A Canadian woman is in custody at Hemphill County jail this morning, charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest and child endangerment, after attempting to break into the home of Jimmy and Mary Lynne Schafer Friday afternoon.
Mary Lynne was alone around 3:30 pm Friday when she heard a loud noise at the back of the house. Upon investigation, she found a woman with a young child, banging on her back door, attempting to get inside.
Thinking the woman and child were in trouble, Schafer started to unlock the glass door, but stopped when she saw the look in the woman’s eyes. Instead, she locked both doors and quickly called the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office to request assistance.
When Sheriff James Pearson and Deputy Jeremy Dunn arrived at the Schafer home at 315 Washita, they found a woman later identified as 32-year-old Cristina Ruiz with her approximately 3-year-old son. “She was in the back yard, causing a disturbance, and clearly highly intoxicated,” said Sheriff Pearson.
“She was incoherent and couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me her name. She was flailing around and swinging at us, screaming obscenities and talking nonsense.”
With Dunn’s assistance, Pearson was able to handcuff the woman, at which point the deputy began to comfort and reassure the child.
By that time, Lynn Fulcher, who had arrived to mow the Schafer’s lawn, went inside the house to take care of Mary Lynne, whose daughter, Janae—alerted to the situation by a friend who was listening to the scanner—arrived soon after.
“They had managed to get her to the front yard and handcuff her,” Janae said, “but they couldn’t even control her handcuffed. She was kicking [them] and screaming. The deputy handed me the little boy, and it took two of them to get her restrained and loaded.”
“Deputy Dunn was so good with that little boy,” she said. “I was impressed.”
Ruiz was taken to Hemphill County Jail and charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest and child endangerment by negligence, Sheriff Pearson reported. With the assistance of Deputy DeHerrera and jailer/dispatchers Becky Kells and Jeremy Oatman, he said, they managed to restrain the still-hysterical Ruiz, book her and place her in the detox cell, where she remained this morning.
“Working together, we were able to identify her and take care of her,” Pearson said. “She is safe.”
Janae accompanied the child to the law enforcement center, and commented again on Deputy Dunn’s handling of the situation. “He picked him up, patting him on the back, and the boy started calming down,” she said. “He put his seat belt on and gave him a stuffed animal. He was so good to him.”
After arriving at the Sheriff’s Office, Pearson said, Dunn called in his wife. The two of them continued to comfort the child, gave him snacks and water, asked his name, read a book to him and played an impromptu game of hide and sneak.
“With the temperature in the low- to mid-90s, we were worried,” Pearson said. “We didn’t know how long they had been out walking around.”
“He was a good kid,” the sheriff added. “We had no trouble with him at all.”
A Child Protective Services (CPS) representative was called in and contacted the family. Contacted early Saturday morning, Pearson said he believed CPS had made arrangements with Ruiz’ family to take care of the child.
“The bottom line,” Pearson said, “is that the little boy is okay and the mom is okay.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: We are publishing this report online in an attempt to counteract rumors circulating that no law enforcement officers are currently on duty in Hemphill County. When contacted Thursday morning, Sheriff Pearson flatly denied the rumors, saying they were simply not true. “I am on duty. Five of my deputies are on duty. The county is covered,” Pearson said.
The rumors were apparently preceded by the news, reported in The Record on September 1, that Sheriff James Pearson—who was defeated by Nathan Lewis in the Republican primary run-off—would serve his final day in office here on Thursday, September 15.
Although Pearson was expected to remain in office until after the November 8 election, he told The Record two weeks ago that he had submitted his resignation effective September 15. He explained that his decision was precipitated by the resignation of most of his deputies. Sheriff Pearson made it clear, however, that he and six of his deputies would remain on duty through September 15, and that the community would remain fully protected.
Pearson attributed his decision to resign early to the fact that several of his officers had found jobs elsewhere and had notified him that they would no longer be working after the 15th. At that point, he said, the office would be too short on staff to adequately fulfill the duties of his office. His decision to retire on that date was based on his concern for what was fair to the residents of Hemphill County.
Judge George Briant confirmed the receipt of Pearson’s letter of resignation, and said county commissioners would accept that resignation during their September 12 meeting. “We will appoint somebody to take office at 12:01 am on the 16th,” he said. “It will likely be Nathan.”
The Record has contacted Lewis, and will publish a complete report of his plans for the Sheriff’s Office and its staffing in next week’s edition. —LEB