Residents relieved after arrests in Chunn case

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

With arrests made in a two-year-old murder investigation, Causey residents are expressing relief. At the same time they’re sobered by the fact that those accused lived in their tiny community.

District Attorney Matt Chandler announced Monday that federal indictments had been handed down against two men from the Causey area.

Those indictments charged Donald Taylor, 27, of Rogers with racketeering and murder in connection with the death of Jimmy “Bo” Chunn, 71, a Causey rancher. Billy Joe Watson, 42, was charged with racketeering as well, and both are charged with conspiracy in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

Chandler would not comment on how Watson was connected to the July 2005 homicide.

Taylor has been in police custody since July 2005 on unrelated charges, according to Chandler. Watson was arrested Monday.

Chunn’s body was found in his Causey-area living room on July 8, 2005. Investigators say he was killed by a single gunshot through a window of his home. They believe Chunn died several days before his body was found.

Chunn’s daughter, Karen Chandler of Portales, said Watson was a longtime friend of the family and she said she’s struggling to deal with that.

“We’re just very pleased that they’ve made an arrest,” Karen Chandler said.

Causey resident Kris King said he had done odd jobs for Chunn and had bought hay from Watson, but he said he wasn’t really acquainted with Taylor.

King said he was relieved that indictments had been issued but he was kind of surprised by Watson’s arrest.

“It’s been a long time and you keep it in the back of your mind,” King said of the investigation into Chunn’s death.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said because the indictments are under federal seal he can’t comment on the case. He also said some elements of the investigation are continuing.

“We’re glad that it’s kind of getting to an end,” Hooker said. “The biggest thing it’s going to do for us is give some peace of mind to our community. That unknown was a constant drain on my staff as well as the unanswered questions.”

Hooker said while the community will have answers to some of its questions about the crime, other questions are going to be raised. He said closure might take a while.

“Maybe it will be the beginning of the road to get over this,” Hooker said.

Hooker acknowledged the case clouded the sheriff’s election last year and said that is unfortunate. He praised the work of his predecessor, Tom Gossett, in investigating the case.

Karen Chandler said while the length of the investigation has been difficult for the family, she is appreciative of the efforts of Gossett’s and Hooker’s administrations as well as the help of the Portales Police Department and district attorney’s staff.

“Law enforcement officials have done a great job,” she said.