By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
A warrant was issued Thursday afternoon for the arrest of a Clovis man in connection with the death of his mother.
Dwight Wagner, 55, is charged with an open count of murder. He’s accused of bludgeoning his 75-year-old mother Essie Thomas to death in her home at 716 Grand Ave., District Attorney Matthew Chandler said.
“It’s too hard to believe,” Emma Archie, Thomas’ niece, said Wednesday at the scene of the crime. “She stood by him … She was always there for him. She dedicated her life to the Lord and her son. She was a wonderful lady.”
Wagner lived in an adjacent apartment to his mother. He was arrested soon after his mother’s body was discovered late Tuesday afternoon, initially on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and tampering with evidence, police said.
Family members contacted police earlier Tuesday after having trouble reaching Thomas. When police arrived to investigate, Wagner was seen leaving the house, Clovis police Detective Roger Grah said. Police found Thomas dead in the bathroom of her home.
After leaving the scene, Wagner traveled to the 300 block of Thornton Street, where a resident called police because Wagner was on the caller’s property, Chandler said.
Police arrived and arrested Wagner, who told police he had swallowed 10 rocks of crack cocaine. Wagner was taken to the hospital. Grah said blood was discovered on Wagner’s clothing when he arrived at the hospital.
Chandler said he expected Wagner to be released from the hospital Thursday night and taken to the Curry County Adult Detention Center. He will likely be arraigned Monday and scheduled to face a grand jury within 10 days of the arraignment, Chandler said.
Thomas’ oldest sister, Estine Garrett, 81, said she will have to rely on her faith to help her through this time.
“I hate that (it) happened to her and everything like that, cause she’s my sister, but I just have to trust in the Lord that he’ll give me strength to cope with it,” she said.
Family members said Wagner had trouble with drugs and had been to rehabilitation in the past.
Chandler commended the police for their fast action.
“Really, the credit goes to the Clovis Police Department and concerned family and neighbors of the victim,” he said. “The officers that were on the scene were quick on their feet.”
Authorities are still working with the Office of the Medical Investigator to determine the exact time of death.