Elroy Chester, 43, was executed by lethal injection on 12 June 2013 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a man and rape of two girls during a burglary of their home.
On 6 February 1998, Chester, then 28, was walking through a Port Arthur neighborhood, searching for a house to burglarize. He had with him a pair of gloves, a knitted hat in which he had cut two eyeholes, wire cutters, and a gun he had stolen in a previous burglary. He had scratched the serial number off of the gun.
That night, Erin DeLeon, 17, was at home alone with her one-year-old son, Tony. They lived with Erin's mother, Kim DeLeon, and Erin's sisters, Claire and Sasha. After Erin put Tony to bed, she spoke briefly on the phone with her boyfriend. She then began watching a movie in the living room.
When Chester reached the DeLeon home, he recognized it as one he had burglarized previously. He watched Erin through the open blinds. Seeing that she was alone, he went around the side of the house and cut the phone lines. He checked the side door and found it unlocked. He then put on his mask and gloves and entered the house. He walked through the kitchen into the living room. He then grabbed Erin by her ponytail, held the gun to her head, and demanded money or jewelry. Erin said they had a little jewelry, but no money. Still holding her by the hair, Chester led Erin around the house to confirm that no one else was home. He then took jewelry from Erin's room and from her mother and sisters' rooms. He had her turn off all of the lights in the house and had her lock the outside door by the kitchen.
Chester then took Erin into the garage, still pulling her by her hair. He felt around the dark garage, looking for something. Erin offered to turn on the lights, but he refused. He felt around until he found a roll of duct tape. He then took her back inside the house.
As they were returning inside, Claire, 14, was arriving home with her boyfriend, Tim. They attempted to enter through the side door, which was now locked. Claire knocked on the door. Chester ordered Erin to unlock it and let her in. When Claire entered the house, Chester pushed Erin forward and yelled at Claire to not say anything, or he would "blow her [Erin's] head off." Claire began babbling, and Erin tried to quiet her.
From outside, Tim heard Claire and asked her what was wrong. Chester ordered Claire to tell him nothing was wrong, and he should leave. Claire complied, but Tim persisted in staying. Chester then told Tim to come inside. Tim asked if he could turn off his car engine first. Chester said yes, but told him he would kill both girls if he attempted to leave. Tim turned off the engine and entered the house.
Still holding Erin by her ponytail, Chester demanded jewelry or money from Claire and Tim. They said they had none, and Tim showed him his empty wallet. Claire went to her mother's bedroom to confirm that there was no more jewelry in he house. When Claire returned, Chester asked Tim what kind of car he had, and whether it had an automatic or standard transmission. He then ordered Claire and Tim into the bathroom.
Now alone with Erin in the dining room of the dark house, Chester told her to remove her clothing. She removed her outer clothing. Chester tried to remove Erin's bra, then had her do it. He removed her panties himself. He then made her kneel, wearing only her socks. He used the duct tape to blindfold her.
Chester then called for Tim to come out of the bathroom. He made Tim remove all of this clothing except for his underwear and socks. He blindfolded Tim with the duct tape and also bound his wrists and ankles. He then dragged Tim into Erin's bedroom.
Next, Chester returned to the dining room and ordered Claire to come. She removed her clothes, as he ordered. He then blindfolded her with the duct tape and seated her on the floor next to Erin. Erin removed the tape over her eyes enough to see Chester unzipping his pants and removing his mask, but he pushed the tape back down over her eyes.
Chester then raped Erin on the floor. Afterward, she got up and sat on a chair. Chester then made Erin, then Claire, perform oral sex on him. With each girl, he held the gun to her head and threatened to shoot her if she bit him.
At this point, Kim DeLeon's brother, Billy Ryman, drove up. Ryman frequently came over to the house to check on his nieces when their mother was at work. Chester dressed himself, ran into the kitchen, and waited by the door. Ryman opened the door and turned on the light. Chester yelled at him to come inside. When he did, Chester shot him. Ryman fell to the ground. Chester ran out of the house. Claire then got up and locked the door. Chester tried to come back inside, but he couldn't.
Ryman's girlfriend, Marcia Sharp, was waiting in Ryman's truck in the driveway. She heard a loud pop, but thought perhaps it was a car backfiring. Moments later, she saw Chester run out of the house and then try to go back in. Chester then ran toward the passenger side of the truck. Sharp locked it just as Chester reached for the handle. Wearing his mask again, he shot once at the lock on the car door. He then noticed that the driver's door was unlocked, so he ran around to that side of the truck. Sharp quickly reached over and locked that door, too. Chester shot twice at the lock on the driver's side, but it did not open. He then stepped back, looked at Sharp, and fired twice through the driver's window. She was not hit. Chester then ran down the street.
After his arrest, Chester told investigator Timothy Smith that he would take him to the gun used in the murder. Smith and four other investigators accompanied Chester to his father's house. Chester was wearing handcuffs and leg restraints, which were both chained to his waist. Smith told Chester that he would not be able to touch or handle the gun, but Chester insisted that it was well-hidden in a place only he could reach, and assured them it was not loaded. He kept attempting to move ahead of Smith and the others. When they reached his bedroom, Chester moved a nightstand underneath a hole in the ceiling and quickly attempted to climb the nightstand when he was told to stop. Investigator Rose then climbed the nightstand and reached in the direction Chester instructed him to, but was unable to locate the gun. Chester then climbed the nightstand and, while continuing to direct Rose to search in one direction, attempted to reach in the other direction with his shackled hands. Investigator Smith then drew his gun on Chester and ordered him to be still and get down. Smith then climbed the nightstand and retrieved the loaded gun from where Chester had tried to reach.
While in custody, Chester confessed to at four other murders over the preceding six months. Using wire cutters, a mask, a flashlight, and a gun, he entered the home of John Sepeda, 78, and his wife on 20 September 1997 while they slept. When Sepeda woke up and approached him, Chester shot and killed him. He robbed Sepeda's wife of her ring before he left. He similarly burglarized Etta Stallings' home on 15 November 1997 while she and her husband were sleeping, and shot and killed the 87-year-old woman after she woke up and attempted to draw a gun on him. Five days later, he waited in a storage shed for a former co-worker, Cheryl DeLeon, 40, to come home and shot her in the head during a struggle. He also murdered his brother-in-law, Albert Bolden, 35, on 21 December 1997 by staging a burglary of a home Chester knew to be vacant. When Bolden walked in the home in front of him, Chester shot him in the back of the head. He told police he killed Bolden for beating his sister and for setting him up on a date with someone who turned out to be a transvestite.
Chester also confessed to four other non-fatal shootings and to anally raping a 10-year-old girl. According to the Texas Attorney General's office, he burglarized a total of 25 homes in the year preceding Ryman's murder.
In addition to Chester's confession and the witness testimonies, Chester was connected to Billy Ryman's murder through DNA evidence and ballistics testing.
Chester pleaded guilty to Ryman's murder. Against the advice of his attorneys, Chester took the stand at his punishment hearing. He stated that he had "a whole lot of fun" burglarizing homes. He said he wanted to kill "white folks", that he wished he'd killed more victims and that the DeLeon girls were "lucky they ain't dead." He told jurors that if they sentenced him to death, he would order his "homeboys" to kill a Port Arthur police officer. If they gave him a life sentence, he would kill a guard in prison.
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