Killeen is no stranger to tragedy: the town is adjacent to Fort Hood, which two weeks ago was the site of the shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 30 wounded, and in which Major Nidal Hasan remains the only suspect. Only yesterday police issued reports of inter-species violence on Alamo Street. And late Thursday brought news of another violent crime- of a lower profile than some others perhaps, but no less tragic for those whose lives are now caught up in it.
16 year old James Johnson III lived on the 3600 block of Palm Tree drive until last Wednesday, November 11th. When his mother left the family home briefly at 7:30pm he was sleeping; when she returned an hour later he had vanished. James' cell phone was silent, and none of his friends reported having seen him. Local media reported the boy as missing.
James is not missing any more. Police found his lifeless body at 2:15am Thursday morning, lying on farm road 1237 just outside Temple. Bell County Detectives were quick to respond: in less than 24 hours three teenage boys were in custody on suspicion of murdering Johnson.
Victor Villarreal Jr., 17, lives on post at Fort Hood. Paul Andrew Cantu, also 17, is from Waco, north of Killeen. A 16 year old boy was also arrested but as a minor his name cannot be released. The minor is being held in Bell County Juvemile Centre, while his fellow suspects have been remanded to Bell County Jail. Bail has been set at $1 million. The police have released no information as to the condition of the body, the cause of death or the suspected motivations for the crime.
The people of Killeen have been exposed to numerous mass killings in recent years. In 1991 the town was the scene of the Luby's massacre in which 33 died, the worst mass murder in US history until Seung Hui Cho cut a swathe of destruction through Virginia Tech in April 2007.