Famed archer's killers remain free a year later

tidemantideman Member Posts: 1,099 ✭✭✭✭
This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle in TEXAS.

March 30, 2004, 5:43AM

Family ups reward in hunt for robbers
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

One sunny morning a year ago, a Cleveland timber company owner went to his office as usual with a briefcase filled with cash.

Charlie Langston, 57, had never feared working alone with the thousands of dollars he needed to reimburse loggers. He kept a loaded gun by his side and was a world champion archer.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of Langston's death. He was killed in a struggle with three robbers a week after he was inducted into the Texas Field Archery Hall of Fame, said his son, Todd Langston, of Cleveland.

The case remains unsolved.

"I can't believe whoever committed this violent crime is still walking around after a year. I doubt whoever (the robbers) victimize next will be able to defend themselves any better," he said.

The victim's sister, Dwana Langston, a 25-year veteran with the Houston Police Department, said she is taking the anniversary of Langston's death hard. She also underwent heart surgery last week.

"He would have given someone the shirt off his back," she said. "But his spirit came out to fight to the death when these men cornered him."

To solve the case, the family has added $20,000 to the $3,000 Crime Stoppers reward offered to anyone who has information that leads to an arrest.

"All we need is one person to come forward who might know something," said Texas Ranger Frank Huff.

The ranger blamed Langston's death on being "outnumbered and outgunned." Langston was armed with a small .38-caliber pistol, while his attackers had a shotgun.

Yet before Langston died, he emptied his gun and fatally wounded one of the robbers. Langston himself was wounded seven times before he collapsed on top of the dead robber, who was later identified as Darrion Ray Randles of Coldspring.

"So many bullets were flying and blood was everywhere," said Todd Langston, 39. "There was such a fight that a door was torn off its hinges. I can't understand why nobody heard anything."

The small frame house converted into Langston Timber Co. on FM 2025 was within a few hundred feet of other businesses, and the robbery occurred about 10:30 a.m. on a weekday.

But the one bystander who heard the shots thought it was only a car backfiring, officials said.

Langston's Ford pickup, dark blue with a tan stripe, was stolen by the robbers and later abandoned on a logging road off FM 2025 near the San Jacinto County line. Langston's briefcase, $3,500 in cash and a collectible 1911 gun from Springfield Armory have never been recovered.

The crime scene was checked for fingerprints but nothing was found, said Huff. Randles was wearing gloves.

Huff recently obtained a DNA sample from "a person of interest" who is being checked against blood and other specimens found inside Langston's car and business.

Another possible clue to the crime was an early morning telephone call that Langston's wife overheard, asking Langston to come to work early, the family said. The caller, authorities said, has so far refused to talk to investigators.

This was not the first attempt to steal money from Langston's business, the family said. Three months before his death, a woman collected $69,000 on bogus tickets for timber sales. The woman, Peggy Louise Sparks, has since been sentenced to prison for the theft, Huff said.

While the family is suspicious that the theft could be connected to Langston's killing, Huff said he has not found any evidence of it.

Whoever killed Langston also killed a legend, his son said.

"When you ask most archers in the National Field Archery Association that competed at the national level during the 1980s, you would be hard pressed to find any that had never heard of Charlie Langston," the Texas Field Archery Association stated on its Web site.

Between 1978 to 1989, Langston won an "astounding eight national championships" in field archery for freestyle and bowhunter freestyle, the association said. He also won the only world championship in which he ever competed in New York, the association said.

"Some of his records still stand," Todd Langston said. "He was the first to shoot over 500 points, which is equivalent to running the 4-minute mile."

Langston set six Texas Field Archery Association records, five of which are still standing, association records show.

"He loved hunting and the outdoors," Dwana Langston said. "Our family had been in the logging industry for generations."

The family asks anyone with information to call Cleveland Police at 281-592-0800.


Sign In or Register to comment.