UPDATE: Palestine neighborhood on full alert following homicide

Published on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 19:40 - Written by KENNETH DEAN kdean@tylerpaper.com

A neighborhood is on full alert after a longtime resident was found dead in his home by police, who say the death is the result of a homicide.

Max Tubb, 72, said the death of 81-year-old John Ferles, his neighbor for the past 20 years in the 100 block of Longhorn Drive, was upsetting and alarming for the quiet neighborhood nestled between Loop 256 and a heavily wooded area chock full of feral hogs, which are tearing up the neighboorhood's yards.

Looking next door at the ranch type home, Tubb said, "I'm going to miss him. You can't know someone that long and not miss them."

Tubb said Ferles had not been the same since his wife died several years earlier.

"He kind of just kept to himself. He would go on trips, but he stayed inside his home for the most part," he said.

Inside the home, Mike Fehrle, the victim's stepson, tried to inventory the man's possessions to determine if anything was missing.

"The safe was open, silver coins and money from the safe are missing and so is some of my mother's jewelry," he said.

The home gave clues that Ferles spent most of his time in the living room and master bedroom areas of the house and were cluttered, while other areas of the home were pristine.

In the master bedroom, where Ferles was found, telltale signs of a homicide marked the room. Blood splatters on a wall had been marked by law enforcement and a mattress showed the man had been in his bed when he met with foul play.

Palestine Police Lt. James Muniz said his department was asked to do a welfare check on Ferles Monday night after he had not been seen or heard from in about a week.

Muniz said when officers arrived they talked to neighbors and found the back door of the home open and the man's vehicle gone.

"They made entry and found the victim in the back bedroom deceased. They then called detectives and investigators with our office and with the Texas Rangers were dispatched to begin working the case," he said.

Muniz said the man's 2004 Chevrolet Impala has since been found about an hour south of Palestine. 

"We will have a detective at the autopsy tomorrow in Tyler and then we will send him down to the storage facility where the vehicle is being held on Thursday. We hope we can gather some evidence from the vehicle," he said.

Muniz said at this time there are no known suspects in the case.

Muniz said Ferles' death marked the city's first homicide of 2013 and the neighborhood was typically quiet and not known for violent crime.

"We have an occasional auto burglary in that area, but that's about it as far as crime goes," he said.

Elaine Hogue, who lives in the area, said she called police last month when someone attempted to break into her home. 

"I've seen this man in the area a couple of times and I have told police and the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, but the person was always gone by the time they got into the area," she said.

Muniz said his department will check on any cases in the area to determine if there was a connection to Ferles' death.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call the Palestine Police Department of the Anderson County Crime Stoppers at 903-729-8477.