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Trinity Standard - Local News

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Couple indicted on sexual assault of a child charges
Trinity Standard -

GROVETON – A Groveton couple was taken into custody Tuesday morning after being indicted Friday on a number of sexual assault charges involving a child. Jeffie Davis Melder and his wife Shelly Rene Melder were arrested by Groveton Police Chief John Raiford and Trinity County Deputy Shane Sandifer on the felony charges. Jeffie Melder was indicted on first-degree felony charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child and sexual performance by a child and the third-degree felony complaint of indecency with a child. Shelly Melder was indicted on the first-degree felony charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child and the third-degree felony charge of indecency with a child, According to Raiford, both were taken into custody without incident and were booked into the Trinity County Jail. Raiford, who took over as the Groveton police chief on Monday, said the victim was an eight-year-old boy. Groveton police opened an investigation into the case on Oct. 5 after being contacted by Child Protective Services (CPS). The matter was then presented to a Trinity County grand jury on Friday. Also indicted Friday was a Chita woman accused of starting five fires while a major wildfire was being battled in the Chita area. Tommie Jean Ragsdale, 46, was indicted on five state jail felony counts of arson stemming from the Sept. 18 incidents. She is accused of starting three fires near her Ward Lane residence by igniting pine straw with a cigarette lighter and two fires off FM 355 by igniting paper with the lighter. The incidents occurred while firemen from Trinity and Polk counties were battling what was called the Truck Flip Fire, which destroyed almost 1,000 acres of timberland in the area. That fire was caused when a log truck turned over on FM 355, claiming the life of its driver. The five fires Ragsdale are alleged to have started were all located and quickly extinguished by firemen working in the area before the could get out of control. Ragsdale was arrested on Sept 19 by Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace after witnesses were found who spotted her vehicle near where one of the FM 355 fires. When confronted with the information, Ragsdale gave officers a statement about her involvement with the fires and she was taken into custody. She remains in custody and was being held in the Houston County Jail in Crockett. Other indictments returned by the grand jury included: • Gwendolyn Knappenberger, charged with felony driving while intoxicated in connection with her arrest on May 28. According to the indictment, she was convicted in 1994 and 1997 in Angelina County on charges of drunk driving. • Dylan Cole Cleveland, charged with burglary of a building in connection with a Sept. 10 incident involving a break-in and theft of cigarettes owned by Susan Archer. • Sean Thomas Sims, charged with burglary of a habitation in connection with the July 25 break-in of the Patricia Pool residence. • Charles Amburn, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is accused of striking Marie Vogt and threatening her with a knife on Aug. 27. • Maurice Charles Spell, charged with theft in connection with a July 22 incident involving a guitar and video games owned by Christopher Bell.


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