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Polk County Enterprise - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company


Officials widen search for missing Chester teacher, son



LIVINGSTON — Detectives from the Polk County and Tyler County Sheriff’s Offices held a joint press conference in Livingston Tuesday issuing a public plea for help in finding Lettie Fisher and her son John Fisher Jr., who were last seen Sept. 19. The search effort began on Sept. 22 when John Hensarling, an employee with the Corps of Engineers at Dam B (also known as B.A. Steinhagen Lake) found their abandoned gray Toyota Four-Runner. John Fisher Sr. was flanked by family members and fellow church members at Tuesday’s event and joined in the plea for information about the whereabouts of his wife and son. Of all the possible scenarios for what happened to his family, Fisher said he believes someone abducted his wife and son as they scouted out potential fishing holes on Sept. 19. “If you have my family in captivity, please just set them free … put them out on the road and we will get them home,” Fisher said. Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammack said there is no indication that the pair were abducted and Tyler County’s Chief Investigator A.R. (Bud) Sturrock said no one should fear for their safety in the Chester community where the Fisher’s live. “I believe whatever happened to them, happened in Tyler County near Dam B,” Sturrock said. Sturrock and Polk County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Craig Finegan laid out a time line that law enforcement agencies have developed during the two-week investigation. Lettie Fisher, 79, and John Edward Fisher Jr., 32, left their home on Hwy. 287 in Polk County four miles from the Tyler County line and drove to Memorial Medical Center in Lufkin for an appointment where detectives observed the two on security video leaving the hospital at about 11 a.m. John Fisher Sr. told reporters his wife is a breast cancer survivor and the appointment was for an X-ray to ensure a port-acath device that had been implanted as part of her cancer treatment remained stable. Another witness reported seeing the Fishers’ vehicle traveling west on Hwy. 287 in Polk County around 12:30 p.m., which leads detectives to believe the pair went home where they changed clothes and loaded fishing equipment into the vehicle. The clothes the Fishers were wearing in the hospital security video were found at their home and some fishing tackle is missing. At about 1:25 p.m. a vehicle fitting the description of the Fishers’ was seen on security video from a convenience store at the intersection of U.S. 190 and Hwy. 92 traveling in the direction of Magnolia Ridge State Park where the vehicle was later found. An employee of Magnolia Ridge State Park called the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office the morning of Sept. 22 and reported the vehicle had been parked near the entrance since the previous Monday. TCSO deputies accessed vehicle information and determined it belonged to John Edward Fisher Sr., and deputies contacted him. During that meeting, Fisher Sr. told deputies that Lettie and John Jr. came to the area to fish the creeks. After an extensive threeday search of the area by TCSO, with the assistance of Texas Equusearch, nothing was found that indicated the Fishers had been in the area. No fishing equipment was found. Lt. Finegan said during the press conference that the Fisher vehicle was to be processed by technicians from the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab and it has remained sealed at the Polk County impound yard since it was towed from the park. Until technicians unseal the vehicle, detectives could not answer the question as to whether they may have had some sort of car trouble. Fisher Sr. said Lettie, a retired Chester schoolteacher, would never have stopped to assist someone on the side of the road. One witness statement indicated John Jr. was driving that morning. “He definitely wouldn’t stop for someone. He probably wouldn’t even stop for me,” Fisher Sr. said. “If someone stopped to talk to her, Lettie would speak to them, but she would never pick someone up.” The couple has been married for 40 years. The two sheriff’s departments and the Texas Rangers are expanding the search area to include other favorite fishing locations and south to Houston. Finegan said he will contact law enforcement officers in Kinder and Shreveport, La., two destinations where Miss Lettie enjoyed playing slot machines. “We are asking everyone to talk to her friends and their friends. If you have seen or heard anything that could help in this investigation, please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 936-327- 6810 or Tyler County at 409- 283-2172,” Finegan said. He specifically asked if anyone found unattended fishing equipment in the area around Dam B, to please contact investigators. “We’re certainly not here to prosecute someone picking up abandoned equipment in the woods. We’re just hoping for a positive outcome and saying our prayers for Lettie and John Jr.’s safe return,” Finegan said. “If you have a hunch about something, I’ll sit down and talk to you, or just call me.” Sturrock also cited the importance of sharing details, even if they seem trivial. “I’ve seen a case that a thimble made a difference,” Sturrock said. “So far this case is an ‘incident.’ It’s like they fell off the face of the earth. It’s very suspicious as to what has happened to them,” Sturrock said. Mr. Fisher doesn’t know,” he added. “I lay in bed at night and just pray and cry that they will be brought home,” Fisher said. “I can’t even go to church. Every Wednesday night, my son is sitting on one side of me, and my wife on the other. My friend here always counts attendance, but my son always leans over and tells me first, ‘Daddy, there’s 17 tonight’.” “I’ll never give up hope until something is found.”


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