A few days after we shared a dinner table, Janel Bernard, 79, was beaten and stabbed to death by a parolee
On July 3, 79-year-old Janel Bernard was brutally murdered in her Hedwig Village home. Just a few days before, Janel and I shared a dinner table during my sister’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Because there were no signs of forced entry, the police believed the killer was someone she knew. The police were right.
On Tuesday the Hedwig Police announced that Janel’s killer was in custody. The killer turned out to be Michael Susberry, a 55-year-old black parolee who is the son of Janel’s former longtime housekeeper. Susberry confessed to the murder, saying he headbutted the victim, then beat her up before stabbing her to death.
Police were able to ID Susberry because he used his bus pass to get to and from Janel’s home. Among other evidence, a surveillance camera had placed him near the scene of the crime.
The Houston Police Department assisted Hedwig police by processing the crime scene and Janel’s car, and by lending the small department one of their detectives.
Moteel Susberry, the killer’s 89-year-old mother, retired as Janel’s housekeeper five or six years ago but Janel continued to issue her a check each month. Michael Susberry would come by to pick up the checks. That’s why Janel let him in on that fateful day.
On July 5, Moteel Susberry told ABC 13:
“I hope they catch whoever did it and stab them, but before they die, before they send them to the pen or whatever, they need to be sent to the back of the pen by they self for life with no parole. That’s what need to happen. Or let me get ahold of ’em and I fix ’em.”
Now Susberry’s mother says she does not believe her son is the killer.
Susberry has an extensive record of arrests for violent crimes. In 1985 he was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated robbery but he was paroled after serving only 20 years. In 2015, he was convicted of aggravated assault for which he spent almost one year in jail. However, Susberry’s parole was not revoked.
“He’s been in and out of the penitentiary his entire life,” Hedwig Village Police Chief David Gott said. “It doesn’t appear as though he has ever done anything worthwhile since he has been alive on this earth.”
I wonder what kind of parole supervision, if any, this worthless piece of shit got? Had Susberry’s parole been revoked upon his 2015 aggravated assault conviction, Janel would still be alive today.
As a former California parole officer, I have been a longtime critic of the Texas parole system. I’ve been concerned about how Texas parolees are supervised.
The main purpose of parole is to protect the public from criminals, not to serve the parolees. That requires strict supervision of parolees with surprise home visits, often during the hours of darkness. That’s not the way it’s being done in Texas.
The Texas parole system is in bad need of an overhaul. Otherwise it’s all but worthless.
It appears the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole Board has about as much influence as the Texas Pension Review Board when it comes to oversight of their respective concerns. Okay concerns is the wrong term. How about respective realms of the description of their neglected responsibilities.
Somebody’s name must be associated with the revocation in 2015. It would be interesting to know who it is.
Howie Katz says
DanMan, it would be Susberry’s parole officer. He should have recommended a parole revocation. If he did not, his supervisor should have done so. Apparently neither did.
If you look at the chart at the top, there is a reason for the increase in paroles and the decrease in revocations. It’s all about reducing the prison population in order to save money.
Parole officers all over the country are being pressured to keep their parolees on the street, but I doubt that applies to those who, like Susberry, commit violent crimes while on parole. I cannot envision the Board of Pardons and Parole turning down a recommendation that Susberry’s parole be revoked had they received one.
Believe me, I know something about how parolees should be supervised and under what circumstances their parole should either be continued or revoked. And from what I’ve learned over the years, the Texas parole system is a Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. system in which parolees are required to visit the parole office periodically and where field visits are done by appointment, and not on a surprise basis. That just simply is all but worthless.
It’s all about the almighty dollar. School funding needs to be fixed, CPS needs an overhaul and property taxes need to be addressed. We are sending so many DPS Troopers to the border that they are running into each other. Troopers are collecting exorbitant overtime that is eagerly funded by legislators for political favor with voters. Pardons and parole need to be addressed but the squeaky wheel gets the grease and now the border is getting a lube job while other problems suffer.
Howie, I’m sorry to hear about your friend.