ORANGE COUNTY, Texas — Orange County deputies said the boyfriend of a woman who was found dead at Denbow Mobile Home Park just north of Vidor confessed to her murder.
A murder warrant was issued for Russell Kinney, 38, in connection with the death of Jenny Baxter,45, Baxter's body was discovered Tuesday, March 14, 2023 in the 200 block of FM 1131 near Vidor after officers were called to a welfare check.
Deputies met with the caller who was a neighbor of Baxter. The neighbor told deputies Baxter was wheelchair bound and had a caregiver.
The neighbor said they had not seen Baxter or the caregiver since around Christmas, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by 12News.
"One of them had called for a welfare check because of, you know, it was getting suspicious because she usually at least comes out," Katelynn Johnson, a neighbor said. “You know, I was sad, because you know in your mind you don't want it to be that, but you kind of deep down know."
Deputies checked the residence and did not find Baxter, so they completed a missing person's report. It is no believe Kinney dismantled Baxter's wheelchair.
"If you walk in and don't see a wheelchair, you would think 'Okay it's not here," versus looking for the pieces," Detective Colton Havard said.
A short time later, another call was made to the Orange County Sheriff's Office by family members. The family said they found what they believed to be a human body wrapped in plastic underneath a bed while checking the welfare of Baxter's pets, according to the affidavit.
After obtaining a search warrant, investigators with the assistance of the Texas Rangers and the Jefferson County Crime Lab processed the home for evidence.
During this process, they found what they believed to be the body of Baxter.
Investigators learned from neighbors and family members that Baxter had been in a dating relationship with Kinney. Kinney had been living with Baxter for the past several months, according to the affidavit.
Investigators also learned from neighbors that Kinney was last seen at Baxter's residence about three days before the welfare check call.
Investigators said there was a prior call for service at the address of Baxter's home on December 19, 2022, where she was seen alive by responding deputies.
While it is still unclear how she died, deputies believe Kinney and Baxter got into a fight that turned deadly.
"There was plenty of evidence gathered at the scene leading to the boyfriend, Mr Kinney," Detective Colton Havard said. "It's a tragic situation. Our heart goes out to the family, and this is just a prime example of what domestic violence leads to."
On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, an autopsy was performed at Forensic Medical Management Services in Beaumont on the body. It was then confirmed the body found was Baxter.
Investigators later learned Kinney was stopped in Liberty County Wednesday evening for an unrelated traffic violation and was in the county's jail. They went to Liberty County to speak with him.
Kinney ultimately confessed to the murder of Baxter, according to a release from the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Investigators obtained an arrest warrant, charging him with murder.
Deputies believe Baxter died several weeks ago. They also believe Kinney was using Baxter's phone to communicate with her family to convince them she was alive weeks after her death.
Kinney is still in the Liberty County Jail but will be brought back to Orange County.
Jenny Baxter is the daughter of radio host, columnist and pilot, Gordon Baxter who died in 2005 at 81.
In 2022, Jenny Baxter had book signing for her book "Flying Lessons and Pilot Talk: Gordon Baxter in His Own Words" at the Vidor Public Library.
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From a Orange County Sheriff' Office release:
On Tuesday, March 14th 2023, deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 206 FM 1131 in Vidor, in reference to a wellness check. While searching the residence, deputies located what appeared to be a body wrapped in plastic. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division was called in to further investigate the scene with the assistance of the Texas Rangers and Jefferson County Crime Lab. A search warrant was obtained, and after an autopsy the decedent was later identified as Jenny Baxter. During the investigation, investigators suspected Ms. Baxter’s live in boyfriend, Russell James Kinney, was involved in her death. Investigators later learned Kinney was in custody for an unrelated traffic offense in the Liberty County Jail. Investigators went to the Liberty County Jail and spoke with Kinney. Kinney ultimately confessed to the murder of Jenny Baxter. With the assistance of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, investigators obtained a warrant of arrest, charging Russel James Kinney for murder. Orange County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Texas Rangers, Jefferson County Crime Lab, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, for their assistance in this investigation.
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