What’s Brewing: Early voting begins today in runoffs for mayor in Dallas and Fort Worth

Mike Rawlings, left, and David Kunkle, are in runoff for Dallas mayor.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Early voting begins today in runoffs for mayor in Dallas and Fort Worth. For a complete list of voting locations and times in Dallas, go here, and for Fort Worth, go here.

2. Lisa Stone’s friends held a vigil Sunday in Mesquite to mark one year since the gay Dallas woman vanished. Watch a report on the vigil from NBC 5 below.

3. Check out our photo slideshow from Razzle Dazzle Dallas.

View more videos at: http://nbcdfw.com.

—  John Wright

Vigil marks 1 year since Lisa Stone vanished

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone

Today marks the one year since the disappearance of gay Dallas woman Lisa Stone. Stone’s friend Tina Wiley writes on the Looking for Lisa Stone website:

Today is the memorial vigil marking the one year anniversary of Lisa’s disappearance. I am preparing my speech, but having a hard time focusing. I just feel numb…so many vigils, spanning all 4 seasons..one year…and still we are holding vigils and searching for answers…we are still Looking for Lisa.

How many prayers will we pray? How many tears will we shed? How many days still to search? How many times will we rally together and cry out for justice for Lisa? Sometimes I grow so weary. I never dreamed this would take so long … that justice would not be swift and fair. But, this is the reality … there are no sure answers … no known conclusions … no signs of Lisa. Justice for Lisa eludes us still today.

Today I am unsure of many things..but, one thing I am certain … that we will continue to pray … we will continue to cry … we will continue to search … and we will continue to rally together and cry out for justice! We began this mission a year ago … and we will see it through no matter how long it takes. Lisa deserves nothing less.

The vigil is from 2 to 4 p.m. at West Lake Park, at 421 Gross Road in Mesquite.

—  John Wright

WATCH: “48 Hours Mystery” on Lisa Stone case

In case you missed it, below is the full episode of 48 Hours Mystery about the Lisa Stone case that aired Saturday night. Stone’s friends, aka “The Facebook Detectives,” are also slated to appear on CBS’ The Early Show on Monday.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Country star Blake Shelton promotes anti-gay violence; more on Lisa Stone

Blake Shelton

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea.

1. CBS released another excerpt Wednesday night from Sherry Henry’s interview with 48 Hours Mystery, which will air an hourlong episode Saturday about the disappearance of Dallas lesbian Lisa Stone in June 2010. Henry is Stone’s former partner and the only person of interest in the case, and Stone’s friends believe Henry knows something about her disappearance. In the below story that aired on CBS 11 last night, Henry says: “You will not tear down my life. You will not point the finger at me, until you have verifiable proof that I have ever done anything other than support Lisa Stone in whatever she wanted to accomplish in her life. Lisa and I love each other. End of discussion!”

2. The Texas Senate passed a version of the budget Wednesday that would fund anticipated enrollment growth in the Texas HIV Medication Program, which provides lifesaving medication to low-income people with HIV/AIDS. The House’s version of the budget doesn’t fund any enrollment growth in the program, which is expected to amount to about 3,000 new clients over the next two years. It’s now up to a House-Senate conference committee to decide the level of funding for the program — and sort out the rest of the differences between the two budget bills. Overall, the Senate’s budget would spend $12 billion more in state and federal funds than the House’s version. The Senate approved its version of the budget in a 19-12 vote along party lines, after waving a rule that normally requires two-thirds support for bills to reach the floor. All 12 Democrats voted against the Senate budget, saying it cuts too deeply into education and social services. It was not immediately clear whether the Senate budget included an amendment from Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, that would require schools with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on centers for “family and traditional values.”

3. Blake Shelton, a country music star from Ada, Okla., and a judge on the NBC show The Voice, sent out the above tweet last night which appears to promote anti-gay violence. The tweet follows a homophobic comment Shelton made last month at the ACM Awards, when he suggested that Jake Gyllenhaal broke up with Taylor Swift because he’s gay.

—  John Wright

Nearly 1 year after lesbian Lisa Stone vanished, case to be featured on CBS’ “48 Hours Mystery”

Sherry Henry

Thursday will mark 11 months since Dallas lesbian Lisa Stone’s unsolved disappearance. On Saturday at 9 p.m. Central time, CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery will air an hourlong episode about the case.

The 48 Hours episode, called “The Facebook Detectives,” will focus on Stone’s friends use of the social media site to keep the search for her alive. Watch a promo for the episode below.

The episode also includes an interview with Stone’s former partner, Sherry Henry, who is the only “person of interest” in her disappearance. Dallas police have long believed the then-52-year-old Stone met with foul play, but say they don’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Sgt. Eugene Reyes, of DPD’s special investigations unit, told Instant Tea today that he was surprised to hear about Henry’s interview with 48 Hours, given that she hasn’t been talking to other media or cooperating with police.

“We have nothing new, and some of the DNA tests that we were waiting for just didn’t pan out, so we’re back to square one with only one person of interest,” Reyes said. “Everything’s circumstantial. There are plenty of pointed fingers, but it’s not going to be enough to get a conviction. … Some of these cases go on forever and ever.”

Reyes said he hopes the 48 Hours episode leads to a break in the case, but he isn’t counting on it. The show’s producers have told him not to expect any major revelations, and he noted that a billboard advertising a $10,000 reward for information about Stone’s disappearance generated zero tips.

But Stone’s friends remain optimistic.

