A Texas sheriff’s deputy fatally shot his paralyzed girlfriend and then claimed to authorities she took her own life, police said.
Jay Allen Rotter, a 36-year-old deputy with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Monday on charges of murder and evidence tampering in the death of 46-year-old Leslie Lynn Hartman, Denton police said in a statement.
Rotter called 911 on Aug. 26 to report that Hartman shot herself in their home, where responding cops found her dead inside, police said.
“It was determined that Rotter and the deceased female were the only two people living in the residence at the time of the incident,” police said.
Rotter had identified himself as an officer during the 911 call – and said he was hugging Hartman when she shot herself in the head, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Dallas Morning News.
Rotter claimed he “would have stopped” Hartman — who was paralyzed and used a wheelchair — from shooting herself if he could have, the affidavit states.
But investigators found chat logs sent by the deputy on the night of the shooting that indicated otherwise, as well as evidence at the home that didn’t match his version of events, police said.
Rotter later declined when a detective asked to take a look at his phone and returned the device back to its factory settings when investigators stepped out of an interview room, the affidavit states.
A search warrant later revealed Rotter used the chat service Discord earlier that evening to send a message about shooting a milk bottle in his backyard.
About 15 minutes later, chat logs showed Rotter and Hartman were arguing about his gunplay in the backyard, where a milk bottle with a bullet hole was later found in the trash, police said.
Rotter then sent a message investigators said referred to the deadly shooting, according to the affidavit.
“I just sent a 9 millie in this [expletive] hippie,” police said.
A search of Hartman’s cellphone found no evidence that she was depressed or suicidal, but she did text a friend saying Rotter was “in a mood” and needed to “sort himself out” as she referred to drugs he was taking, the affidavit states.
Hartman’s autopsy is still listed as pending, the newspaper reports.
Rotter, a deputy since 2005 who was assigned to the department’s narcotics division, remained jailed on $1,150,000 bail as of early Wednesday. He’s been placed on administrative leave following his arrest, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Public lands boss William Perry Pendley serving unlawfully: judge
A federal judge ruled Friday that the top US official overseeing public lands has been serving unlawfully in his post and blocked him from continuing on in the position.
William Perry Pendley has spent more than 400 days as acting director of the US Interior Department Bureau of Land Management. But US District Judge Brian Morris said his rulings were null and void during that time period as he has never been lawfully confirmed by the Senate.
The ruling came after Montana Governor Steve Bullock sued Pendley saying the ex-oil and gas industry attorney did not have authority to make decisions over his state’s public lands.
“Today’s ruling is a win for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our public lands,” the governor said in a statement.
The Trump administration has often relied on officials serving in an acting capacity to skirt around Constitutional requirements that senior government officials be confirmed by the Senate. The administration is known to churn through political appointees and Senate confirmation fights are often lengthy, high profile, and bitterly partisan affairs.
Conner Swanson, a spokesman for the Interior Department, called the decision “outrageous” and “well outside the bounds of law,” and added that it would be swiftly appealed.
With Post wires
My fiancé’s 1979 murder fuels my career now
Years before she became Nancy Grace, legal commentator and host of her own show, “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” on Fox Nation, she was Nancy Grace, a 19-year-old English literature major at Mercer University in Georgia. She spent her days studying Shakespeare and dreamed of becoming a professor. She was about to be married to Keith Griffin, a 23-year-old geology student who had been earning extra money working for the Ingram Construction Company on the Georgia Kraft Plywood site near Madison, Ga.
And then tragedy struck.
One day in August 1979, a few months before the wedding, Griffin took the company truck out to buy sodas for himself and his co-workers. As he drove out of the Kraft Plywood entrance road and onto US Route 278, he was shot and killed by a former co-worker, Tommy McCoy, who had recently been fired from the construction company. McCoy had no prior criminal record.
The killing shattered Grace’s world; she completely lost her appetite, and dropped out of school for a time.
“I had no idea what was going on in the world until Keith was murdered,” Grace told The Post. “Since then, I’ve been driven by the idea that if I could stop one crime, it would be worth it.”
When she went back to school, she went in a different direction, getting her JD degree at Mercer, followed by a master’s of law at New York University. As she devoted her life to getting criminals off the streets, McCoy was convicted for murder in 1980 and served more than 25 years in prison until his parole in 2006.
Grace spent almost a decade as special prosecutor for the Atlanta-Fulton County District Attorney’s office in Georgia before catching the attention of Court TV founder Steven Brill, who invited her to be a co-host with Johnnie Cochran on the network — and turned her into a star.
After having sworn she would never marry or have kids, Grace did find love again: In 2007, she married David Linch and in 2008 became a mother to their twins, John David and Lucy, who are now 12.
