By Clint Foster and Libby Cluett
A preliminary autopsy report on Shannon Sheri Herrin, 38, indicates “no evident signs of trauma,” according to Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan.
“In looking at information from the crime scene and articles gathered under a search warrant, it does not appear there was any foul play,” he said, adding, “But, the investigation is ongoing.”
In a search warrant obtained by the Index, Herrin’s 20-year-old son said he went into the house to get food and found his mother in a “chest style deep freezer in the garage” of the home in the 1400 block of S.E. 19th Street.
He called the Mineral Wells Police Department around 6:30 p.m. and officers went to Herrin’s residence in southeast Mineral Wells.
Sullivan said police who were dispatched to the call confirmed the report and proceeded to secure the house and separated witnesses.
Meanwhile, he said “detectives prepared and secured a search warrant to give us the legal authority to go in and search.”
When the Index went to the home around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, the house was taped off and police were posted at all corners of the yard. Also assisting MWPD on the scene were members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Ranger Tony Bradford and District Attorney Mike Burns. Sullivan said Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bobby Hart later pronounced Herrin deceased.
At the request of a MWPD criminal investigator, 29th Judicial District Court Judge Mike Moore issued the search warrant, allowing investigators to examine the property, collect evidence and seize Herrin’s body.
Sullivan said Bradford and MWPD detectives conducted a crime-scene process and transferred Herrin’s body to Dallas for autopsy.
The warrant stated that Cecil Ray Huddleston – her husband as of April 2011, according to the Palo Pinto County District Clerk – was the last person to see Herrin and is, therefore, a “person of interest at this time.”
“I believe that Shannon Sheri Herrin died under suspicious circumstances that require further investigation,” the criminal investigator said within the text of the search warrant.
On Friday morning, MWPD arrested Huddleston, 49, on a blue warrant – violation of parole – and booked him into Palo Pinto County Jail.
MWPD Chief Dean Sullivan said Friday’s arrest was unrelated to the discovery of his wife’s body. Huddleston’s arrest history obtained by the Index showed a number of previous arrests, many on charges of possession of a controlled substance. Additionally, district court documents show he was convicted in 2005 of a first-degree felony for possession of methamphetamine, over 400 grams, and sentenced to 23 years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The search warrant also provided the following information:
• On Wednesday night, Herrin, Huddleston, a young man who stays with them occasionally and Herrin’s son were at the home. The son said he left around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, and said his mother was well.
• According to Huddleston, Herrin was alive and well when he left for work around 6 a.m. Thursday and he said the young man who stays with them was asleep on the couch.
• When the MWPD responded and entered the house, one officer said the garage was in disarray with items strewn across the floor. Herrin’s son said this was unusual because the garage also served as Huddleston’s workshop, which he kept quite neat.
• MWPD found Herrin lying on her back in the freezer, missing one boot. She had not been moved nor did she have any obvious signs of injury, according to the warrant.
• The officer also added that Herrin’s supervisor at work received a text message from Herrin that morning saying that she did not feel well and would not come to work. Herrin reportedly did not use text messaging very frequently.
Police say the investigation is ongoing.