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Murder suspect captured in Arkansas

Three weeks to the day from the June 8 murder of Jonathan Young in Pacific Park, suspect Tilton Joshua Isaiah Mapps, 20, of Greenville was apprehended in Fort Smith, Ark.

Shortly after the murder, Sulphur Springs Police Det. David Gilmore contacted Texas Ranger John Vance who, in turn, sought assistance from the U.S. Marshal's Service in locating the murder suspect.

“They were very instrumental, the Marshal's Service out of Sherman, in Mapps being arrested in Fort Smith, Ark.,” Gilmore said. “It was like we had trained together and we had never met. It just came together.”

Gilmore gave credit to federal officers in locating the wanted man.

“It wasn't a lead that led us to him, it was the Marshal's Service doing their diligence on surveillance,” he said. “They called Ranger Vance and me yesterday morning and said, ‘We think we know where he might be here in Fort Smith.’”

Both Vance and Gilmore immediately left for Fort Smith, where they met briefly with U.S. Marshals there as well as Fort Smith detectives. They orchestrated a “gauntlet” around the small apartment complex the suspect was thought to be in and made the arrest about 1:45 p.m.

“[Mapps] had some help,” Gilmore said. “They actually had a decoy car pull up into the complex after they spotted what they figured were police and had a person go out and get into a car and take off. They probably wanted all of us to follow them — a few did and found out he was not in that car.

“Then a second car pulls up, [Mapps] exits the apartment, gets in the back seat, lays down and actually pulls a pink swimming floatie on top of him to hide,” Gilmore continued. “He got about a half block down the road and the Marshal's Service and detectives with Fort Smith police, Ranger Vance and I converged. Through tattoos we were able to identify him and, of course, he admitted as to who he was.”

Gilmore said Mapps did not offer resistance when he was apprehended.

Mapps' girlfriend, Tressa Makin, who was named in warrants for hindering apprehension, was also taken into custody and both were taken to the Fort Smith jail.

“We interview Mapps and he confessed to the shooting of Jonathan Young in Pacific Park back on June 8,” the detective said. “We also interviewed Tressa Makin and she provided some additional information.”

Although Mapps confessed to the murder and is in custody, Gilmore said the murder investigation is still underway.

“The nuisance of him still being out on the street was, not only were we trying to work the homicide — and there were several agencies helping us do that — we had the added burden of he's still on the street,” the detective explained. “A lot of times on a homicide, we get people in custody fairly quickly. He was gone from Sulphur Springs, we think, 10 minutes after the murder.”

Mapps, Gilmore suspects, may have been in Fort Smith for some time.

“Yesterday was three weeks, to the day, from the homicide and that's a significant amount of time to be out on the run,” he said. “He had help from people. We've made one arrest and we will be looking at some other people to get additional warrants on. We are also looking at possibly talking with the U.S. Attorney in Arkansas about additional charges on Mapps for crossing state lines to avoid prosecution.”

Both Mapps and Makins are being held in Arkansas pending possible extradition proceedings before being returned to Hopkins County.

Independence Day Celebration

Sulphur Springs Symphony League hosts the 24th Annual Independence Day festival and fireworks spectacular Saturday evening on Celebration Plaza. Dr. Douglas Bakenhus lead Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra in an evening of patriotic music. See page 10 in Monday's News-Telegram for more photos from Saturday’s Independence Day Celebration.

Bids for Civic Center Auditorium top $4 million; SSISD, county extend lease agreement

School trustees Friday afternoon gave the go-ahead for contract bids, which will allow renovation of the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center Auditorium to really get under way starting Monday.


SSISD offering online registration help July 3, 13 and 30

In its effort to cut down on the amount of paper used by the district and the number of forms parents are required to replicate each year, SSISD’s back-to-school registration will be conducted exclusively online for all students who attended classes at a Sulphur Springs campus in the previous school


Tomato Festival opens before concert, fireworks

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After record-breaking spring rain, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service is hosting the Hopkins County Tomato Festival at Sulphur Springs City Hall on Saturday evening before the 4th of July celebration.

“The whole reason for this festival is to promote gardening. It’s an afternoon to come out and enjoy everyone with like interests. Even if you do not have tomatoes to enter in the contest, the Master Gardeners will be there to answer your questions about anything related to gardening,” said Hopkins County Extension Agent Mario Villarino. “Saturday was the best time to hold the festival. For tomatoes, the flowering process stops after temperatures exceed 90 degrees.” 

The main portion of the Tomato Festival with be judging in two contests,  growing and recipe contest. The contests are further divided into classes and age categories. 

In the growing category, tomatoes will be divided into cherry, pear, large red and Goliath. Each participant has to bring three perfect tomatoes for the class they are entering. All three tomatoes will be inspected on similarities and quality. 

“Our new classification will be the Goliath category. We are going to weigh the tomatoes and the biggest entry will get the award. The Goliath tomato does not have to be perfect, but it does have to be a Big Boy tomato. I think this category will spice up the contest a little,” said Villarino. “This is the third year we are having the Tomato Festival and last year we had a dozen entries. I am hoping for more this year.”

The second part of the Tomato Festival is the recipe contest. Anyone can enter in the main dish, side dish or salsa classes. Tomatoes need to be the primary ingredient in each dish. There with also be age divisions: 12 years old and younger, 13 to 18 years, and 19 years and older.

“People can bring anything from salsa to something a little more complicated,” said Villarino. “Not everybody knows that tomatoes come in all sizes and colors. People are used to seeing the round red tomato in the grocery store but there are blue, yellow and black tomatoes.”  

Villarino specializes in growing his tomato crop in buckets. Earlier this year, he helped Sulphur Springs Elementary School construct a garden in which they used his bucket system. At the end of the semester, the students harvested their produce and held a salad day for lunch. 

“I am going to bring some of my tomato buckets because it is so cost effective and easy to learn how to do. The buckets can increase food production and save money when people go to the grocery store,” said Villarino.

The festival will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday in the City Hall courtyard. There is no charge to enter in the contest. 

For more information about the festival, call 903-885-3443.   

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