A Smith County neighborhood was in shock Monday as one of its residents was found dead in his home, with his son arrested in the death.
“I just can’t believe it. When I learned what happened, I was sick to my stomach,” 68-year-old Catherine Brown said as she stood on her porch in the 3700 block of Jackson Avenue Monday afternoon.
It marked the year’s third homicide for Smith County.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said his deputies received a 911 call about 1:48 a.m. regarding an unresponsive man in a home next door to Mrs. Brown in the Jackson Heights community on the county’s eastern side.
Smith said deputies found 56-year-old R. L. Britton dead in the laundry room of the residence and ruled the death a homicide. They arrested the man’s son, Randall Britton, 28, on a warrant signed by State District Judge Christi Kennedy.
The younger Britton on Monday was being held on a $150,000 bond in the Smith County Jail, where records show he was jailed twice earlier this year for driving while intoxicated and assault causing bodily injury on a family member.
Mrs. Brown said, “You never think something like this will ever happen, but R.L. looked out for me and was always watching my house when I was gone to church or the store.”
She said that over the past several days, the younger Britton looked at her oddly as she went to and from her home.
“Yesterday he was just staring at me real weird like,” she said. “My son told me he looked at him the same way.”
Up and down the street, neighbors said the slaying shocked them.
“I can tell you this, we lost a good neighbor today, and that really upsets me,” Mrs. Brown said.
The county’s first killing of the year was the shooting death of 30-year-old Jennifer Mata by her husband, Adrian, who remained jailed Monday on bonds totaling $1.5 million.
In the second homicide, Russell Lindstrom was charged in the death of his 4-year-old daughter due to being in a hot car.
Tyler police said there have been no homicides in the city to date.