Her new book, “Don’t Be a Victim: Fighting Back Against America’s Crime Wave” (Grand Central Publishing), out now, aims to arm people with safety tips: “Do not linger in the parking lot, on arrival or on departure. Don’t start a phone conversation. Keep moving,” she advises in one chapter. In another, she urges: “Never have your child’s belongings monogrammed or stylized with their name or initials. This makes it so much easier for a predator to get your child’s attention by calling out their name, and in that one moment they attack. Being called by their name also lulls a child into the belief the predator knows them and their family.”
The Post caught up with Grace recently to talk about the book, current events — and moving on after tragedy:
Were you a different person before Keith died?
I’ve been told I had a completely different personality before then. I don’t remember who that girl was! I just wanted to read Shakespeare all day, and teach it. I grew up in a very rural area out in the middle of Georgia, on a red dirt road with a well dug by my grandfather. The bookmobile would come out to serve the needy people — i.e., us! I had never heard of violence or racism or poverty. No one had anything, but we were happy. After school, I’d ride my bike until I could hear the church steeple ringing to signal that it was time for dinner.
You spend your professional life dealing with very dark stuff. What do you do when you want to relax, or shut it all out?
Up until I had kids, I had no desire to shut any of it out. When I’m not fighting crime, I feel like a fish out of water. [But] the children forced me to change my life. I don’t want them to have a sad mommy or to have a life that is overshadowed by crime. So when I pick them up from school, I turn it all off and I make a conscious effort to do what they need. I cook 5 to 6 nights a week and we sit down together to eat. I play, swim, bike with them. I even became a scout leader! I want my little girl to be an Eagle if she wants to. I pitch tents in the rain, in the dark. I’m all in. I don’t want to be distracted. Unwittingly, the kids have made me let go a little bit. They have somehow brought real joy into my life for the first time since Keith was killed. It’s real, and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me.
What made you want to write this book?
As part of “Crime Stories,” I get to help fight crime. Looking back and thinking about all the cases I investigated, I wanted to use all that to help people not become a victim in the first place. So the book is me trying to make sense of all of it to help other people.
What’s a good safety tip for parents to follow?
Well, 30 percent of child abductions have something to do with the school route. So I get up around 5 every morning and I get everything ready to take the children to school. I always take them to school myself.
What do you think about the “defund the police” slogan?
The thought of defunding the police is ridiculous. I know there are some bad apples and some criminals that are cops. For the most part, judges, cops, are some of the most honorable people I’ve ever met. What happened to George Floyd is wrong and I’d happily prosecute all of those cops. They were all there and they were all responsible. But defunding [the police] does not stop crimes.
Couple charged in grisly murder, dismember of body at golf course
California deputies said they arrested a man and a woman in connection with a grisly murder and dismembered body recovered from the lake of a golf course.
According to The Sun, Kimberly Machleit, 35, and Donald Anderson, 37, were arrested after a dive team found the unidentified remains at Blacklake Golf Course in Nipomo, San Luis Obispo County.
Although authorities have not identified the victim, sheriff’s office officials did state the person had been missing since 2018.
Authorities also stated that the suspect and the victim knew each other, prior to the presumed murder and golf course dismemberment.
No other details were provided about the role the pair may have played in the death.
“It appears that the victim was murdered in the city of Santa Maria and dismembered before being disposed of at the golf course in December 2018,” the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.
According to KTLA in Los Angeles, it has not been disclosed how the person found dismembered on the golf course was actually murdered.
Machleit was booked on suspicion of a charge murder with special circumstances and conspiracy, while Anderson was booked on accessory charges.
Both are currently being held on bond and it isn’t clear if they have attorneys available to comment.
“The suspects and the victim knew each other and this was not a random act,” officials said without elaborating.
According to a review of online jail records, both Machleit and Anderson remain in active custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail.
As the Associated Press reports, Machleit, Anderson and a third man were recently freed on bail.
The trio was arrested last month in Santa Maria on suspicion of possessing drugs for sale and being felons in possession of firearms.
It is not clear if that third person is connected to the murder and dismemberment on the golf course.
Kimberly Machleit, 35, of Santa Maria, was arrested on suspicion of murder with special circumstances and conspiracy, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Office.
As a result of the previous arrest, sheriff’s officials also seized a large number of drugs and stolen guns connected to the couple charged in the golf course murder-dismemberment.
According to CBS affiliate KOVR in Sacramento, authorities seized methamphetamine, heroin, materials related to narcotics sales and several illegal or stolen guns — including a sawed-off shotgun — as a result of the arrest last month.
The sheriff’s office is not identifying the victim while awaiting an official ruling from the county medical examiner, according to True Crime Daily.
It is not clear when the couple is due back in court. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information in the case is asked to contact the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff’s detectives executed a search warrant just after midnight Tuesday morning at a location on the 2200 block of Professional Parkway in Santa Maria. Kimberly Machleit, 35, and Donald Anderson, 37, were arrested.
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