Today, June 13, 2023, marks the tenth anniversary of a cold-blooded murder that took place in a two-story house located at 10823 Moonlit Meadows Court in the Northwest area of Houston.
In the beginning, the person already knew how to get into the property through an unlocked gate, and the game plan was to sneak through a side door that led into the downstairs master bedroom where a helpless 49-year-old Dennis Jackson was sleeping in bed.
Father Bludgeoned to Death
Time was of the essence for the killer who used a heavy object to deliver quick blows to Dennis’s head that apparently rendered him unconscious and the severe head trauma caused by the beating ultimately put him to death.
Dennis’ infant son, Chase, a one-year-old at the time, remained untouched in his crib, which was placed next to Jackson’s bed.
“My brother was murdered in his own home while his girlfriend’s relatives were upstairs in the house,” said Tania Jackson, Dennis’s oldest sister.
There have been no arrests made and the victim’s family are still waiting for a more in-depth investigation to be done. So far, the motive is rather sketchy. But the Jackson family thinks they know who is responsible and why the murder of their loved one happened.
In most homicide cases the spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend who is the closest to the victim is usually a suspect from the start due to the close relationship. And sometimes even family members are suspects depending on the situation.
Retired Houston Police Homicide investigator Rick Moreno said it is important to begin looking at the people closest to the victim.
“Sometimes the motive for a murder starts with a spouse, someone who had the opportunity to carry it out,” Moreno said during an interview.
A motive can range from extramarital affairs, domestic abuse, unnecessary arguments, and maybe insurance money. While all of these motives are considerable it doesn’t always mean the closest person to a victim is guilty.
When Harris County Sheriff Department Homicide investigators arrived at the scene later that morning they spoke with Trish Hawkins, Dennis Jackson’s live-in girlfriend.
She told Sgt. Felipe Rivera and the deputies assisting with the investigation that she left alone in the middle of the night between ‘1 and 2:a.m.’ to go to a park and think.
She left her mother, children, and Dennis in the house. While at the park Trish said she called a friend to talk. Trish also said the day before that someone tried to carjack her and Dennis as they were preparing to leave the daycare where her children attended.
After leaving the park Trish explained she went to Walmart in the 1960 area to purchase groceries.
Once Hawkins returned home she recalled the sequence of events to investigators.
“I went into the house; I set the groceries down and when I walked down to the bedroom I noticed the door cracked.”
The door in question led into the bedroom where the victim and the one-year-old had been sleeping. Hawkins claimed when she saw the door cracked she saw blood. Investigator asked her if she entered the room, but Hawkins said she hadn’t.
Then she recalled how she scaled upstairs and woke her mother and children telling them what she saw downstairs. Hawkins’s daughter asked where was her one-year-old brother Chase.
The teenage daughter told investigators she rushed downstairs into the bedroom where she saw her mother’s boyfriend’s bloody body in the bed. The teen was petrified as she scooped the infant from the crib and took it to her mother.
What caused her head to spin was the fact the teen said there was a blue or green scarf on the face of the victim Dennis Jackson. Investigators noted there were no direct signs of forced entry or any valuable items stolen.
Harris County Forensic Science Institute ruled that Dennis Jackson died from severe blunt force trauma.
Family in Deep Mourning
“After my father passed, my older brothers stepped up to lead the family,” Lana Jackson, the victim’s younger sister said in an email sent to this reporter.
Dennis, according to Ms. Jackson, “The oldest of my siblings had accepted the bulk of the responsibility as protector. Like Daddy, Dennis was strong in person but even stronger in spirit.”
Lana painfully recalls the day ten years ago when the moment she discovered the worst tragedy of her life.
“I remember it like it was yesterday.”
“It was the summer of 2013, and I had just landed my dream job at a prominent law firm. I was headed to work, and the sun was high in the sky, making it hot and humid – nothing out of the ordinary for Texas weather. This day, however, I recall being increasingly agitated by the sweltering heat. It was an agitation that started hours prior as I remembered waking up and my spirit feeling uneasy and nervous.”
“Then my phone rang. At the other end was my mother. The sheer terror and agony in her voice told me that something was horribly wrong – that something was falling apart.”
“No sooner than I could say hello, my mother screamed, “Dennis is dead!”
Lana said she tried her best to simultaneously breathe and wrap her head around what she’d just heard. “My voice went silent, but my thoughts were screaming.”
“Dennis is not dead. How could he be dead when he’s a master of martial arts? Maybe Mom misunderstood whatever she’d been told. Maybe he killed someone! Dennis is not dead!”
But Dennis Jackson was dead. He had been beaten practically unrecognizable.
Meanwhile, 10823 Moonlit Meadows Court had been declared a full-blown homicide investigation.
