(CBS11 I-TEAM) – It’s been nine months since Christian Hopson, a 26-year-old Dallas woman, was found dead inside the home of a Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Deputy.
The deputy came home after work last May and found signs of forced entry at his back door. Hopson’s body was laying inside his son’s bedroom. She was his son’s girlfriend. And she had his gun in her hand.
An autopsy showed Hopson had been shot in the head. Her blood alcohol level was .24 and she had cuts to her wrist and bruising on her legs.
The Nacogdoches County Sheriff called in the Texas Rangers to investigate, to avoid a conflict of interest.
Hopson’s mother, Lyvera Boyd, says the Rangers immediately told her, her daughter had killed herself.
“And I just thought no, there’s no way. I didn’t raise her like that. She was a very strong woman and she never would have committed suicide,” said Boyd. “She never would’ve taken her own life.”
Hopson had driven to Nacogdoches that weekend to help the restaurant where she used to work. According to friends, she also planned to see her boyfriend, the deputy’s son.
Soon after she arrived, her bosses at the Crater Club sent Hopson to a nearby liquor store to buy supplies. Receipts show she made a purchase there around 5:00 p.m.
The deputy’s son says he met Hopson at a hotel afterwards. The couple apparently argued; he told investigators she left without taking her purse or cell phone.
That was the last time Hopson was seen alive.
Hopson’s coworkers say they called her several times that night, but she never answered.
“She didn’t come back that night, so we expected her the next morning… she wasn’t here,” said club owner Cindy Brady.
The next day, Hopson’s body was found.
That was in May 2016. The Texas Rangers took over the case within hours of Hopson’s death, but the investigation dragged on. After months without answers, Boyd called the CBS11 I-Team for help. Days after the I-Team started asking questions, the Rangers closed the case, ruling Hopson’s death a suicide.
The Rangers have not released their reports, but Nacogdoches County sent CBS11 statements provided by deputies on scene, which detail the first few hours of the investigation.
Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges spoke with the I-Team. “There’s things that could’ve been done differently here but my message is, it would not have changed the outcome of what happened — it would not change the outcome of facts or forensic evidence.”
He was referring to the collection of evidence at the scene. The sergeant who catalogued the evidence was once married to Hopson’s boyfriend — the man whose bedroom was the crime scene.
“There was a decision made before I even showed up on scene, to allow her to continue her duties,” said Bridges. “She was forthcoming about it. She didn’t hide it. She told the Rangers as soon as he arrived. She was supervised the entire time that evidence was collected. She was never by herself.”
Bridges says the marriage lasted only two months while the deputy’s son was serving in the military, and that the relationship ended amicably four years ago. “We’ve never had any issues with this deputy. She has very high integrity and very high marks.”
Catherine Smit-Torrez is a crime scene analyst and former police chief. She says the sergeant should never have been at the scene. “I would have had [her] leave. You just don’t want to give that kind of appearance, that something’s been tainted,” said Smit-Torrez, “It’s ethically the wrong thing to do.”
“I know the appearance of how that looks. It does not look good,” said Bridges, adding, “There is nothing — no evidence other than the appearance of it — that suggests that any evidence was tampered or messed with.”
Smit-Torrez also has questions about how Hopson committed suicide. “It just doesn’t sound logical that someone that drunk could drive to the home, find the tools to break into the home, then find the gun and use the gun to kill themselves.” She says it’s unusual for a right-handed person to shoot themselves in the left side of the head, adding “and it’s not typical for a woman to shoot herself in the head.”
Bridges points to the autopsy report, crime scene photos and a blood-spatter analysis report, which he says are all consistent with a suicide. “I know that [the family] will have a hard time accepting this, probably won’t believe it, but there’s no evidence to support anything else.”
He says the deputy and his family were ruled out as suspects early in the process.
Still, Hopson’s family and friends are not convinced. “You want me to go away quietly like nothing has happened,” said Boyd. “You want me to accept it but I don’t accept this!”
Boyd has hired an attorney, who is working with a private investigator and planning a possible lawsuit.
The deputy and his son did not want to be interviewed for this story.
The Rangers sent the I-Team this statement:
“It is tragic and regrettable anytime there is loss of life. The Texas Rangers conducted a thorough investigation into the death of Christian Hopson at the request of the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office. The medical examiner ruled that the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. After a detailed questionable death investigation, including expert analysis of crime scene evidence, blood spatter analysis, interviews, video surveillance, autopsy results, and other relevant evidence, the Rangers’ report was submitted to the Nacogdoches County District Attorney’s Office for review. The DA’s Office concluded there was no evidence to suggest foul play.
Unless compelling and credible evidence is discovered, the Texas Ranger investigation has been concluded.”