Friday, February 6, 2009

Search for Pearland woman pondered.

Texas EquuSearch officials backed off a plan of mounting a massive search Thursday for a woman abducted at gunpoint in a Pearland shopping center parking lot Monday.

"There are literally thousands of different areas where we could search," said Tim Miller, founder of the search agency.
He and others surveyed the areas between where Susana De Jesus was kidnapped to an automated teller machine in south Houston where her card was used to withdraw cash about an hour later and to another parking lot where her car was found early Tuesday. The distance between each point is roughly 11 miles.
"There are lots of places with fresh tire tracks and places of concealment and we just can't cover that big of an area," Miller said this afternoon.

When they get an indication of a smaller area, he said, then the search will begin.
De Jesus, 37, was forced into her car Monday night as she left her job at a clothing store in a shopping center on Smith Ranch Road, just east of Texas 288 near Pearland.

A security camera snapped a photo later that night of a masked man in the driver's seat of her black 2008 Cadillac at an automated teller machine outside a bank at 3636 Old Spanish Trail in Houston. He used De Jesus' card to withdraw cash.
It was not clear whether De Jesus was still in the car when the photo was taken.
Houston police found the Cadillac early Tuesday at an apartment complex in the 6000 block of West Airport.
Miller, who founded Texas EquuSearch after the 1984 abduction and murder of his daughter, has acknowledged that the prospects for finding De Jesus alive are not encouraging.
"It's pretty hard to think like these people think," he said, referring to the gunman who abducted De Jesus and the accomplice who was in another vehicle.
As police on Wednesday released the ATM photo, they said they don’t know why De Jesus was targeted.

The 37-year-old southeast Houston resident was walking with a co-worker when she was abducted about 9:15 p.m. Monday. The two were leaving their jobs at Catherines Plus Sizes.
The co-worker, whose name has not been disclosed, told investigators the abductor drove the Cadillac out of the shopping center parking lot with another vehicle following.

The ATM where the man was photographed is about 11 miles from the store and another 11 miles from where the car was found.

Brazoria County sheriff’s Capt. Chris Kincheloe said investigators are not sure whether the abduction has any connection to a recent series of home-invasion robberies in Pearland and other communities in the area. Each of the crimes has been different, he said.

The victim’s younger sister, Guilly Puente, said De Jesus never expressed any fear of leaving the shop after closing it and didn’t seem to have any enemies. “We don’t know who these people could be,” she said.
“Our mother isn’t taking this very well,” Puente said.
Puente and a friend distributed fliers at the shopping center Wednesday afternoon. She described her older sister as a kind, friendly person who is devoted to her two Chihuahuas and loves to cook for her family.
De Jesus’ 38-year-old husband, Gregorio, was killed on May 2 when his Corvette crashed into a concrete bridge support and burst into flames on the Gulf Freeway.

Kincheloe said De Jesus' co-worker waited about two hours after the abduction before calling police.
“Each person reacts differently to these things,” Kincheloe said, adding that the co-worker was “very shocked and scared” by the incident.

“She is cooperating with us fully” and is not a suspect, he said.
Store spokeswoman Gyle Coolick said De Jesus had been assistant manager since November 2007. “We are agonizing for her safe return,” Coolick said.
Miller said single women driving impressive new cars — such as De Jesus’ Cadillac — sometimes become targets.
“I don’t believe this was just random,” he said of the kidnapping. “I would anticipate he’d seen her over a few days or few weeks.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office at 281-756-2392, or investigator Wade Nichols at 281-756-2220.
Brazoria County Crime Stoppers also is taking anonymous tips at 800-460-2222

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pearland Old Townsite to get revitalized

Originally posted on the Chron.

We've been watching as the half of Pearland west of Hwy. 35 toward 288 and beyond is being developed like crazy. The WaterLights District will be swarming with tourists in a couple of years. Pearland Town Center has blown up with places for shopping and eating. And the development of housing and shopping centers continues to thrive on the West end.

What about the Pearland Old Townsite on the East end?

A new organization has been created to oversee the revitalization of a historic section of the City of Pearland's Old Townsite. The Pearland Old Townsite Business Coalition officially launched on Jan. 20 and is funded by the Pearland Economic Development Corporation (PEDC).

"Groups of concerned citizens and business owners have been meeting regularly for the past seven months, brainstorming ways to restore the beauty and history of this treasured part of town," said Kyler Cole, director of redevelopment for the PEDC. "Now, through this newly funded Coalition, these local businesses that have a vested interest in revitalizing this area will have a political voice, and together, we will help make their ideas a reality."

Approximately 40 district business owners will continue to meet monthly for discussion and plans to revitalize Old Pearland, and the Coalition will generate the revenues by membership dues and fundraisers. The Coalition will function under nonprofit status via four committees - beautification, membership, legislative/government relations and grants.

The Coalition may have just been launched but projects are already in the works and will take place in March. The initial district improvements is a $40,000 project and will include the installation of 130 brown historic street signs to replace the existing green street signs, along with ornamental poles.

In addition, the Coalition unveiled a new marketing brand and logo. Architect Jack McGuff is currently redesigning entryway monument signage at the Walnut and Broadway streets intersection. Other proposed projects include commercial fa├žade grants and loans, and drainage and sidewalk improvements.

"The completion of these projects will allow us to develop architectural design standards that will create a more consistent image in the district," Cole said.

Long-term plans include complete redevelopment of Grand Boulevard with accompanying streetscape and beautification enhancements, restoration and movement of the old train depot to the Old Townsite, a commuter rail station linking to downtown Houston, the establishment of a neighborhood empowerment zone and long-term reinvestment fund.

"These long-term plans could be catalytic projects that will significantly increase taxpayer value and economic impact to the Old Townsite," Cole said.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grass Fire Comes Dangerously Close to Pearland Homes

Orginally posted by: Caron Brookens/39 News

February 2, 2009

Dry weather conditions are posing a real fire danger for most of Southeast Texas. Monday afternoon, a grass fire burned dangerously close to a Pearland neighborhood.

It happened at the Canterbury Park subdivision where flames spread right up to the backyard fences of homes on Trent Cove Lane. George Mellis said before firefighters arrived, some residents took matters into their own hands.
"When I went to the backyard, it was flames in the field, and luckily my next door neighbor
Alan, he was out with the hose trying to keep the flames from getting to our fence lines,"
said Mellis.

Another neighbor, Glenn Patterson said, "I heard the fire engines come and then my niece came in from school and said something about the field being on fire, and I looked in the yard, and you could see the smoke just covering the back."
Pearland volunteer firefighters told residents they could leave or stay while they fought back the flames. Firefighters made sure the fire did not reach homes, and winds eventually helped push the flames out of inhabited areas.

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