Murder in Hardin County, TX - Deputy Sued for Involvement in Death - Sheriff Ed Cain Sued for Cover-up
by David Bellow on August 29, 2011 at 1:18 PM
Update 6/18/2013: This article was posted over a year ago. I see that there are a ton of people looking at the article today so I wanted to post on here that, after this original article came out, Clint West had been CONVICTED and in prison for Murder! This story is not done though, there are some shocking updates that will be revealed soon about the coverup of this murder so keep checking back!
Update: The Hardin County District Attorney has requested that a special prosecutor be appointed to prosecute the case against West because of the Janca family's allegations.
Update: The Hardin County Sheriff Department has taken a positive step forward and released over 130 pages of documents to the Janca family that they were withholding. I am pleased to say that a couple of days after this article came out, and the day before the lawsuit against the sheriff went to trial, the Sheriff Department gave the Janca family over 130 documents that they were withholding. This caused the lawsuit against the Sheriff Department to be dismissed because the documents were finally handed over. It took a lawsuit and some bad press but the Janca family finally got the documents that they requested several months ago. Thank You Sheriff Department for the Positive Step Forward.Update: After this article was posted, several News Agencies, including KFDM, KBTV, KBMT, and the Beaumont Enterprise reported that Clint West has been charged with the Murder of Nicole Janca. Plus, the Grand Jury has indicted West on the charge of Murder. Update: Tuesday, 8/30/11 is a big day in court. Several Sheriff Deputies have been subpoenaed in a lawsuit against the Sheriff Department. Also, the District Attorney charged Clint West with murder months ago, but on Tuesday a Grand Jury will finally have an opportunity to indict West on the murder charge. Hardin County, TX:Clint West of Lumberton, TX has been charged with murder in the death of Lakon Nicole Janca.
No one knows about the murder charge though. The media does not even know about the murder charge.West has been charged with murder for a couple of months now, but the Hardin County Sheriff’s Department has kept a tight lid on things. In fact, if the Sheriff Department had their way, West would have only been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor and not charged with murder. Things have been so secretive that the Hardin County Sheriff, Ed Cain, has even been slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly manipulating official documents in an effort to seemingly protect a Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy, Tony Flowers, who is involved in some of the events of the alleged murder of Nicole Janca.Before I go any further, I want to make something clear. I support law enforcement. I am a Federal Law Enforcement Officer and a member of the United States Military. I support the Hardin County Sheriff Department, and I even know a few of the Deputies, and they are good officers. One thing I do not like though, is a bad law enforcement officer. They can cause people to get hurt or die, and they give other officers and the department a bad name, like former Captain Robert Arnold in Orange who killed an unarmed war veteran (who now wants to have a badge again). I believe Tony Flowers is a bad officer who should be charged for his involvement in the events that lead to the death of Nicole Janca.
I further believe that Sheriff Ed Cain needs to discipline or fire Tony Flowers instead of causing harm to the Department by covering for Flowers. This covering for Flowers has already harmed the Department because the alleged murder was not investigated properly, and now there is a lawsuit against the department because Ed Cain allegedly falsified official records. This story uses facts from the investigation reports and court documents, and also uses information received from Nicole Janca’s mother and other firsthand witnesses. I do not name any Hardin County Sheriff Deputies except for Tony Flowers. Flowers, Clint West and Sheriff Ed Cain (who is ultimately responsible for the actions of his department) are the focus of this story, and I do not want to make other Hardin County Deputies look bad who might not have done anything wrong, so I do not name any other Deputies. My intent is not to attack the Sheriff, but the truth needs to be heard, and Sheriff Ed Cain has some explaining to do. He needs to take immediate corrective actions to make things right. People can read this article and decide for themselves what they want to think.
The following story reveals the details of the alleged murder, the involvement of Deputy Flowers in this alleged murder, the details of the botched investigation by the Hardin County Sheriff Department, and the details of the lawsuit alleging Sheriff Ed Cain falsified documents to cover for Deputy Flowers.
