A man, deep in debt, hides in the woods of East Texas for several months, stealing from the residents of a small community:
Few residents were willing to discuss the run of break-ins—the sheriff estimates at least 35 in all—that spanned most of 2013. Dyes Kountry Katfish, the last spot in town where locals might gather to gossip about the mystery over iced teas and fried lunch, went out of business in 2011. But privately, in homes or at the school nearby in Woden, residents spun their theories. Popular opinion first blamed delinquent youth on spring break; investigators even pulled kids out of classrooms for questioning. The sheriff’s department rushed out for calls about suspicious vehicles that could be the thieves’ getaway cars. Deputies patrolled Melrose at night in unmarked cars and called in the Texas Department of Public Safety to fly over the area. But the break-ins continued—cars, homes and abandoned trailers—without a sign of the culprit. Cash and Social Security cards disappeared from wallets, but oddly, not checks or credit cards. The thief plucked food, guns and other tools of the outdoors from their homes, but perhaps most disturbingly, he robbed residents of the secluded security they prized above all.