Witness claims suspect in 1988 cold case confessed to killing

A 63-year-old Warren man, who police believed they had linked through DNA testing to a 1988 cold case murder of a Silsbee woman, has accepted a plea deal.

Daniel Andrew MacGinnis was handed a 20-year prison sentence Tuesday as part of the agreement in exchange for a guilty plea to the murder of Patricia Ann Jacobs. He had previously pleaded not guilty to the first-degree felony offense.

“I am just happy there is some closure for the family,” State Prosecutor Mike Laird told The Enterprise Tuesday afternoon. “They have been waiting 34 years for this man to admit what he did to their mother and that is what was important to us. The outcome was important for that matter, to give them some closure and justice.”

RELATED: Senior accused in cold case experiences medical issue during trial

It was the third day in the trial, which had been in recess since Sept. 14 due to MacGinnis experiencing a medical issue. The senior faced five to 99 years or up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine for the offense.

“I just don’t care anymore,” MacGinnis said on Tuesday afternoon before the attorneys and Judge John S. Stevens Jr. “I don’t want to embarrass my family anymore, and I don’t want to be here anymore…”

Jacobs appeared to have been hit by a blunt-force object at least five times in the head before she drowned in the Neches River in Port Arthur, where she was ultimately found on October 6, 1988, according to the pathologist who reviewed Jacobs’ autopsy report during the trial.

MacGinnis has been involved in multiple similar investigations and convicted cases since 1984, including in Texas and California. The defense argued on Tuesday prior to the decision to plead guilty that Jacobs could have slipped on rocks and fell in the water.

After MacGinnis accepted the state’s offer, Jacobs’ daughter and Southeast Texas resident Kim Charlton told MacGinnis about the impact his decision still has on her family today. MacGinnis was indicted in 2019, a year after Charlton and her sister contacted Texas Ranger Brandon Bess to request an update on the investigation.

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“The thought of her fighting for her fighting for her life and screaming out for help has been unbearable,” Charlton said. “Even worse was knowing the last face she saw was yours. We have not made peace with this, and we do not forgive you.”

“I do know that you will meet your final judgement, and it will not be in this courtroom,” she continued. “You will have to answer for everything that you have ever done in your miserable life. Then and only then will our mom rest in peace.”

MacGinnis’ decision to plead guilty followed the testimony of at least 10 witnesses, including friends of Jacobs who were present at the Silver Star Tavern the night she disappeared, the original detective on the case who retraced the steps of the investigation that led to MacGinnis with the help of out-of-county law enforcement communication, and a family friend of MacGinnis who claimed he confessed to a murder.

The friend claimed MacGinnis appeared to be distressed about the case and made a confession to her in November 1988.

“He told me that he had killed someone,” the woman said.

The woman said MacGinnis allegedly denied that it was an accident, but he did not provide the details of murder — only laying down a pistol in response to her question about how he had killed the person. He later left town and sent her letters about a plan to leave the country, she said. The letters were presented as evidence during the trial.

“I was just shocked,” the woman said. “It was very surreal for me.”

RELATED: Affidavit: DNA from clothing linked Warren man to long-unsolved murder

Defense Lawyer Wendell Radford said MacGinnis’s prison sentence will run concurrently with two previous cases out of Tyler County. Those cases resulted in a 99-year and life sentence for firearm and drug charges.

Radford could not comment further on any conversations that he had with MacGinnis, but he did have a concern about the trial.

“Mr. MacGinnis has some very serious health problems,” Radford said. “I don’t think he is going to live very long. That was a major concern. He had an episode last week where they had to take him to the hospital in ambulance, and he has been hospitalized on numerous occasions pending trial.”

At one point, MacGinnis said he did not want to have a heart attack in the court room by moving forward with the trial. But the state was not buying his concern.

“He uses every excuse, he always has, just like his medical issue that he had the other day,” Laird said. “We are not really convinced it was a serious medical issue. He is just playing games in my opinion.”

Laird said that MacGinnis never mentioned any concern about the trial and its impact on Jacobs’ family.

“They ultimately just wanted him to admit what he did,” Laird said. “They have been suffering with this for 34 years. At one time their dad was being blamed by some people, so this was a big deal for them to have him accept responsibility for what he did. … They don’t believe he showed any remorse, but they do believe he accepted responsibility today.”

Afterward, Charlton reminded MacGinnis of a judge in Woodville’s previous words to him: His reign of terror is over.

“Every time you open your eyes, every time you lay down, I hope her screams are the only thing you hear,” she said. “And the more you beg for it to stop, the louder I hope it gets. I hope the torment you put her through comes back to you ten-fold.”

meagan.ellsworth@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/megzmagpie



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