The Alleged Murder of Nicole Janca
A couple of months ago I sat in a Hardin County courtroom and heard two men testify that Clint West admitted to them that he murdered Nicole Janca on November 8th, 2010 following an argument over a ring at a party hosted by Sheriff Deputy Tony Flowers at the Texas Peace Officer’s Dear Lease, aka the TPO Hunting Club (Deputy Flowers is President of Club), in Honey Island near Kountze, TX. I saw the DA present a picture of Nicole’s bloody hand with no blood covering a section of her finger where it was apparent that a ring had been before she died but was taken off right after her hand got bloodied. According to Police Records, Clint West had been drinking at the TPO club and became intoxicated and got into an argument with his girlfriend, Nicole Janca. Sheriff Deputy Tony Flowers told an intoxicated West to get in his vehicle and find Nicole (who had walked down the dirt road on the camp) and then leave because they were arguing. West allegedly killed Nicole by pushing her out of his moving vehicle as they left the TPO Hunting Club, putting his hand over her mouth as she was dying on the road, and then taking the ring off of her finger before taking her to a gas station and telling police that she was intoxicated and jumped out of the car. She died at the hospital early the next morning, November 9th, 2010, as a result of those injuries.
Deputy Tony Flowers: His Actions and Involvement in the Alleged Murder
Although I am sure there are many law-abiding people who hunt at the TPO Club, the TPO hunting club has a reputation for being a place where people can have sex and get drunk. This situation with Clint West and Nicole Janca does not seem to be any different. Nicole told her mother, Frances Janca, that she was at the TPO Hunting Club with Clint West for the week and that she was drinking there. Nicole’s mother told her it was not a good idea for her to drink since she was underage. Nicole said that Sheriff Deputy Flowers was there with his girlfriend, Stephanie Jackson House, (not his wife) and that he did not say anything to her about not drinking. The night of the alleged murder, Flowers admits to seeing West drink several beers. Flowers admits that West and Nicole got into an argument and Flowers admits to telling West to get Nicole and leave (knowing that West had consumed several beers). When Nicole was allegedly murdered, West did not call 911. Records show that West called Flowers. Flowers did not render aid to a dying young girl who was only about a mile away at the end of his Hunting Club dirt road. Instead, Flowers says he told West to leave the scene with Nicole and then call 911 at another location. According to Nicole Janca’s mother, Frances Janca, a man named Robert Lee (who is friends with West and Flowers) says Deputy Flowers called him and told him to tell West that he would just be charged with giving alcohol to a minor and that basically everything was going to be okay for West. West has been heard saying that Flowers better take care of him or everyone is going down. Frances Janca even says that West told her that Flowers told him if he would take the contributing to a minor charge, he would help him with the rest. According to the police records, Flowers did not even give the police any information about the argument between West and Nicole even though that information would have indicated that there might have been foul play involved.
How can the Hardin County Sheriff Department NOT investigate Flowers for his unacceptable actions? How can they not at least discipline him? This man is supposed to uphold the law. Janca’s mother says that Flowers let her daughter (underage) drink alcohol at his club. Flowers admits to telling a man who had several beers to get into his car and drive while intoxicated. Any upstanding law enforcement officer would never have allowed a drunk person to drive. Flowers did not just let a drunk person drive, he TOLD a drunk person to drive, according to investigation reports. There is even currently a lawsuit against Tony Flowers for his role in the death of Nicole Janca because he told an upset, drunk Clint West to get in his vehicle and get Nicole and leave. He is a law enforcement officer and he knows better. He told someone to break the law and now a person is dead. Instead of Flowers being disciplined or even criminally investigated for his wrongdoing, Sheriff Ed Cain has chosen to shield Flowers and even seemingly to shield Clint West in the process of covering for Flowers.
This is not the first time Flowers has allegedly been involved in questionable situations. I have been contacted by several people who said that Flowers was at a hunting club several years ago where a man was cut up and Flowers did nothing. Also, right after this incident, a Honey Island man allegedly went to Ed Cain and told him that Flowers was sleeping with the man’s wife and that Cain needed to do something about it. I have even been told from a first-hand source that Flowers allegedly stopped her cousin, but told her she would not get into trouble if she showed him her behind. I could list other things that people have accused Flowers of doing, but now I want to get back on track with Nicole Janca’s Murder Case. You get the point though. Flowers does not seem like the kind of guy who should have a badge.
What kinds of people are allowed to work under Sheriff Cain? This is unacceptable and it is bringing discredit upon the Hardin County Sheriff Department. I suppose history repeats itself though because once upon a time, Sheriff Deputy (and current Silsbee City Councilman) Thomas Tyler was caught in a sting with a prostitute. Tyler did not get in trouble though after that incident with a prostitute, and he was even recently involved in an alleged cover-up of a child rape in Silsbee, TX.
