Life Without Parole in Capital Murder Case

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – In Feb. 2020, 79-year-old Faye Lynn Paul disappeared. Known to many as, “Aunt Faye,” a silver alert was issued, before being quickly rescinded. Crockett Police Department (CPD) then declared they were looking to find her grand-nephew, David Wayne Denson, a person of interest in the case. 

Only a few days later, Denson was located in Colorado and brought back to Crockett for violating his parole – and to answer questions related to Paul’s disappearance. Denson had been released from jail shortly before Paul’s disappearance, after receiving 10 years of probation for burglary of a habitation.

CPD soon assumed Paul was deceased and asked residents to search local forests and waterways. Denson, still a person of interest, was officially charged with the capital murder of Paul in July, 2020. With COVID intervening and delays getting state prosecutors involved, there the case sat. 

Jury selection in Crockett was well under way and the trial was set for sometime this month. Houston County District Attorney Donna Kaspar had offered Denson’s attorney to discuss some sort of a plea deal – but only if he admitted his guilt and told them the location of Paul’s body. Denson flatly refused, still in jail on his probation violation and pending trial. 

Late last week, for unknown reasons, Denson agreed to admit guilt in the case. Facing the death penalty, Kaspar was not going to give in that quickly and spoke with Paul’s family before making a decision. 

While they wanted justice for “Aunt Faye,” they also wanted closure and to finally know what had happened to her. Kaspar offered Denson life in prison, without the possibility of parole in exchange for the full story and the whereabouts of Paul’s remains – and Denson agreed. 

The saga of CPD and other local law enforcement and their dogged search – for Paul herself – and later for the full story of what happened to her, will be told in next week’s paper. Finding her remains and the investigation itself is one for the record books – with local officers never losing their zeal for finding justice for “Aunt Faye.”

The Messenger can report Faye’s remains were discovered last week, after almost five years of being missing. 

Kaspar released a statement to The Messenger, saying, “After consulting with Aunt Faye’s family, myself and the prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office, Natalie Tise and Marie Primm, agreed to the possible plea if the defendant could in fact tell law enforcement where the body was located and if Aunt Faye was actually recovered. On the afternoon of Thursday, May 30, Chief Clayton Smith and several officers from the Crockett Police Department with the help of the Texas Rangers and several deputies, located and recovered Mrs. Paul’s remains on a property in Weches, Texas, off of CR 1200.”

At Houston County Courthouse Thursday, June 6, Denson was ushered in the room in a dress white shirt and slacks, looking quiet and serious. Facing him were rows of Paul’s grieving family members, ready to hear the whole story and get closure. On the other side sat rows of local law enforcement, emotion in their faces. Finally, their hard work would lead to a conviction and give them and the family an understanding of what had taken place. 

Judge Mark Calhoon called the room to order and asked if Denson understood he would be pleading guilty, in exchange for a potential life sentence, with no chance of parole. Denson said he understood and took the stand to read a prepared statement. 

“What I did was horribly wrong. I have hurt a lot of people, because of my actions. There is no excuse or explanation for what I did,” Denson began. “I’ve told lie after lie because I have been so ashamed for what I did. I’ve come to realize, it’s not about me. It’s about Faye Lynn and her family to hear the truth about what happened. Hopefully, I can bring some closure to you all.”


Denson then described in detail each of his actions in Feb. 2020. He had just gotten out of jail and “Aunt Faye” offered to take him in and get him back on his feet. He asked her to take him to a friend’s house to get some fresh clothes, secretly stealing a drill from her which he sold to buy methamphetamine. 

He told how “Aunt Faye” took him to the grocery store for food; to Palestine to buy some clothes. The next night, both intoxicated and on meth, he waited until she went to sleep, took a crow bar from her garage and struck her, killing her. 

Denson claimed to have lapses in his memory, given the time that had passed and his intoxicated state at the time. He took the body to the back porch, wrapped in a tarp and proceeded to steal jewelry and collector coins from the home. Denson sold these and would eventually get help from his then-girlfriend to partially dismember and bury the body. The girlfriend is currently in prison on those charges. 

Denson then went west to visit family in other parts of Texas, before making his way to Colorado, where he was eventually apprehended. Denson admitted at the time of his arrest he, “told a bunch of lies to (CPD Chief) Clayton Smith and the Texas Rangers that came to see me and I just want to say I’m sorry.”

“That’s the truth of how it happened,” Denson concluded. “I’m not looking for any forgiveness. I don’t expect that from God. I’m sorry for what I did. I know I’ve hurt you all. I realize that is most important.”

His tone was monotone, his emotions never wavered, even when describing in vivid detail the gruesome acts he committed trying to hide his crime. It was chilling, with the courtroom silent, listening to the evil one human can inflict on another. 

The family asked for a representative to speak on behalf of the family. His name will not be given out of respect. 

“I would like to start by thanking everyone involved in bringing Aunt Faye home,” the family member said. “You men and women are steadfast in your jobs. And you have taken our Aunt Faye case personal Our ‘Aunt Faye’ became your ‘Aunt Faye’ through all of this. I know this because you referred to her as ‘Aunt Faye.’ I cannot put into words what this has meant to the family. We all thank you.”

For Denson, however, the verdict from the family was harsh. 

“The family and I have spent four years, three months and 12 days wondering what happened to Aunt Faye. Of course, you knew all along, because you took her from us and placed her in that shallow grave. We want you to know what you have taken from us. Aunt Faye was and still is, loved by her family and many friends,” the family member continued. “Aunt Faye didn’t have children of her own. And this might be why you thought you might get away with this heinous crime against her. But Aunt Faye has so many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews that loved her so very much and still miss her dearly. By the way, you were one of those great-nephews of Aunt Faye and she loved you, too. Or she would have not taken you into her home.”

In moving testimony which brought tears to many an eye that day in that courtroom, the family member turned to the Bible for final judgement and acknowledged Aunt Faye’s continuing role in Denson’s fate. 

“I’m Old Testament. So I went to the Old Testament and in Numbers, Chapter 35, Moses wrote, ‘If anyone strikes someone a fatal blow with an iron object, that person is a murderer. The murderer is to be put to death. It states to not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who deserves to die. They are to be put to death. Your plea is today, June 6. Aunt Faye’s birthday is tomorrow, June 7. She would have been 84 years old tomorrow. I pray God will forgive us for accepting Aunt Faye’s body as ransom for your life. We all know you’re undeserving, but we want to closure for the family. You, young man, need to thank Aunt Faye for your life, because she saved your life by giving her body back to us. She helped you she was living and she’s still helping you here, today.”

Kaspar explained her reasons for accepting a plea deal and taking the death penalty off the table. 

“Although the prosecution team believed a death sentence was the appropriate sentence for Mr. Denson’s actions, we knew that getting Mrs. Paul’s remains to her family was very important to them. We are all extremely happy that they can now lay her to rest properly.”

The Messenger will have full coverage on the multi-year investigation into the murder and the dedication of local law enforcement which finally helped bring Aunt Faye back to her loved ones. 

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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