The 37-year-old hotel clerk killed in December was shot after arguing with a man wearing a Santa Claus beard who stole about $240 during in an armed robbery, according to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday.

Police arrested Mark Anthony Tobar, 37, about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at a laundromat in the 9300 block of Cullen Boulevard in Houston after a months-long investigation in the shooting, said Cpl. Allen Bjerke, spokesman for the Texas City Police Department.

Tobar, of Houston, is charged with capital murder and was in the Galveston County jail without bond, jail records show.

At the same time investigators on Tuesday announced Tobar’s arrest, they also said they were still searching for two other men in connection with the killing, although police declined to name them.

Tobar, in concert with several others, borrowed his mother’s pickup truck and drove from Houston to Texas City in December to commit the robbery, according to his affidavit.

Teresa Lynn Custer, 37, died a day after she was shot while working at the Fairfield Inn at 10700 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City.

Security cameras showed a man entering the hotel that day wearing a Santa Claus beard, dark pants and a white shirt with red writing, boots and a hat, according to the affidavit.

That man confronted Custer and reached into her purse, which upset her and made her pull it away from him, according to the affidavit.

The man then tried to grab her purse again and a scuffle ensued, during which she grabbed the beard off of him, according to the affidavit. He then pointed the pistol at her head and shot her.

A kitchen worker told investigators she heard the argument and went to see what was happening before the masked man ordered her away, according to the affidavit. The woman then heard the gunshots and ran over to Custer and attempted to stop the bleeding.

Investigators viewed security video from a hotel across the street and noticed a 2011 Chevrolet pickup truck driving through the parking lot and then saw a man matching the description of the masked man in the Fairfield Inn video, according to the affidavit.

The license plates on the pickup truck showed a lien holder returned to a Pasadena auto shop, according to the affidavit. A salesman there told investigators the cars had GPS and they eventually tracked it to Houston.

Tobar’s mother owned the vehicle and she told investigators her son and two nephews had the car, but they didn’t know anyone in Texas City and so she thought someone else must have taken it, according to the affidavit.

In subsequent interviews, Tobar’s mother gave conflicting information about whether she had spoken to her son after the night of the killing and what she knew, according to the affidavit.

An apartment manager at Tobar’s mother’s apartment complex told police in an interview that the mother told her Tobar had driven the car and two other men committed the robbery and shot Custer, according to the affidavit.

Investigators reviewed security video from another gas station and saw Tobar getting out of the the pickup truck the same day as the shooting with an unidentified black man, according to the affidavit.

Investigators are offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of the two men still at large, Bjerke said.

Tobar does not appear to have a criminal record in Galveston County, but a search of the Harris County court records shows a man with the same name and date of birth convicted in several different cases, including possession of a controlled substance and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

Harris County officials in February issued a warrant for Tobar’s arrest, court records show.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com.



(1) comment

Doug Sivyer

I hope they catch these despicable pieces of S _ _ _ _ and execute them promptly. No need to waste the tax payers money with trial and lengthily incarceration and useless appeals . They don't deserve to live.

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