LPD invites TX Rangers to double check 2003 death case - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/20/10

LPD invites TX Rangers to double check 2003 death case

Debbie Bartholomew (left) after winning a 2008 civil case Debbie Bartholomew (left) after winning a 2008 civil case

By James Clark | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock police have invited Texas Rangers to double check their work on an investigation.  According to an email last week from police Captain James Shavers to the Rangers, Esther Riley died in 2003 at Covenant Hospital under "unusual circumstances."  Riley's daughter Debbie Bartholomew requested a criminal case at the time, and police declined to pursue a criminal investigation.  Bartholomew complained that police should have done more.  An internal review last year found officers had acted properly.

The email to Texas Rangers says, "Ms. Bartholomew has asked if we would allow the Texas Rangers to look into her case. The investigation division of the LPD yields to the Rangers."

But while police officers were cleared of wrongdoing in 2009, White Funeral Home was not.  In August of 2008 a jury awarded Riley's family $729,000 in a civil lawsuit. One of the questions raised in the lawsuit was whether or not White Funeral Home buried the right body.  The question was never resolved because the body was exhumed before trial for a DNA test, but the tissue sample was lost.

Bartholomew has records that raise serious questions concerning the death of her mother.  For example her mother's body is listed as being in the hospital morgue before the day of her death.

As for any Texas Rangers investigation, Bartholomew says she had not heard from them yet.  Even weeks before Shavers' email, Texas Rangers have been in short supply in the Lubbock area.  Local law enforcement from Lubbock, Muleshoe, Hale County, and Terry County had all mentioned to KCBD NewsChannel 11 that the Rangers had been stretched thin.

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