Category Archives: murder

Rockwall County father kills self, 14-year-old son near Lake Lavon

A Rowlett man shot and killed himself after killing his 14-year-old son, who attended Williams Middle School in Rockwall, Friday night near Lake Lavon.

Police said Roberto Acevedo Jr., 38, called police after shooting his son, Justin Acevedo, before turning the gun on himself.

Police found the bodies near an abandoned vehicle at Elm Creek Park, as Acevedo had told a Collin County 911 operator.

Both bodies received one gunshot wound to the head from a 12-gauge shotgun that was found near the scene. Acevedo told dispatchers that the gun was on the ground near the bodies.

Collin County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe that the incident was a murder/suicide, but they will not give a confirmation until the Medical Examiner’s Office makes an official ruling.

Investigators found a note in the abandoned vehicle that led police to believe that Roberto Acevedo Jr. believed his son would be sent to jail and would not be able to defend himself, and that he did not want his son to go to prison.

Collin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. John Norton said there were no warrants out for the son’s arrest. He also said he does not know why the father and son were at Elm Creek Park.

RISD’s Director of Communications Sheri Fowler said the district sent a letter home to all families with students at the campus and provided additional counseling resources at school.

“Several of his close friends were very upset by the situation, but our counselors were doing their very best to comfort the students and answer any questions,” Fowler said.

“Our main concern is just being there for those students, and we were definitely prepared for that this morning.”

“Dating Violence Dangers” presentation made by mother of murdered 2001 Rockwall H.S. grad

The mother of murdered 2001 Rockwall High School graduate Jennifer Pankz spoke this morning about “Dating Violence Dangers” to about 25 community leaders and volunteers gathered at Presbyterian Hospital of Rockwall for a meeting of the Rockwall County  Coalition Against Family Violence.

Her mother, Rowlett resident and former First Convenience Bank of Rockwall manager Tanya Pankz, told the audience that Jennifer was killed Dec. 27, 2002, by a boy she had been dating at the University of North Texas, where she had only been a student for one semester.

She explained that when Jennifer tried to break up with the boy and leave the apartment – after she learned that he was taking steroids – he grabbed her in a headlock, broke her neck and then stabbed her several times. The Denton County coroner later confirmed that she died instantly when he broke her neck.

The murderer, Stephen Chartier, is now serving a 45-year prison sentence for murder, although he did escape a life sentence when he plea bargained and admitted his guilt. Consequently, he will be eligible for parole after 22.5 years.

Pankz also showed a Fox 4 news video reporting about her daughter’s murder, in which she and her husband explained how devastating it has been to family and friends. Five of her friends from high school were also in attendance, and have volunteered to speak out about the dangers of dating violence, as well.

The still-grieving mother said she’ll never forget Jennifer’s last words to her on the phone, ironically asking whether the body of domestic violence victim Lacy Peterson had been found. Lacy’s husband, Scott Peterson, was later convicted of her murder.

“Then Jennifer said she had something she had to go do, and ended her phone conversation with ‘Love ya mom.”

Pankz told the group that she later was surprised to learn that Jennifer was actually involved in a prior abusive relationship in high school, even though her daughter was raised in a loving, middle-class family “where this type of violence was not supposed to happen.”

She explained that she still does not understand why Jennifer was involved with not just one but two abusive, controlling males, but has concluded that there are just so many abusive young men that it is difficult for young women nowadays not to meet and date at least one.

“Recent research conducted in Texas reveals that over 50 percent of teens have either personally been or know someone who has been involved in dating violence,” she added.

The meeting was held to help kick off the resumed efforts of the Rockwall County Coalition Against Family Violence, spearheaded by the Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation. The non-profit organization is devoted to increasing public education, while promoting necessary changes in schools, governments, workplaces, churches and communities to reduce and prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assaults and child abuse/neglect.

Foundation founder and president J.J. Smith, a Rockwall resident and himself a survivor, introduced Pankz and told the audience after her presentation that the Foundation will commit to identifying, promoting and bringing together all of the resources across Rockwall County and other counties so that the various organizations involved will know what each other is doing in the battle against relationship violence.

Comments were made by most everyone in attendance stating that they recognized the need to work more closely together and welcomed the Lillian Smith Foundation’s efforts to help.

Included in the audience were Dr. Gene Burton, Superintendent of Rockwall ISD Schools; Sheri Fowler, RISD Director of Communications; Presbyterian Hospital’s Social Services Director Ruth Thomas and Chaplain Bob Reeves; Rockwall Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Detective Vickie Oldham; Women In Need Women’s Shelter Director Roger Robertson; Women In Need’s Rockwall client advocate Angie Glidewell; past president of the Rockwall Soroptimist’s Club Karen Straughan; community volunteer Marlyn Staggs; prominent Rockwall and Dallas “Superlawyer” and newspaper columnist John Browning; plus several Lillian Smith Foundation members.

Another meeting will be scheduled within 2-3 weeks in the evening, Smith said, so that more people can hear Tanya Pankz speak about Dating Violence Dangers.

Over 200 people have clicked on the website and blog stories, thus far, and dozens have expressed interest in attending her presentation during the evening.

Mother of murdered 2001 Rockwall H.S. grad to speak about dating violence dangers

Jennifer Pankz

(Click photo to enlarge)

The mother of murdered 2001 Rockwall High School graduate Jennifer Pankz will speak about the dangers of dating violence, Sept. 10, 7:30-8:30 am, at Presbyterian Hospital of Rockwall, 3150 Horizon Rd.

Tanya Pankz, the former branch manager of all three First Convenience Bank locations in Rockwall, is joining family violence survivor J.J. Smith and law enforcement officers to speak and help start organizing volunteers to join the Rockwall-based Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation, which is spearheading the efforts of the new Rockwall County Coalition Against Family Violence.

“Jen,” the daughter of Brian and Tanya Pankz of Rowlett, was found murdered Dec. 27, 2002, by a boy whom she had been dating at the University of North Texas (UNT), after she told him she didn’t want to continue dating anymore because she had just learned that he was taking steroids.

The killer pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 years in prison, although he becomes eligible for parole after 22.5 years.

For more information, contact J.J. Smith, either by phone at 214-256-4071 or email