New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 6, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas
Sunday, August 6, 2000 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 5A '
MISSING/From 1APAY HIKES/From 1A
go horseback riding Tuesday and Schumann agreed to take him, but first they had to go find themselves horses. The horses on the Schumann ranch roam, like the pigs, the cattle, the turkeys and the deer.
“We went way to the back because I figured Icl find the horses out in this one part of the property,” Schumann said. “But we found something else.”
They sure did. Schumann and his 11-year-old buddy who wanted to go riding walked most of a mile out to a remote spot where stands of cedar dotted what had probably once been pasture.
They had to climb over a fallen tree and skirt a couple of stone walls put up by Schumann’s ancestors — he’s of the fourth generation of the family that has lived on the property off Elm Creek Road since New Braunfels was settled by German immigrants. They also walked by the awful, matted, black-and-white hide and scattered skeleton of a cow that had laid down and died.
The brush was getting a little thick, and then the pair walked into an area between some cedars, and there was another bunch of bones strewn across the little clearing.
For just a moment, Schumann thought it was merely another animal.
“I walked right up to it. The hip, the legs were there,” he said. “We have dead cows, dead goats up here, but when I saw that skull lying kind of sideways right there and I saw' those eyes — it was like, whoa! I knew it was somebody.”
Unfortunately, Schumann said, he had an 11 -year-old boy right there with him when he made the macabre discovery.
“I was totally in shock. I had to catch myself. I didn’t know' what I was thinking of,” he said.
Schumann tried to downplay the discovery and told his young friend they had to get back to the ranch house, where he would find his father, Jerome Schumann, reading letters and doing his paperwork.
“I lere I w as, with a I ()-, 11 -year-old boy who wanted to go horseback riding. I let him think what he wanted. I didn’t want to get him all stirred up.”
‘“What about the horses?”’ Schumann recalled Michael asking him.
“I told him they’d be there when we got to the house, because that’s the way it always seems to work: you go looking way out back for them, and they’re at the barn when you get back. And sure enough, that was the way it worked out.”
But they wouldn't get to go riding Tuesday.
Schumann and the boy took a longer route back to the house, he said, following old roads much of the way, because he needed time
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K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Richard Schumann points out the spot where he discovered the remains believed to be those of Roger McCown.
to think: to digest what he had seen.
He approached his father, Jerome Schumann, 91, at the table, and told him he’d found a body out on the ranch.
“My father’s hearing’s a little hard” Schumann said. “He thought I’d said I’d found a car body out there. I told him, ‘No, it’s Roger McCown.’”
They knew they had to call the sheriff’s office. This was about lunchtime on Tuesday.
Much of the rest of Richard Schumann’s day was taken up escorting groups of detectives and investigators to the site.
McCow n was subject of an intensive search after he was noticed missing on Sept. IO,
1999. Schumann estimated that 40 officers with bloodhounds and a helicopter searched the property for a few days without finding anything.
But where the bones were found the only way the body could have been seen from a helicopter would have been if it had a glass floor and the officers could have looked straight down between the cedars along a pretty narrow, vertical sight line. Looking out the front or down from the side w indows, there would have been no way to see McCown.
A public safety official said this past week he believed he’d walked within a few yards of the spot last September. The Schumanns have hunters on.the property who return, year upon year. “There are some good bucks out here,” Schumann said.
And Schumann could have walked nearby, too, he acknow 1-edged.
Schumann said he, his family and McCown s family, who came dow n from Ohio to help, concentrated most of their efforts in the wooded areas closer to the house.
The distance from the house and the trailer where McCown had lived not far from the house was estimated to be about 7/1 Os of a mile by the detectives, and
that distance argued against McCown having wandered that far,
“The man wouldn’t go anywhere. He couldn’t really. He doesn’t like
to walk at all,” Schumann said of McCown. “I was looking a little closer to home.”
Schumann doesn’t understand quite what happened to McCown, but he has some ideas. McCown, who Schumann described as “a very good man,” was also “very, very ill,” he said.
“He was all right mentally, but only if he took all his medicine,” Schumann said.
Much of the time, McCown didn’t like to go to medical appointments, and he had one scheduled the day he was found missing.
Still, the things Schumann understands from the bits he’s heard of the investigation leave him a little puzzled. All of McCown’s property and clothing were found in the trailer except maybe for a sheet and a towel, Schumann said.
Schumann said he was glad McCow n s been found, and the thing is over so the man’s exwife, son and daughter could have some closure.
“My thing is I want the family to feel at rest,” Schumann said. “I know his daughter was very close to him. It broke her heart. I want his soul to be at peace.”
the third floor of the courthouse that salaries could go higher
The pay for the county treasurer and county commissioners — but not the county judge — will go up, if commissioners approve. Danny Scheel, county judge, said he wanted to see the raises implemented.
In this past year’s budget, commissioners’ salaries were raised about 4 percent. At that time, Scheel said he would be looking for raises again this year.
As a former commissioner, Scheel said he knew commissioners easily work 50 and 60 hours in a week — plus attend social engagements, ribbon-cuttings, club luncheons and other events commissioners are expected to attend.
The Texas Association of Counties publishes a list of the salaries of elected officials. In the 23 counties with populations between 50,000 to 99,999, the salaries of elected commissioners range this year from a low of $19,056 in Potter County in the Panhandle to a high of $55,703 in Victoria County, with a population of roughly 80,000.
In Comal County, commissioners are paid $35,866, which in spite of its population near the middle of the list with 70,682 residents, places it near the bottom. Only three counties of the 23 counties pay less than Comal.
Most counties, Scheel said, do not grapple with the kinds of growth, air and water issues that Comal does, being on the northern border of Bexar County, home of the 10-largest city in the country.
Scheel proposed to raise the salaries of commissioners to just below the median for counties in
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that size group at $39,884. Comal then will come in at 13th on the list as opposed to 19th.
“I feel if we’re going to have qualified people in these positions and truly open them to everybody, we have to pay a decent salary,” Scheel said. “These are no longer part time jobs. A commissioner’s job is a fulltime position — plus.”
Scheel’s move to put the raise in the county budget places commissioners in the position of having to vote to give themselves a raise, but there is no other mechanism under Texas law' for giving them one.
This past year, a scandal erupted in Guadalupe County when commissioners voted themselves a 19 percent raise after warning they would be seeking something on the order of 3 percent.
Political fallout continues over that in Guadalupe County — but there is also an opinion issued by the state Attorney General’s office that suggests the raise proposal was not properly advertised and voted upon.
Scheel and Renken agreed that the system as it existed put pressures on commissioners.
“It sounds like a big raise,” Renken said, if one is not up on the figures and how they’re arrived at.
“But they’ve been left behind for so long.”
Sheriff Bob Holder plans to spend an additional $200,000 in an enlarged jail facility now under construction. In the remainder of the sheriff’s department, expenditures will increase $500,000 this year, Renken said.
Holder w ill get five new deputies. A deputy’s starting salary is $25,400, but that does not tell the full story of what it takes to put a law enforcement officer on the road, Renken said. Taxes and benefits as well as the cost of patrol car and the equipment also need to be paid for. A new deputy w ith the new car and equipment can cost about $55,000.
Tile district attorney and all levels of the court systems will see increases that total $200,000.
Another $150,000 will go to computer services for memory upgrades and peripherals.
The rural fire and emergency service districts will see reduced budgets from the county ranging from $2,000 to $6,500, but with property taxes to be levied in the districts, all will see increased revenues in 2001, ranging from $6,329 to $16,729.
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