It was an interesting year for Erath County. Political twists, wild weather and several high-profile crimes kept Stephenville and beyond in the headlines for much of the year.

Here is a look back at the top stories reported by the Empire-Tribune in 2013.


July 17 - The last Democrat in office in Erath County, County Treasurer Donna Kelly, switched parties. Kelly will run for re-election as a Republican.

July 18 - Kevin McCulley filed a lawsuit against the Stephenville Independent School District for alleged violations related to Title IX. McCulley claims his daughters and other female student-athletes are being treated unfairly by coaches and the school district.

July 25 - Eddie Routh, the man accused of shooting and killing Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield at a gun range at Rough Creek Lodge, was indicted by an Erath County grand jury.

Kyle was a former Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq. He was dedicated to helping veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, a condition Routh was reportedly struggling with. Routh is being held on a $3 million bond at Erath County Jail.


Aug. 1 - Morgan Mill ISD announced they would begin construction on a new field house near the district's football field. The estimated cost of the field house ($20,000) was donated by First Financial Bank and the scoreboard was donated by TexStar Ford and Bruner Motors.

Aug. 13 - Former Erath County Sheriff's Captain Terrell Dickerson pleaded guilty to official oppression in a sexual assault case involving another employee. Dickerson worked for the department for 16 years and was a captain when he was arrested. He was terminated following the arrest.

Aug. 28 - The Dublin School Board voted to approve a $6 million campus improvement plan to combine the junior high and high school campuses. Construction remains ongoing.


Sept. 4 - The manhunt for Danny Dittoe, a suspect wanted in connection with the brutal beating of Erath County resident Ricky Stephens, came to an end. Dittoe was arrested in Jasper County after US Marshals found him camping in the woods.

Sept. 13 - Tarleton State University announced a record-setting year. Tarleton continues to expand its campuses, especially in Stephenville where new facilities and dorms are being built to keep up with the growing student body.


Oct. 1 - Chris Gable, a founding member of Erath County Volunteer Fire Rescue, stepped down to take a position in College Station. Chris Brooks, who has served with the department for almost 10 years, took over as coordinator.

Oct. 1 - Stephenville City Council member Martha Taylor stepped down from Place 7 after moving outside the city limits. The Nominations Committee recommended the spot be kept vacant until the May election.


Nov. 6 - CVS pharmacy technician Crystal Reed was taken into custody for allegedly stealing more than 800 Hydrocodone tablets over a 10-month period. She was charged with diversion of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, and was held at the Erath County Jail on a $2,500 bond. She reportedly admitted to stealing the medication for her boyfriend.

Nov. 14 - Juan Reyes, 33, was arrested for confessing to shooting and killing Keith Wood. He is being held at the Erath County Jail on a $1 million bond for murder and a $50,000 for tampering with evidence. This was the first murder inside the Stephenville city limits since 2001.

Nov. 14 - A major drug raid led by the Drug Enforcement Agency ended with 32 arrests, 22 of those from Erath County. The individuals were charged with conspiracy to distribute in an alleged methamphetamine ring centered in Erath County. The complaint stated that multiple individuals were supplying drugs in several rural Texas counties including Erath, Parker, Palo Pinto, Comanche, Eastland, Stephens, Hood, Hamilton, Somervell and Taylor.


Dec. 5 - A major ice storm shut down much of North Texas including businesses and school districts. The weather forced SISD to cancel classes for three full days.

Dec. 29 - A man who barely survived a brutal beating in February was killed in a car accident. Ricky Stephens died after the pickup he was driving struck a tree in Vernon Parish, Louisiana. The trial against the suspects accused of nearly beating him to death is expected to take place in 2014.