The Botched Hardin County Sheriff Investigation that Almost let Nicole’s Alleged Killer off the Hook
Clint West showed up at a gas station in Kountze with a dying Nicole Janca. Nicole is taken to the hospital where she later died. The Sheriff Investigation starts (and also basically ends) that night at this gas station in Kountze, TX. An intoxicated West was asked about what happened. After telling different stories and admitting he was arguing with her, he was asked to write a statement. West wrote a first statement, but the Deputy told him it would not work, so the first statement was tossed (we do not know what it said) and West wrote a second statement. This is West’s exact statement (the second one) that he wrote for Sheriff Department that night:“I was at the culb, we eat some deer we talk and we waz going home and we get to sour mapler and to 1003 she said she going to jump out over me truck I went going about 20 mile and she did. I put she in me truck and drive to 421 and 69 to get help”.After West gave his statement, the Sheriff Department drove West home and then the next day, November 10th, 2010, they asked the County Attorney to charge him with giving alcohol to a minor and they all but closed their Investigation. No other charges.
Clint West was on probation for previously driving while intoxicated. He was driving with a suspended license, he admitted to drinking and driving, and had no car insurance. West told the Deputy more than one story and his stories were inconsistent. At one point he said he was driving 50 mph and at another point he said he was only going 20 mph. The Deputy knew there was an argument between West and Nicole. There was blood all over the inside of the car and Nicole’s bloody hand had a missing ring. So what did the Sheriff Department do? Surely they booked him for at least drinking and driving or for driving with a suspended license? Nope. They got a statement, drove West home and concluded that he should only be charged with giving alcohol to a minor. It gets worse. They did not impound his vehicle to investigate all the blood in the front AND back of the vehicle. The car cleaning company by Beaumont Colony even called the Sheriff Department and told them about the blood and scratch marks on the inside window. The Sheriff Department told them to clean it. (West’s vehicle was not taken and inspected by the Sheriff Department until seven months later when Frances Janca and Stewart Butler asked a Judge to allow them to inspect the vehicle.) The Sheriff Department did not take West’s clothes or Nicole’s clothes, and they even refused to take Nicole’s boots into evidence when Nicole’s mother brought them to the Sheriff Department and showed them how the deep gashes on the boots show that Nicole was dragged for some time and did not just fall out of the vehicle. They did not even go to the Hunting Club that night to look for evidence or to ask the several witnesses what happened there between Clint and Nicole. Frances Janca and her Lawyer Stewart Butler had to contact the witnesses at the TPO Club and interview them about that night since the Sheriff Department would not question them. The only thing the Sheriff Department actually did in their investigation, according to the records, was ask West for a statement, they took some pictures, and they also went to the “accident” site in the dark that night to get some pictures of the blood on the street. The “accident site” was conveniently only a couple hundred feet from the TOP Club property.
Even more disturbing is that, according to one of the investigating Deputies who arrived at the gas station, the first Deputy there had already decided that no foul play was suspected. They had not even investigated yet and they already decided that nothing bad happened. Also, Deputy Flowers was still allowed access to all of the investigation reports and could read everything before he gave his official statement about what happened that night. Plus, why wasn’t the DPS involved since this “accident” happened on a Texas Highway?
I know the Hardin County Sheriff Department is better than this and would have normally investigated better….It is almost as if a fellow Deputy (Tony Flowers) called the Sheriff Deputies at the scene and told them that nothing happened and to not investigate. That is the only plausible reason why the Hardin County Sheriff Deputies would not investigate this death. They were probably tricked by their fellow Deputy Flowers.
So the case was closed. West was only getting a charge of giving alcohol to a minor.
Nicole Janca’s mother did not give up though.
Frances Janca went to the Sheriff Department and tried to give them Nicole’s boots with the deep gashed from being dragged. She tried to tell the police that Nicole’s boot had a missing heel cap and Nicole’s wig was also nowhere at the “accident site” so there had to have been a struggle at the Hunting Club. She tried to tell them that her daughter did not jump out.
Frances Janca’s attempts to have the Sheriff Department look more into the case fell on deaf ears though. One Sheriff Deputy told Frances Janca that Nicole fell out of the car and that was the end of the discussion. Sheriff Ed Cain told Frances Janca that all she wanted to do is argue and accuse people of not doing their job. The Sheriff’s Department said that the only thing West did wrong was to give Nicole alcohol and that was that. Sheriff Cain even said that Deputy Flowers did nothing wrong for not trying to help her dying daughter because Flowers was off duty.
