan trees? mostly concerned himself with fire ants, which can hamper the grafting process and damage expensive irrigation equipment. Riley had his own way of doing things, recalled Winston Millican, a great-great-grandson of Edmund Risiens who maintains his own pecan orchards in San Saba. View 11 photos $963,709 3767 sqft. He gave the co-worker three gunstwo old Chinese military rifles and one semiautomatic .22asking him to obliterate the serial numbers; he also talked about rubbing poison on Kamis steering wheel. Riley, meanwhile, focused on the familys holdings outdoors, tending as always to his pecan trees. That summer the couple left San Saba and moved to Lubbock,where, like his siblings, Bruce enrolled at Texas Tech. Mesa, Az. The town has recently focused its energies on tourism, redeveloping its downtown, but the pecan industry remains alive and well. One of Dwight's cousins moved to San Saba, attended The Father House, and went to the Christian Women's . If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. including 3 cats, a dog, a gecko and a pet snake. (Many think Jones was less interested in pecans than in the excellent water rights that come with the property.) Bruce could con you into doing anything he wanted you to do, he said mournfully in his prison whites. SAN SABA, Texas (KXAN) At 85, Bonnie Harkey was loved by her neighbors in San Saba County and affectionately known as the Pecan Queen because of the sprawling and fertile farm of nut-bearing trees that had been in her family for years. She never said anything about it, but I could tell by the way she acted.. When I reached out to Bruce for his side of things, he sent me a letter. The he denies any wrongdoing comes as no surprise to investigators. Now word around town was that hed begun to eye the Prichard Orchard. If you want to enjoy the unmistakable flavor of chocolates but don't like candy, praline nuts are an excellent option. Second of all, if I thought somebody needed killing that bad, I would take care of it myself., Investigators, however, had reasons to be suspicious. I know things are crazy right now, but I might have some information about where Bonnie Harkey is, the friend told the dispatcher. Before the Great Depression shuttered most of the town, the racehorses and mules bred by Riley were known to attract crowds of spectators from all over Texas. There was bunch disease and stem end blight and fungal twig dieback. Bruce began to spend more time with his nephew Carl, who was now 24. Back in San Saba, meanwhile, Bonnie and Riley had become grandparents again. House in Tourcoing, Hauts-de-France, France Contact. You get rid of that kid or Im going back to Waco, he claims she told Riley. I do drive slowly more times than I should because I would not want to hurt anyone. A portrait of Bonnie used in her obituary. One time she wrote about sports. But then things went suddenly and terribly awry: on April 15, as Bruce sat in English class, the baby stopped breathing. Those close to Bonnie say she was afraid of Bruce and other family members. How many years does it take for a pecan tree to produce pecans? Bonnie Harkey owned the pecan farm and had willed 94 acres of it to a grandson, Carl Wade Pressley. Bruce Harkey in the visitors room at the Byrd Unit, in Huntsville, in September 2014. Bonnie let the baby die because he was a threat to her, because he was the firstborn male heir to Harkey Farms, he told me. My grandfather assumed that if anyone were to take over the farm, it would be me. Several of the older ones had died. I do not take any medicine that would cause unsafe driving. The best result we found for your search is Bonnie Heakins Harkey age 60s in Charlotte, NC in the Sardis Woods neighborhood. The Harkey family owns hundreds of acres of walnut farmland in Central Texas. He called Sheriff Brown. We didnt know he had stolen them, said Shawn Oliver. Then, in 2007, hed looked west, buying the 209-acre strip of farmland adjacent to Harkey Pecan Farms, where he grew wheat and grazed his horses. It was almost more than Bruce could bear. Proper noun a rione in Rome, Italy, named after the local basilica. When Bonnie Harkey, the 85-year-old matriarch of a prominent San Saba family, was brutally murdered in 2012, her death spelled the end of a legendary pecan dynasty. I didnt have anything to do with the death of Bonnie Harkey or Ms. Johnson, he repeated. Both testified at Bruce Harkeys trial about the murder-for-hire arrangement. While his grandmother was still alive, Pressley sold the rights to his share for about $70,000 to Bruce Harkey and his brother, the district attorney said. He would go along and dig up an ant bed, and he would sprinkle them, and we would go to the next tree, Bruce recalled. In a heartbreaking letter to the Texas Department of Public Safety to contest the revocation of her license, she wrote, in shaky cursive: I really dont know what caused someone to report that I am incapable of operating an automobile. Bonnie Harkey was reported missing on March 26, 2012, after Johnsons body was found at Harkeys home. I drove to San Saba in late summer. Despite these outbursts, she continued to write checks for him. He sped down U.S. 190 in his white truck, passing neatly tended rows of pecan trees and the cattle auction barn, then crossed the San Saba River and rumbled down the caliche road to the two-story house. I try to be careful when driving. His left arm was taken off above the elbow in an accident in the late fifties, but hed tuck a grub