Ellis County murder victim identified; arrest made

Sketch of murder victim

Lt. Rick White of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department said the body of a woman found shot has been identified — and she was not a member of the LGBT community. An arrest has been made in the case.

After the body was found, several clues led investigators to ask the LGBT community for help in identifying the woman. No missing persons report from the area matched the body.

White said that the woman has been identified as 19-year-old Sonya Ballinger of Irving. Thaddeus Terrence Quinn, 38, was arrested on suspicion of murder, after being picked up on a warrant for another offense.

White said Ballinger had been living with her mother until June and had been staying with her boyfriend in Irving.

White said her boyfriend wanted to report her missing on July 17, the day investigators think she was killed. Ballinger’s mother decided not to report her daughter missing, however, because she apparently had disappeared for periods of time in the past.

Quinn’s body was found on July 23 in a wooded area between Waxahachie and Midlothian about 6 miles south of the Dallas County line.

—  David Taffet

Ellis County Sheriff asking for help identifying dead woman

Ellis County Sheriff investigator Joe Fitzgerald is asking the LGBT community in Dallas for help in identifying a body found in a heavily wooded area in the county.

She is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing about 115 pounds. She is believed to be of African-American heritage. She was wearing a black or dark gray tank top, blue jean shorts and white Nike tennis shoes with purple shoe laces.

Fitzgerald said information connected her to Dallas and Irving and possibly to the LGBT community.

Trauma indicates the murder did not occur there.

“Someone killed her and threw her to the side of the road,” he said.

Investigators believe she disappeared on July 17. She made some purchases in Irving on that day. The body was found on July 23 and she may have been dead for five days and was badly decomposed. The sheriff’s office released a sketch of what she may have looked like when alive (above) and pictures of tattoos and identifying marks (below).

What bothers investigators is that there have been no reports of a missing person matching the description of the woman found. Anyone with information about her identity should contact Joe Fitzgerald in the Ellis County Sheriff’s office at 972-825-4928.

—  David Taffet

Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Dead birds and DADT repeal; gay shooting hero Daniel Hernandez; Chely Wright

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Whacko preacher Cindy Jacobs, founder of Red Oak-based Generals International, says the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” may be to blame for the recent bird and fish deaths in Arkansas. Others, however, have suggested that Jacobs’ wardrobe is the real culprit. In case you didn’t know, Red Oak is a little town in Ellis County, about a half hour south of Dallas on I-35. Here’s what Jacobs says in the video above: “Well, there’s something interesting we have been watching — let’s talk about this Arkansas pattern and say, could it be a pattern? We’re going to watch and see. But the blackbirds fell to the ground in Beebe, Arkansas. Well the Governor of Arkansas’ name is Beebe. And also, there was something put out of Arkansas called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by a former Governor, this was proposed, Bill Clinton. As so, could there be a connection between this passage [Hosea 4] and now that we’ve had the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, where people now legally in the United States have broken restraints with the Scripture because the Scripture says in Romans 1 that homosexuality is not allowed. It could be because we have said it’s okay for people who commit these kinds of acts to be recognized in our military for the first time in our history, there is a potential that there is something that actually happened in the land where a hundred thousand drum fish died and also where these birds just fell out of the air.”

2. The Los Angeles Times draws a comparison between Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay intern who may have saved the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — and Oliver Sipple, a gay Marine who thwarted an assassination attempt against President Gerald in 1975. It’s sure nice to know that Instant Tea, which broke the story about Hernandez being gay, probably won’t be getting sued like the newspapers that revealed Sipple was gay. And the column is an excellent illustration of how what it means to be gay has changed so dramatically over the last 35 years. …

3. … But we’ve still got a ways to go. Country singer Chely Wright, who appeared at this year’s Black Tie Dinner in Dallas, says the perception that coming out has helped her career is flat out wrong. “My record sales went directly in half,” Wright says in a new interview with Autostraddle.com, adding that she’s also received death threats.

—  John Wright