A FULL MONTH passed since the Sheriff Department had closed the case and told Nicole’s mother that it was an accident. But Frances Janca was still working on her daughter’s case. She contacted Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Texas Rangers.
Frances Janca had asked the Texas Rangers to get involved because she believed that the Hardin County Sheriff Department should not have done the investigation in this death because it involved a Hardin County Sheriff Deputy and because the Hardin County Sheriff Department was refusing to re-open the case or accept any more evidence, like Nicole’s boots. Also, West’s furnishing alcohol to a minor charge, and the idea that Janca would jump or accidentally fall out of the vehicle, hinged on West’s statement that Nicole was intoxicated that night. Well the toxicology results came back and showed that Nicole, although she said she was drinking that week, was NOT drinking the night of the accident and had no alcohol in her system when she died.
Things were not adding up, so a month after the Hardin County Sheriff Department had stopped investigating is when Texas Ranger Ken Parks got involved at the request of Frances Janca. Then and only then did the Sheriff Department decided to open the case back up. In fact, the investigating deputy even writes in his report that Ranger Parks came and met with him and Ed Cain and this is when (a month later on December 6th, 2010) the Sheriff Department finally decides to re-interview Clint West and then go to the TPO club and look around for evidence. At this point, they also do other things like get the evidence from Nicole’s mother and they request the phone record of West’s cell phone. Now they are investigating! Another month after they re-opened the investigation, The Sheriff Department and Ranger Ken Parks concluded their investigations and decided that West should be charged with manslaughter. Basically that means they decided that Clint West caused the death of Nicole Janca but did not intentionally try to kill her.
So the District Attorney charges Clint West with Manslaughter and West is held on a $200,000 bond.
Now things are moving along. But what about the ring missing from Nicole’s hand? What about all the other evidence and missing pieces to the story? Why was Deputy Flowers not investigated?
Things went cold again. But then a few months later, The District Attorney, David Sheffield, steps in and gets his own evidence together and starts putting the pieces together himself. He gets two witnesses who say Clint West admitted to killing Nicole. These witnesses filled in the missing parts like why Nicole and West were arguing. They were arguing over a ring (but the Sheriff Department would have known that if they would have talked to the witnesses at the TPO Club that night). This new information also explains why there was a missing ring on Nicole’s finger when she died (again, the Sheriff Department would have known that a long time ago if they had investigated properly).
So the District Attorney gets this new evidence together, puts the pieces together and charges Clint West with Murder. Clint West is now currently being held in the Hardin County Jail on a $500,000 bond with Manslaughter and Murder charges.
But wait, there is more.
After these new witnesses and new evidence had been introduced, and after the DA charged West with murder, Frances Janca asked Ranger Parks to consider the new evidence and consider that Clint West murdered Nicole. Ken Parks refused to re-open the case to consider this new information and he still says it was just an accident and that Frances Janca is just a grieving mother who is trying to make it into something more than what it is and she needs to stop. Frances Janca even says that Ken Parks lied to her. Frances Janca was told by Ken Parks that he had a tissue sample taken of Nicole (for testing) but the morgue told Frances Janca that there was no tissue sample taken. But why would Ken Parks not want to consider this evidence that shows that Nicole’s death was more than an accident. And why would Ken Parks lie to Frances Janca? Also, Ken Parks did not investigate Deputy Flowers for any wrong doing. Ken Parks is with a different agency but he lives only a couple miles from the TPO Club and where this incident happened. He is sure to know the Sheriff Department well. Maybe he is trying to shield Flowers too by concluding it was just an accident and not investigating Flowers? If Ken Parks is trying to cover for Flowers this would not be the first time that Parks is accused of covering for another officer. Ranger Parks has also been accused of falsifying witness statements to protect former Officer Robert Arnold who shot and killed an unarmed war veteran in Orange, TX. Even the former Orange Police Chief, Sam Kittrell, said that Ranger Parks had taken the side of Officer Robert Arnold prematurely because Parks had decided that it was a “clean shoot” before Parks had even had time to investigate the killing. The Orange Police Department decided that it was not a “clean shoot” and fired Officer Arnold. Anyway, whether or not Ken Parks is in the wrong for his actions in this Hardin County case, he certainly should have had a different Texas Ranger investigate from the beginning because it is not really an outside investigation if the Ranger investigating lives by, and knows, the people he is investigating.
