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Neighbors recall comings and goings at house where Abilene murder victim was held

Video: Neighbors recall comings and...

ABILENE, Texas - Neighbors on the 1500 block of Sycamore Street say they saw multiple people at the residence where murder victim Ronald Michael Varner was tied up and held against his will before he was killed.

While it has been nearly a year since the murder of Varner, Rick Martinez recalls people coming in and out of the residence at all hours of the day. He also remembers seeing murder suspect Matthew Struble, who was extradited from Arizona on Wednesday night.

Struble, who is facing a capital murder charge, is one of five people who have been arrested in connection with Varner’s death.

"You never knew who was there, because there was always so many people coming in," Martinez said.

PHOTOS OF HOME, NEIGHBOR --> http://www.ktxs.com/590935909

MUGSHOTS OF 5 SUSPECTS -> http://www.ktxs.com/553090435

The home according to neighbors and court documents was rented out to two of the kidnapping suspects, Michael Pine and Euella Cooper.

Neighbors say they had no running water or electricity yet still had lots of people over, both men and women.

The case is being investigated by the Texas Rangers who went out to County Road 347 and FM 1082 on Aug. 2, 2016 in Jones County where Varner’s body was found.

According to the Texas Rangers, Varner’s girlfriend told them he had called her on Aug. 1 after house sitting at 1525 Sycamore. He told her he had been tied up and beaten and that he believed he would be let go. Only the suspects never let him go free.

Inside, according to their statements to police, they felt a need to kill Varner because they would otherwise face kidnapping charges.

A total of five individuals at the house that day, including Pine, Cooper and Olyvia Jackson, Jody Ordway, and Matthew Struble conspired to kill Varner, documents indicate.

Struble is reportedly the trigger man, shooting Varner multiple times. Jackson was also involved, making sure Varner was dead by shooting him in the head, according to suspect’s statements.

Residents on Sycamore say they are sadden to hear how Varner was tortured yet are thankful their street is now quiet. 

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Previous story:

Matthew Struble, 24, is back in Taylor County after being arrested on a capital murder warrant in connection with the shooting death of 31-year-old Ronald Michael Varner.

Struble was caught in Arizona and made the 700-mile return trip to Abilene Wednesday night. He landed at the Abilene Regional Airport shortly after 9 p.m.

Varner was found dead on CR 347 in Jones County last August. He had been shot multiple times.

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Months went by before police announced they had made a break in the case thanks to witness statements. Struble and four others were identified as suspects. They have now all been booked for charges ranging from aggravated kidnapping to capital murder.

Struble was taken to the Taylor County Jail. His booking information, including bond amounts, have not yet been made available.

KTXS will update this article when we know more.\

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Previous story:

Abilene police have arrested a fourth suspect in the August 2016 kidnapping and murder of Ronald Michael Varner.

Jody Alexander Ordway, 31, was booked into the Taylor County Jail on Thursday. He’s charged with aggravated kidnapping and his bond was set at $50,000.

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Ordway and four other suspects have been charged in connection with Varner’s murder.

Varner's body was found lying on CR 347 south of FM 1082 in Jones County. He had been shot multiple times.

Last week, Matthew Thomas Struble, 24, of Albany, was arrested in Douglas, Arizona..

Three people have been charged with capital murder in the case:

*-  Michael Dean Pine, 37, of Abilene

*- Euella Louise Cooper, 37, of Abilene

*- Olyvia Lee Jackson, 25, of Cisco

MUGSHOTS OF 5 SUSPECTS -> http://www.ktxs.com/553090435

The case is being prosecuted as capital murder because the shooting occurred during the course of a kidnapping, according to the Taylor County District Attorney's Office.

The crime scene was southeast of Hawley, west of Lake Fort Phantom and north of Abilene.

According to court documents, Struble said he saw Varner tied up, naked at Pine and Cooper's house in the 1500 block of Sycamore Street, one day before he was found murdered.

Ordway admitted being at the home and said Varner was beaten at different times. According to retired Texas Ranger Danny Crawford, Varner tried to escape but Ordway and Pine chased after him. After catching Varner, they brought him back to the house, took off his clothes and tied him up.

Struble said Cooper told him that Varner needed to be killed and that they couldn’t turn him loose because they would be arrested for kidnapping. Cooper then handed Struble a gun, documents show.

Struble also said he and Jackson drove out to a “county road in Jones County” where Struble shot Varner multiple times “until he (Varner) fell on the ground.” Struble said Jackson then shot Varner in the head.

Following the murder, Struble and Jackson drove to a motel at Grape and I-20 where Pine ordered them to take a shower. Their clothes were put in a trash bag that was then disposed of, according to court documents.

Jackson also told police that she shot Varner in the head and that she and Struble were the only two at the scene of the murder.

