The September Erath County grand jury returned eight felony indictments this week, including a first-degree murder charge against Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers.
Rogers, 60, is accused in the strangulation death of Dublin resident Traci Leigh Jones, whose body was found on June 22 inside a 50-gallon Craftsman tote box floating in a Kentucky lake near the state lines of Kentucky and Tennessee, according to information released by Erath County District Attorney Alan Nash.
It is believed that Jones’s body was placed in the container and then dumped in the state of Tennessee, then floated into Kentucky.
The E-T reported on July 6 that investigators learned Jones had initiated contact with attorney Heath Allen of Stephenville, "because she was having a dispute with 60-year-old Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers and his wife, Tammy, an Arlington ISD principal. According to investigators, that dispute led to the murder of Jones."
The E-T also reported from the D.A.’s news release that Allen believed that Jones had made contact with an NBC television affiliate in the Metroplex and the Arlington ISD about their relationship.
"It was Allen’s understanding that Jones was fearful of Rogers and his wife," the E-T reported from the D.A.’s news release.
Nash was asked about Rogers’ wife, Tammy, and responded that "no charges have been filed against her at this time."
After his arrest, Rogers had been held in the Tarrant County Jail, but Nash said Rogers was later transferred to the Erath County Jail. He is being held there on a $1 million bond on the murder charge.
Rogers also has a charge of "abuse of corpse" on the Erath County Jail inmate listing, but local officials indicated that is an out-of-state charge connected with the case.
Texas law states that a murder conviction (first-degree felony) carries a punishment range from five years up to 99 years or life in prison.
Nash noted that Erath County jury trials are still on hold because of the COVID-19 shutdown. He said the last jury trial held in Erath County was in February, before the shutdown in March.
"We’ve been able to hold most trials (with a judge only), except for jury trials," Nash said, adding that there still is no word about when local jury trials may be allowed to resume.
Erath County’s September felony indictments include:
— Jody Carranza, third degree felony, evading arrest or detention (with a vehicle).
— Steven Guy Ewing, third degree felony, driving while intoxicated (third or more), enhanced.
— Matthew Logan Ezzell, state jail felony, possession of a substance in Penalty Group 1 (less than one gram).
— Jacob Alan Hadden, state jail felony, possession of a substance in Penalty Group 1 (less than one gram).
— Justin Tyrone Kincheloe, state jail felony, unauthorized use of a vehicle.
— Joel Ernest Perez, state jail felony, possession of a substance in Penalty Group 1 (less than one gram), enhanced.
— Jeffrey Kenneth Rogers, first degree felony, murder.
—Eloy Ruiz-MOrantes, third degree felony, driving while intoxicated (third or more).