Lawsuit Against Hardin County Sheriff, Ed Cain, alleging that Sheriff Cain Falsified Official Documents to Cover for Deputy FlowersDoes this story not have enough twists? There are more.
As mentioned above, Hardin County Sheriff Ed Cain has been sued for allegedly falsifying official documents and illegally withholding documents. Stewart Butler, the lawyer for Frances Janca, did an Open Records Request of all the phone calls made to the 911 the night of Nicole’s death and also the investigation reports. An Open Records Request is part of a Texas law that requires that government agencies must provide public documents to anyone who sends a written request. The governmental agency has 10 days to provide the documents. The agency cannot withhold any information. If the agency feels that there is some information that should not be released then the governmental agency must ask for the Texas Attorney General for an opinion to decide what the governmental agency can withhold, if anything.
So Frances Janca asked for 911 records and investigation reports. That is a pretty simple request right? Frances waited months to get the information. When she finally got the information, the Sheriff Department certified that the information they were receiving was an exact copy of the originals. Unfortunately the Sheriff Department lied to them. Frances Janca and
Stewart Butler discovered that the documents had been altered (important information was taken out) and also several documents were missing. So first of all, it took the Sheriff Department months to get the documents instead of the 10 days they are allowed by law. Second, the documents were altered and some documents were missing. The Sheriff Department did not tell Frances Janca that anything was missing or altered. Third, the Sheriff Department did not request that the Texas Attorney General allow them to withhold any information. The Sheriff cannot say they were not aware of the rules because the Sheriff Department has the Open Records Request Rules posted on the wall of the Sheriff Department.Stewart Butler and Frances Janca know that the Sheriff Department falsified what they gave them because the information that the Sheriff Department gave the morgue was different than the information they were given by the Sheriff Department.
So Stewart Butler files a Mandamus against Sheriff Cain. Sheriff Ed Cain is being sued for falsifying documents and withholding document and the lawsuit is asking a judge to force Sheriff Cain to release the information.
A couple of weeks after the lawsuit against Sheriff Cain, the media finally picked up on it. The Beaumont Enterprise wrote an article about the Mandamus that was filed against Sheriff Cain. In the article, the Sheriff Department does not accept responsibility for altering the documents and for not contacting the Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, to ask for permission to withhold any information. Instead the Sheriff Department’s lawyer just plays down the lawsuit by telling the Enterprise that there was some confidential information that was withheld and that everything will be okay, and there is not a need for the court to get involved. Kudos goes to the Enterprise for finding out about the mandamus and writing about it, but the media still does not know what is going on. Okay, the media knows that there is a lawsuit against Sheriff Cain because Cain is withholding some information, but the media has no idea WHAT information the Sheriff Department is withholding.
Well, it seems that some of the information that the Sheriff Department secretly withheld is the list and timeline of calls made by Clint West and Deputy Flowers. Now why would Sheriff Ed Cain want to hide that information? So it is ok to release the information about everyone else who calls 911 but it is not ok to release information about 911 calls when a Sheriff Deputy and his friend call 911? Come on now, it is almost as if the Sheriff wants people to think there is a cover-up.
District Attorney David Sheffield should be commended for really investigating this case and charging Clint West with murder. Stewart Butler should be commended for fighting for Nicole Janca for free. Frances Janca should be commended for fighting for her daughter and not giving up until the truth was revealed. Clint West will have his day in court and a jury will decide whether or not these facts and allegations are enough evidence to convict him with murder. The Hardin County Sheriff Department is filled with some great Deputies. Tony Flowers is not one of them. Frances Janca has said that Sheriff Ed Cain has privately told her that there was pure negligence in the Sheriff Department investigation but that he would not have changed anything if they had done the investigation right. Sheriff Ed Cain, whether or not you love the guy or hate the guy, needs to stop covering for Flowers. Sheriff Cain needs to take responsibility for the botched investigation, he needs to apologize publically to Frances Janca, he needs to discipline, or fire, Deputy Flowers, and he needs to stop hiding the documents. Just come clean and let the Sheriff Department move forward so y’all can go out and continue to do a good job of fighting crime without all these distractions. I am sure I will get several emails after this article. Some people will love it, and some people will hate it. I just want to bring the facts to light for everyone to see so that justice will be done for Nicole Janca. This story was written using facts from the investigation reports, and by information from Frances Janca, Stewart Butler, and other people close to the investigation whom I believe to be telling the truth. Click here to read some of Frances Janca's story on the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website, and you can also Donate Money to help the Janca Family Here