hoe under his stub and put a mayonnaise pint jar in his hip pocket filled with ant poison. A contract was immediately drawn up. April 24, 2015 They were blowing through that money. With about $20,000 left, and almost no other income to speak of, Bruce had grown nervous. By the time they arrived, it was evening, and Carl told Bonnie that he wanted to show her a real nice fishing hole.. As a favor to their friends son,Betty Ann and Craigan Johnson hired him to clean out their barn, but the work was short-term. It was assumed by many that the ambulance was for Bonnie Harkey, the matriarch. (John by this time had settled outside Fort Worth and had three children of his own.) Carl started crying at this point, Lillian later recalled. The way it looked, making sure it was well manicured. Yet while their life appeared to be in perfect order, Bonnie and Rileys marriage was not always a happy one. Where is Harkeyville Texas? Bruce moved into an upstairs bedroom, where he was joined by his ex-wife Jennifer Karnes, with whom hed renewed a relationship after divorcing Kami. For almost three years after her death, the house remained exactly as Bonnie left it. Family, friend, or fan, this family history biography is for you to remember Connie N Harkey. The care of the orchard was very important to him, remembered Millicans wife, Kristen, who grew up across from one of Rileys groves. Karens eleven-year-old son, who had found her and called 911, stood on the front porch clutching a cordless phone. There was no sign of a struggle, except for a broken fingernail on Karens right hand. Top: The foyer where Karen Johnson was found dead. His ex-wife, his eighth wife Kami, said Brucetried to have her killed, too. I still have the scar where my brother kicked me. There was drought and sudden freeze and poor soil drainage. The jury took one hour to find him guilty. So, Bruce Harkey asked Pressley to kill everybody at the house, McAfee said. Carl, looking pudgy and sporting a large horseshoe mustache, nervously bounced his legs, his feet shackled, as he sat in his orange-and-white jumpsuit. But he didnt think she would survive the surgery to fix it, and Bonnie insisted on spending whatever days she had left in the house. and his only child, 32-year-old Riley, together with Rileys two sonsten-year-old John and five-year-old Bruceplanted another 1,500 trees, in a grove that came to be known as the Harkeyville Orchard. PeopleFinders is the best people search for finding people and public records. McAfee said he thought jurors were swayed by testimony from several witnesses who said Bruce Harkey had told them that he would be out of town one weekend. What is the average price of pecans per pound? Who else is involved in this?, Carl paused for a moment and looked down. He just had a meltdown. He grew controlling in his marriage, abusing Kami verbally and then, after she gave birth to their daughter in 1998, physically. Press ESC to cancel. Pressley and his girlfriend, Lillian King, face charges in San Saba and Leon counties. He said he would kill me and they would never implicate him, Kami told KXAN. It was very true. View the profiles of people named Bonnie Harkey. Authorities say Harkey had a deal to sell his stepmother's pecan ranch in San Saba County for more than $570,000, but couldn't agree with Johnson on how much to give Bonnie Harkey. Bonnies arrival, however, when Bruce was eleven, made the future uncertain. In San Saba 237 years later, March 25 dawned as an unremarkable Sunday. But to Bruces dismay, Bonnie effortlessly took on the role of family matriarch. She was the closest thing to a mother I ever had, he said, choking back tears. Copyright 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Bruce, Carl said, had been talking constantly about getting rid of Bonnie. They would laugh at her and criticize her food, her sister continued. That December, she won second place for her pie and cookie entries in the San Saba County Pecan Food Show; the next year she was on the front page of theNews & Starholding a plaque for her champion pecans. Left: Bonnies bedroom, decorated with her paintings of flowers. The daughter of Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman and the late Beth Chapman told ET Thursday that she lost her home in a fire. But Bruce, now a convicted felon, had trouble finding work. Bonnie Louise Harkey Birth 26 Aug 1947 - Iredell, North Carolina Death 2017 - Mocksville, Davie, North Carolina, USA Mother Lucille Virgina Thompson Father David Lee Harkey Quick access Family tree 314 New search Bonnie Louise Harkey family tree Family tree Explore more family trees Parents David Lee Harkey 1911 - 1990 Lucille Virgina Thompson What are the 12 general lab safety rules. Riley, for his part, began turning his thoughts to the future, and in 1991 he purchased a third pecan grove, a 94-acre plot of young trees called the Prichard Orchard. How much is a full grown pecan tree worth? Watching through a pair of binoculars, hed stare, for hours at a time, at the orchards that werent his. But her violent death in March shook the quiet Hill Country community about two hours northwest of Austin, both for its brutality and for the fact that members of her own family were charged in what authorities a far-reaching murder-for-hire scheme over the Harkey family fortune. The animals died from smoke inhalation. He dropped out of college and moved west, driving trucks in California and holding odd jobs before finding work in Nevada as an officer in the Reno