In addition, Varner’s girlfriend told investigators that she went by Pine and Cooper's Sycamore Street house -- on Aug. 1 -- where Varner was house sitting. He didn’t answer the door. But she said he called her that night and told her that he had been tied up and beaten, but that the suspects were going to let him go. She said she then heard a man in the background saying, “We’re taking you home.” He never made it there, she said.

Meanwhile, a witness said she saw Varner on top of another man, striking him, a few days earlier. This occurred at a Sycamore Street home with all four suspects present, according to documents. She also said Jackson and Struble came by her house the day before Varner was found dead. She said Varner was in the car but didn’t come inside with them. Later that night, she said Pine, Jackson and Cooper came to her house and that Pine told her he was looking for ammunition.

Varner was found with gunshot wounds to his left lower back, left forearm, right chest, left chest and right side of his head, according to court documents. Spent .380 caliber shell casings were found in the road where his body was found.

Pine was arrested in December on multiple charges after a man told police Pine brought him a gun and asked if he could make it “disappear.” The man said Varner gave him the frame, barrel and slide from a Denali .380 ACP.

The same man also told police that Pine claims to have killed Varner because Varner was an informant and was “building a case on Cooper.”

Pine, Jackson and Cooper were booked into Taylor County Jail on Monday. Pine and Jackson’s bonds are $100,000 each, while the bonds for Cooper total $148,000.\

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Original story

Three people have been arrested and charged with capital murder in the death of a 31-year-old Abilene man.

Ronald Michael Varner's body was found Aug. 2, 2016, lying on CR 347 south of FM 1082 in Jones County. He had been shot multiple times.

Arrested
*-  Michael Dean Pine, 37, of Abilene

*- Euella Louise Cooper, 37, of Abilene

*- Olyvia Lee Jackson, 25, of Cisco

MUGSHOTS OF THE 3 -> http://www.ktxs.com/553090435

Texas Rangers and Abilene police are looking for 24-year-old Matthew Thomas Struble of Albany and Jody Ordway, 31, of Abilene

Ordway is also wanted for aggravated kidnapping.

The case is being prosecuted as capital murder because the shooting occurred during the course of a kidnapping, according to the Taylor County District Attorney's Office.

The crime scene was southeast of Hawley, west of Lake Fort Phantom and north of Abilene.

According to court documents, Struble said he saw Varner tied up, naked at Pine and Cooper's house in the 1500 block of Sycamore Street, one day before he was found murdered.

Ordway admitted being at the home and said Varner was beaten at different times. According to retired Texas Ranger Danny Crawford, Varner tried to escape but Ordway and Pine chased after him. After catching Varner, they brought him back to the house, took off his clothes and tied him up.

Struble said Cooper told him that Varner needed to be killed and that they couldn’t turn him loose because they would be arrested for kidnapping. Cooper then handed Struble a gun, documents show.

Struble also said he and Jackson drove out to a “county road in Jones County” where Struble shot Varner multiple times “until he (Varner) fell on the ground.” Struble said Jackson then shot Varner in the head.

Following the murder, Struble and Jackson drove to a motel at Grape and I-20 where Pine ordered them to take a shower. Their clothes were put in a trash bag that was then disposed of, according to court documents.

Jackson also told police that she shot Varner in the head and that she and Struble were the only two at the scene of the murder.

In addition, Varner’s girlfriend told investigators that she went by Pine and Cooper's Sycamore Street house -- on Aug. 1 -- where Varner was house sitting. He didn’t answer the door. But she said he called her that night and told her that he had been tied up and beaten, but that the suspects were going to let him go. She said she then heard a man in the background saying, “We’re taking you home.” He never made it there, she said.

Meanwhile, a witness said she saw Varner on top of another man, striking him, a few days earlier. This occurred at a Sycamore Street home with all four suspects present, according to documents. She also said Jackson and Struble came by her house the day before Varner was found dead. She said Varner was in the car but didn’t come inside with them. Later that night, she said Pine, Jackson and Cooper came to her house and that Pine told her he was looking for ammunition.

Varner was found with gunshot wounds to his left lower back, left forearm, right chest, left chest and right side of his head, according to court documents. Spent .380 caliber shell casings were found in the road where his body was found.

Pine was arrested in December on multiple charges after a man told police Pine brought him a gun and asked if he could make it “disappear.” The man said Varner gave him the frame, barrel and slide from a Denali .380 ACP.

The same man also told police that Pine claims to have killed Varner because Varner was an informant and was “building a case on Cooper.”

Pine, Jackson and Cooper were booked into Taylor County Jail on Monday. Pine and Jackson’s bonds are $100,000 each, while the bonds for Cooper total $148,000.


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