The cold case of Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. 

Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr

Courtesy of the family

Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. (Aug. 31, 1940 – Dec. 4, 2008) was found dead on Dec. 4, 2008 in his bedroom at home in the 700 block of Morninglory Lane (Victoria, Texas). He was 68 years old. He had just learned he was cancer-free. Arnold, Sr. liked hunting, fishing, cooking, and play cards. He was a US Navy veteran.

This is a very confusing case. Maybe if I read other reports it will make sense. However, what I found in the public domain (see links below) contradicts on structural issues.

The Family

Arnold, Sr. was married to Hattie Mae “Pat” Arnold Wright (April 21 1936 – Dec. 22, 2007) for 44 years before she passed away at age 71. Her first husband was Leroy Shannon (July 26 1933 – April 22, 1961). With Leroy, Hattie had several children. One daughter however, Georgia Ann Shannon (September 23, 1959 – March, 1974) passed away at age 14.

With Walter, Hattie had two more children. Together, they raised all seven children: Jerri Souther, Patricia Marthiljohni, Dwight K. Shannon, Danny L. Shannon, Jack B. Shannon, and Walter H. Arnold Jr.

Arnold, Sr. founded Arnold Plumbing and went to evening school. I am not sure what he studied. His son, Walter Arnold Jr. now carries on the plumbing business.

Arnold, Sr. did not have an easy life. He had a tractor accident as a child (not sure what his injuries were or if they were lasting), and battled cancer as an adult. Arnold heard that his cancer was in remission the day before he was found dead. Arnold was known for helping anyone in need.

Discrepancies

In this article, it says: “Arnold, 68, was found dead in his home in the 700 block of Morninglory Lane on Dec. 4, Chief Bruce Ure said. Arnold’s adult grandson, who helped care for him, placed a call to police telling them about the situation about 7:45 a.m., hours after he discovered Arnold dead in his bedroom, the chief said.”

Now compare that to this article: “One person was in the house with him the night he was murdered, the younger Arnold said, recalling what police told him. Walter Arnold Sr. was found strangled that night, but the other person in the house did not call the police until the next day, Walter Arnold Jr. said.”

Who exactly was in the house and until what time? Aside from this, a timeline would be helpful. When exactly did the grandson arrive? When does he normally leave? Why call hours after you find someone dead? Did the victim live alone? If the grandson came and went on set times (e.g. routine) someone watching the victim’s house could have noticed. Any reports of burglaries in the neighborhood?

What happened?

In this article, I found the following information. In italics is the quoted text. Below that, you see my questions.

The younger Arnold; his wife, Darlene Arnold; and his sister-in-law, Constance Kalina, suspect a person who had access to the home and called police that morning. They think that man was drunk when he killed Arnold and stole thousands of dollars from his safe.

  • Were there any signs of forced entry? Who had a key to the victim’s house?
  • How did the family know this person was drunk? If there was glassware or bottles, were they dusted for fingerprints? Were they preserved? Can we check them for DNA?
  • Was it well-known that the victim had a safe? This could tie in with someone watching the grandson’s routine of coming and going.

They said that person made both incriminating statements and extravagant purchases after Arnold’s death.

  • I have not found anything about this in the public domain.

They recalled hearing from a police detective that there was a one in 80 chance that the man’s DNA was underneath the elder Arnold’s fingernails. 

  • This hints at a struggle with the victim defending himself. The autopsy report should show defensive wounds on the victim. Finding DNA is possible but finding a match in the national databases is not a given.

Arnold’s cause of death is listed as strangulation.

  • Manual strangulation or strangulation with an object? Was the object preserved? If so, we should test it with the M-Vac for touch-DNA. If manual strangulation, do the wounds tell us anything about the attacker being left or right-handed?

They also think police haven’t followed up on credible leads or interviewed witnesses willing to talk to them.”

  • I haven’t found anything online about possible leads or suspects in this case.

In the same article we read what District Attorney Stephen Tyler thinks:

The case isn’t as strong as the family thinks. He said the detective assigned to the Arnold case was dedicated and thorough. Tyler didn’t remember finding any DNA under Arnold’s fingernails, and if there were, a one in 80 chance does not rule out many people, he said.

  • Do we still have the fingernail scrapings for testing?

Tyler wanted to know more about how the strangulation happened.

  • What else could the cause of death have been? Does Tyler think this could have been an accident? How strong is the evidence of strangulation? Is there an autopsy report?

He said that just because that person called police to report the death doesn’t mean he was there at the time it happened.

  • Agreed.

The safe? If there were an inventory of what was in the safe, police could have looked into whether anything was taken. But there’s wasn’t one.”

  • There was no inventory or there was no safe? Be specific. If there was a safe, was anything else touched, misplaced? Finger prints? If there was an inventory, would that have been handwritten or typed with a computer?
  • Was there a computer in the house? If so, was it checked for documents containing lists?
A second family

The above-mentioned newspaper article opens with this: Mary Powell is another daughter from the victim, Arnold, Sr. Her “mother refused to disclose many details about her father, other than he was in the Navy and stationed in Long Beach, Calif., in 1961.” Obviously, Mary’s mom had a brief relationship with the victim. Powell did a DNA test, checked an ancestry database, and found that her father’s name was Walter Arnold, Sr. She did an internet search and found his cold case.

We will need a lot more information to solve the murder of Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. I hope that by posting this we can trigger people’s memories. If you have any links to newspaper articles that can answer some of my questions, please contact me so we can update this post. Please help and share this post especially if you are in the Victoria, Texas area.

Rest in peace, Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr.

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In the series “Case of the Month” I highlight old cold cases. These posts are not an in-depth analysis. Often more information is online or in newspaper archives. The goal of these posts is to get the cases back in the spotlights, to get people talking again, and if anything to make sure that we do not forget Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. Just because his case is cold does not mean that we can forget about him.

If you have any thoughts about the case I encourage you to post them on your social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) Every time that we mention Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. online we enhance his digital footprints. We must make sure that he keeps his web presence if we ever wish to find answers in his case. You can help by linking to or sharing this post.

Thank you for remembering Walter Harrison Arnold, Sr. with us.

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Contact Information

If you have any information please call Victoria Crimestoppers at 361-572-4200 or the Victoria Police Department’s investigations unit at 361-485-3730.

Resources

Legacy

Justice for Walter

Victoria Advocate Dec 1, 2009

Victoria Advocate Oct 19, 2012

Victoria Advocate Jan 14, 2017