Police Department in 1978. The Harkey family was well known in their small Texas town. This idea consumed him. Tonight @DatelineNBC reports on the death of Bonnie Harkey, the matriarch of a prominent San Saba pecan farming family. Riley did die, in July 1997, after succumbing to advanced bone cancerthe result, a few townspeople speculated, of exposure to the chemicals he sprayed on his pecan trees. She was very good to everybody she knew too good to these people who took advantage of her, said Donna Bush., According to police, one Sunday back in the early spring while Bonnie was at church, her adopted grandson, Carl Pressley, sneaked into her home. 2:26. It didnt help that Bonnie was showing signs of dementia. He was released in December 2007, and after a brief stint in an Austin halfway house,Bruce returned to San Saba for good. View 10 photos $931,099 5 Beds 3 Baths 2153 sqft. They ate out all the time, they got into online gaming, explained Wilkerson, who obtained Bruces bank records during his investigation. He was floored. Bruce was sentenced to life without parole. I cant tell you how many hundreds of miles my grandfather and I walked in that Harkeyville Orchard, said Bruce recently. Search Begins for Missing Bonnie Harkey. Bruce Harkey, who had been taking care of the orchard, was fired sometime during 2011, McAfee said. Im gonna be out of town. They thought the whole county should still revolve around them. And where was Bonnie? Native pecan trees already dotted the property, including one that theSan Saba Newswould later proclaim to be among the most beautiful and symmetric pecan trees in the county, but O.B., as he was known, planted the familys first orchard in 1926, installing a grove of 1,200 trees and naming it the Home Place Orchard. But the guardian for Bonnie Harkey, who was still living on the land, turned down the offer, saying Mrs. Harkey had a right to receive interest from the sale of the land, McAfee said. Bonnie H Harkey is listed at 1340 Sardis Rd N Charlotte, Nc 28270 and is affiliated with the Republican Party. I was in the backseat, and I leaned forward and said, So, do we call you Mom now or what? he said. What are the top 5 pecans producing states? I guess with any big estate worth any value, if youve got a bunch of people involved, theres going to be fuss.. He stayed for about two hours and cried, recalled Shawn Oliver, Clydenes son. Another time, when Bonnie refused to buy him a set of new tires, Carl blocked her car with his truck and refused to let her leave. Dateline NBC will air a report on the Harkey family on April 23 at 10pm. But when one of the owners couldnt get the blessing of his stepmothers guardian to sell it, authorities said, he decided to kill for it. The door to the Harkey familys historic house. Harkey was, recalled family friend Donna Bush, "one of the sweetest ladies I ever knew." If you fill out the first name, last name, or agree to terms fields, you will NOT be added to the newsletter list. Kosciusko, MS. BURNET, Texas (AP) - A Central Texas man faces life in prison for plotting the death of his stepmother so he could sell her lucrative pecan farm and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Certified twitter advocate. Anything in this world that was wrong in Bruces life, he blamed Bonnie.). She aint going to forgive me, Carl told Wilkerson through tears. The relationship devolved rather quickly, recalled Spinks. In one anecdote he liked to tell, she made her feelings clear one afternoon when the family was in her new desert rose Thunderbird. A change of venue brought the high-profile trial to Burnet County. To comfort her, the sheriff handed her a cup of water, and her lawyer whispered, You are making out better than anyone else in this, by far. She received 45 years. One major source of tension was their blended family. Most famous for its abundance of pecans hence being known as The Pecan Capital of the World this Hill Country destination is packed with specialty shops selling all sorts of pecan-related goodies. The jury deliberated for about an hour Tuesday, and Bruce Harkey received an automatic sentence of life in prison. A few hours after Carls confession, news reached Bruce that the investigation was tightening around him. And then there was cotton root rot, the most pernicious of diseases, which could kill a tree from the inside. Ill pay you. It didnt matter that Carl had signed away his rightsBonnie still had a life estate in the property. The gravestone for Bruces firstborn, Eric Harkey, in the San Saba City Cemetery. In September 2011, Bonnie was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which the doctor explained could take her life at any moment. No detail in his orchards escaped him. When shed tell a story, hed interrupt and say, No, thats not the way it goes, recalled Bonnies sister. When I arrived at the historical marker for Harkeyville, I stopped the car. Harkeyville is north of U.S. Highway 190 two miles west of San Saba in central San Saba County. Bruce looked forward to the day when hed take care of the orchards himself. Despite the chaos, Bonnie remained lucid about some things. That weekend turned out to be when the murders happened. But all she did was laugh. He got married and divorced two more timesa daughter was born in 1982and then returned to Texas, where in 1987 he snagged a plum position in the Texas attorney generals office investigating Medicaid fraud and nursing home abuse.
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