Dennis was self-employed as a car detailer and he was a very good mechanic. Relatives told Detectives that Dennis had no known enemies and that he had 10 children.
“Losing my dad hit me very hard,” said Tyishia Satcherwhite, the victim’s daughter. “My dad was taken without a chance to say goodbye. He kept things real with me. I miss his cooking, his laughing, jokes, and made-up raps, and I miss his happiness.” Tyishia says everything is gone all because “someone chose to end his and my happiness.”
Unbeknown to Dennis’ family, his live-in girlfriend Trish Hawkins was pregnant with Dennis’s eleventh child. Although Dennis had been a cigarette smoker he was very athletic and had won a Black Belt in martial arts.
Sheriff investigators compared notes and exchanged theories about what possibly happened. Their suspicion immediately fell on Dennis’s girlfriend Trish Hawkins. “Something didn’t seem right. Things were out of place,” Sgt. Felipe Rivera recalled during a cell phone interview. “You know how you get this hunch about someone but you can’t prove it.”
“First, Trish Hawkins’s story doesn’t quite add up. I am not saying she’s guilty of murder. But I got enough experience in this business to know when something isn’t right.”
Commenting on the piece of cloth placed on the victim’s face, Rick Moreno said this was a sign of someone who didn’t want to see the dead man’s face after killing him. “If the killer was a stranger there was no attachment, no emotional connection, there wouldn’t be no reason to cover a dead person’s face,” Moreno said. “The person who killed Dennis Jackson most likely knew him.”
Based on a thorough examination of the house Investigators said there was no forced entry and that Trish said the reason she left the gate open outside the house was because she left it open for a new yard man she had hired.
Tania Jackson dismisses the ‘open gate’ story for the yard man to come in as highly suspicious because “the gate had my brother’s blood on it.” Jackson said only on this particular morning did someone with bloody hands happen to use that same gate for the so-called yard man.
An investigation into the attempted carjacking at the daycare center the day before the murder as alleged by Trish Hawkins produced no valuable lead because when investigators looked at the surveillance camera there was no attempted carjacking recorded unless it took place in an obscure part of the daycare property.
Phone Call in Dispute
According to Tania Jackson, the victim’s sister, a Detective told her he received a voicemail call from someone indicating Trish Hawkins had passed a polygraph test which showed she wasn’t involved with her boyfriend’s death and that an insurance check had been released to her.
The Detective would later claim to have not remembered telling Tania that he received such a call. Tania insists she was told by the lawman that this happened and that he also said they had been monitoring the expensive purchases by Trish Hawkins namely two high-dollar vehicles and name-brand purses.
Since the tragic events unfolded investigators have wanted to sit down in person with Hawkins to question her more about what happened but for ten years she would not meet with them. Hawkins also filed an official document in family court regarding a separate family-related action whereby she said that she has submitted to a polygraph test with the Houston Police Department that shows she was telling the truth when she said she didn’t kill Dennis Jackson.
The problem with this story is the Houston Police Department cannot give a person a polygraph test who is a person of interest in a homicide case with county authorities.
Harris County Sheriff investigator Billy Davis said he had not ordered the city police department to conduct a polygraph test on Trish Hawkins in Jackson’s homicide case. “It’s not coming from me; it must be about something else in another case,” Davis told this reporter.
Veteran criminal defense attorney Cheryl Irvin who has tried several murder cases said this in regard to Hawkins’s unwillingness to talk further with Detectives. “It’s the person’s right not to talk with the police. If the police believe the young lady did the homicide then why don’t they go after her?”
Cheryl Irvin said it is very unusual for “A woman to beat a man to death!” She went further. “I can see if a gun or knife was used then that’s what a woman will do, but not beat a man to death unless the man is weak and frail.” She suggests whoever is guilty of the young man’s death will likely be a man.
Lack of Interest in Father Bludgeoned to Death
Still, the lack of interest that someone has for the person that was killed, the person they sleep with and not wanting to help the police find out what happened to the person tugs at Tania Jackson’s heart. Most times she’s frustrated and angry. More and better responses from investigators would probably help. But even communication seems so detached from law enforcement. Yet the Jackson family is not giving up hope.
“Wouldn’t anyone want to know why the father of their children was brutally murdered in the same house where they also sleep every night?” Tania Jackson lamented.
Trish Hawkins has not been charged in the case and therefore she is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. She’s only been listed as a person of interest. Efforts to contact Hawkins by phone have been unsuccessful.
Anyone with information about the unsolved murder of Dennis Jackson can call crime stoppers for a cash reward at 713-222-8477 or email Tania Jackson at [email protected].
News Journalist CWalker360 can be reached at [email protected]