• Bria Lockett was shot and killed in Hitchcock on Jan. 6.

• Tony Braxton was shot and killed in La Marque on Aug. 22.

• Teresa Lynn Vanegas was strangled to death in Dickinson on Nov. 3, 2006.

• Cheryl Martin was found strangled to death in a drainage ditch in League City on Nov. 3, 1989.

• Royal Taylor Jr. was shot and killed in Santa Fe on May 29, 1983.

These homicides were all committed in Galveston County and remain unsolved. In some cases, years have gone by since they were brutally taken away, but their parents, families and friends haven’t forgotten — and neither should you.

Somebody who lives here in Galveston County knows what happened. I truly believe there are individuals out there with information that could help solve these and other violent crimes. As residents of Galveston County, we need to speak up.

Violent crime impacts us all. We must do a better job of defining what’s acceptable conduct. Galveston County law enforcement files contain details of various types of violent crime dating back several decades.

Unfortunately, it seems as though certain violent behaviors have become normalized. Shooting a rifle at an apartment, house or car should never be condoned, but that’s exactly what we’re doing through our silence.

The “code of silence” has a stranglehold on segments of our community. As a community, we need to do a better job of controlling the narrative. Citizens who cooperate with law enforcement are viewed as snitches. “Stop snitching” fosters a distrust of police and allows the criminal element to operate with impunity.

In the meantime, crime increases, and families grieve with no relief in sight. Individuals who engage in violent criminal activity will likely continue to do so in the absence of some sort of intervention through our criminal justice system. Thinking, “I’m not getting involved” or “it’s none of my business” isn’t acceptable.

Galveston County, we’ve got to take a stand.

Reluctant witnesses are impacting our ability to maintain public safety. Some people list fear or personal safety as a reason for not coming forward with information. Crime Stoppers provides an opportunity to forward information anonymously. Through Crime Stoppers, individuals can make an anonymous call, give a tip and possibly receive a reward. I strongly encourage community members to contact Crime Stoppers and pass on information about crime in Galveston County.

Whether you witness a crime or hear information regarding criminal activity, it’s imperative that you share that information with the proper authorities. Let law enforcement determine if the information is relevant or pertinent to an investigation. Homicide investigators are very good at what they do— but they need information to solve crimes.

What if you know something that could help solve a murder? You might think the tip you have is something small, but your tip could help. Don’t stay silent. Speak up.

Speak up for Bria, Cheryl, Teresa, Tony and Royal. Speak up for all who’ve been taken too soon.

Wilmon C. Smith is chief of police in the city of Hitchcock.



(4) comments

Bailey Jones


Norman Pappous


Jose' Boix

In agreement, but how do we know that the various implemented programs to curb local crimes are being effective - or not? It is great to read about the various approaches, but we seldom if ever know how effective they are or continue to be. It would be great to see measurable targets and updates on progress. Just my thoughts.

Michelle Aycoth

If you have eyes everywhere the crimes may not go away but will definitely slow if they know they will be caught, charged and locked away.

Andy Aycoth

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