By CLINT FOSTER
PALO PINTO – Five months after Shannon Sheri Herrin, 38, was found dead inside a freezer at her Mineral Wells home, a Palo Pinto County Grand Jury indicted Cecil Ray Huddleston, Jan. 22, for allegedly providing the methamphetamine that ultimately led to his wife’s death.
Mineral Wells police arrested Huddleston, 49, Friday afternoon – along with Henry Bohanan, 35, who was wanted for a blue warrant – at Huddleston’s home in the 1400 block of SE 19th Street for a capias warrant for manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance causing death or serious bodily injury. Huddleston was booked into the Mineral Wells City Jail at 2:46 p.m. before later being transported to County Jail in Palo Pinto.
Herrin’s 20-year-old son discovered his mother’s body inside a large, chest-style freezer in her garage on Aug. 8 while he was looking for something to eat that evening. He called MWPD around 6:30 p.m.
“My mother’s dead,” he told the 9-1-1 operator, clearly upset. “I opened the freezer and she’s in there.”
Police found Herrin lying on her back and missing one boot with evidence indicating she had climbed into the freezer under her own power. A preliminary autopsy report showed “no evident signs of trauma” or any “foul play.”
In October, the Index reported the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office had determined that Herrin had methamphetamine in her system when she died. According to the medical examiner’s findings, Herrin’s death was caused by “toxic effects of methamphetamine” with “hypothermia” as a contributing factor. The ME also found a fresh needle mark in Herrin’s arm, suggesting she indeed took the methamphetamine earlier that day. Additional substances recorded in the test results included marijuana, hydrocodone and a perscription anti-anxiety medication.
Although the ME maintained that Herrin’s death was accidental, District Attorney Mike Burns said the unusual circumstances behind her death led to further investigation spearheaded by Texas Ranger Tony Bradford and the City County Narcotics Unit.
“The initial investigation left unanswered questions as to exactly what had occurred that would cause an otherwise normal woman to get into a deep freezer and die,” Burns said. “So once we received the autopsy report and determined that the cause of death was, in fact, methamphetamine toxicity, it prompted us to look further and to investigate further as to the source of the methamphetamine.”
Burns said the investigation found significant evidence suggesting that Huddleston not only procured the methamphetamine, but also that Herrin’s husband assisted her in injecting the drug.
“We have evidence that he loaded the syringe and handed it to her and she injected it,” Burns said.
Because Huddleston is a habitual offender, Burns said prosecutors plan to file a notice of enhancement on his third-degree-felony offense.
If convicted, Huddleston could serve between 25 years to life in prison.
“Perhaps people who provide drugs to other people will think twice,” Burns said.