“We will find answers and justice for Lisa soon!” Tina Wiley declared on her Facebook page today, after announcing that she’s canceled her birthday plans so she can fly to New York this weekend.

Wiley said after the 48 Hours broadcast, she’ll appear on CBS’ Early Show this coming Monday. But first, Wiley will appear on the the Channel 11 News, at 10 o’clock tonight.

—  John Wright

Vigil to mark 6 months since Lisa Stone vanished

The first vigil, outside Stone’s home in July.

Last week we reported that Dallas police say they have “nothing to go on” in the disappearance of 52-year-old Lisa Stone, a lesbian from Dallas who’s believed to have met with foul play.

Over the weekend one of Stone’s longtime friends, Tina Wiley, sent along word that a vigil will be held this coming Friday, Dec. 10 to mark six months since Stone vanished.

“The first vigil was held in the heat of summer on July 4,” Wiley said. “With heavy hearts over our missing friend and the long wait for justice, we are now holding a Christmas prayer vigil for Lisa. Please join us in a show of support for our fellow classmate and beloved friend.”

The vigil will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday outside the home Stone shared with her partner, in the 3300 Block of Truxillo Drive in Dallas.

For more info, visit the Facebook page.

—  John Wright

Gay murder victim Richard Hernandez’s friend to launch website documenting ‘delay of justice’

Victim Richard Hernandez, left, and suspect Seth Lawton Winder

While we’re on the subject of local gay murder victims whose friends want to see justice, we thought we’d let you know about a note we received this morning from one Rudy Araiza.

Araiza was close friends with Richard Hernandez, who was murdered and dismembered at his apartment in Far North Dallas more than two years ago, in September 2008. Seth Lawton Winder is charged with first-degree murder in Hernandez’s slaying and is awaiting a trial that’s been postponed several times. According to the Denton County District Attorney’s Office, Winder’s case is now set for trial in late January.

We aren’t sure whether Araiza, Hernandez’s friend, was inspired by the actions of Lisa Stone’s friends, but he wrote to inquire about obtaining copies of Dallas Voice articles on the murder, because he’s interested in launching a website. Here’s part of what he said:

“I want to start a Richard Hernandez Justice website to keep journals and updates on his delay of Justice! As we leave 2010 and into 2011, we are still in suspense mode waiting to hear, or see ‘Justice’ happen here from delay after delay of Seth Winder. I had a dream the other night, and in my dream Richard was there, in a place where Happiness and Life were the heavens. I was extremely angry with him and told him that he left a lot of people with heavy hearts, he said that everything was going to be okay, and that he was watching over us. It was a typical answer that only Richard would have said to me, which let me know that he was happy and right! It sounds crazy, but I woke up knowing and feeling good inside knowing that Richard for a mere 5 minutes was having a conversation with me. My heart believes that he knows what’s going on, and  he knows Justice will come soon.”

—  John Wright

DPD investigator denies rumors that arrests are ‘imminent’ in gay Dallas woman’s disappearance

Lisa Stone
Lisa Stone

On Tuesday afternoon we reported that Lisa Stone’s friends believe arrests may be “imminent” in the six-month-old disappearance of the 52-year-old gay Dallas woman.

But Sgt. Eugene Reyes of the Dallas Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit told Instant Tea this morning that those rumors are simply untrue.

“I have no idea who we would be arresting and what we would be arresting them for,” Reyes said. “You blindsided me.”

Reyes said he had no new information about DPD’s investigation into Stone’s disappearance. He’s said previously that investigators believe foul play is “very likely.”

Reyes acknowledged that DPD recently contacted America’s Most Wanted, which posted a story about Stone’s disappearance on its website last week. Asked whether this indicates that authorities are desperate, Reyes said: “We’ve been desperate since day one. As soon as [Stone's longtime partner] Sherry [Henry] quit talking, what else is there? We have nothing to go on. It’s another way to generate publicity, keep it out there.”

Reyes added that the America’s Most Wanted story hasn’t generated any tips in the week since it was posted. He said investigators continue to believe that even if Henry wasn’t somehow involved in Stone’s disappearance, she knows something about it.

“Either Sherry is not telling anyone or if she did they’re not sharing that information,” Reyes said.

—  John Wright

Nearly 6 months after gay Dallas woman Lisa Stone vanished, some national media attention

Dec. 5 will mark six months since the disappearance of Lisa Stone, a 52-year-old gay woman from northeast Dallas. But Stone’s friends remain optimistic that the case will soon be solved, and their hopes have been buoyed this week by some national media attention.

America’s Most Wanted posted a story about Stone’s disappearance on its website Monday, and her friends plan to meet with producers from CBS’ 48 Hours on Wednesday.

“We have worked for five months to get this kind of national exposure,” said Tina Wiley, one of Stone’s friends who’s been leading the effort to find her. “We need this to get answers.”

Wiley said Stone’s friends are also hearing rumors that arrests in the case may be imminent. A Dallas police investigator who’s handling the case couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Wiley said nothing is planned to mark the six-month anniversary of Stone’s disappearance. However, the group known as the Sisters of ’77 — Stone’s friends who graduated from Mesquite High School in 1977 — plans another reunion on Dec. 11. It was during the first-ever reunion of the Sisters of ’77 in May 2009, WIley said, when Stone came out to many of her former classmates.

“It was a huge deal to her, so I think it’s going to be a really emotional party,” Wiley said. “She was real hesitant at first about going even. She was so worried about what everyone would think, but she was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t an issue to anybody.”

—  John Wright

Friends talk about search for missing lesbian Lisa Stone

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—  John Wright