Tyler County custody hearing

Letha Westfall, center, leaves the Tyler County Courthouse on Feb. 21 along with her attorney, Amy Bythewood, right. Letha Westfall’s daughter, Kristen Westfall, used the courthouse’s back exit instead of walking out with her mother.

A Tyler County double-murder suspect jailed Thursday on an unrelated drug charge involving her husband’s prescriptions may soon be released after he came forward claiming he lied.

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, Tyler County Chief Deputy Phil Ryan said he had not received word as to whether Letha Westfall, 54, had been released from the Tyler County Jail where she had been since her 9 p.m. Thursday arrest on a charge of possession of a controlled substance by fraud. Ryan said the sheriff’s office had not been aware of the December charge in which Letha Westfall’s husband Paul accused her attempting to fill his prescriptions while they were separated, until they received a call from the Jasper Police Department this week. She was arrested at her home without incident. 

Ryan said she is considered a suspect in the Jan. 18 double-murder of her former son-in-law Nathan “Brad” Maddox, 34, and his wife Krystal Maddox, 30, of Zavalla. 

“We’ve been waiting for the right time to change her status from that of a person of interest to a suspect. We felt this was it,” Ryan said Friday. “We were notified this afternoon of a possible problem with the charge by the Jasper County District Attorney. Paul Westfall is now claiming he filed a false report against his wife. He may be charged with filing a false report.” 

The Jasper County district attorney was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon.

Ryan said he could not comment as to why Letha Westfall is considered a suspect in the Maddox murders.

“None of the other Westfall family members have been ruled out as suspects,” Ryan said. “With the help of the FBI and Texas Rangers, we are moving forward on this case.” 

Letha and Paul Westfall are the parents of Kristen Westfall, who was formerly married to Nathan Maddox. Nathan and Krystal Maddox were shot to death outside Mount Carmel Baptist Church on a country road outside Colmesneil where they had gone for court-ordered visitation of the 5-year-old daughter he had with Kristen Westfall, Madison Nicole. The couple was leaving the church around noon when the incident occurred. Madison was inside with her grandmother, Letha Westfall, and an unbiased, court-appointed supervisor at the time. Law enforcement previously described the killings as “executions.” 

In a forensic interview, Madison said Mount Carmel Baptist is where she attended church with the Westfall family, adding that her mother and grandmother teach Sunday school there.  

According to previous reports, Nathan Maddox spent the last year fighting for custody of Madison from his former in-laws after Kristen Westfall left the girl in their custody due to her methamphetamine problem. He chronicled his fight on a Go Fund Me page titled “Help Me Save My Daughter.” Nathan Maddox’s attorney Ryan Deaton told The Lufkin News in a previous interview that his client was likely only steps away from being granted custody of Madison. In the wake of the murders, CPS removed Madison from her grandparents’ home three weeks ago for her safety. When investigators went into the Westfall’s home after the murders they found raw sewage leaking into the backyard, a pistol lying on a nightstand next to the bed Madison shared with her mother and a baggie with a used syringe and meth residue in Letha Westfall’s bedroom dresser drawer. Letha Westfall claimed she was keeping the bag as leverage against her daughter to prevent her from leaving with Madison.

Testimony in a CPS hearing held last week to determine future custody of the child showed that Kristen Westfall continued to live with her parents and had daily access to Madison, though a court order required her to move after she was charged with methamphetamine possession last year. 

Madison will stay in CPS custody at an unknown foster location until at least an April 9 hearing to finish the court proceedings. 

Though they have not issued a statement and hung up when The Lufkin News called their home last month, this week the Westfall family broke their silence on a Facebook page apparently created by Kristen Westfall titled “Bring Madi back to her home and family.”

“It was a tragedy what happened to Nathan and Krystal no doubt and we pray the killers are caught soon. However, we had no wrongdoing in the crimes and now an innocent child is being punished for what happened. My parents’ home is the only home Madi has ever known and this is the only family she knows,” a late Thursday post read. 

Deaton is now representing Nathan Maddox’s father, Wells pastor Jim Maddox, and his wife Jan in a fight for the girl. Though the news of Letha Westfall’s arrest helps his client’s case, Deaton said the deciding factor will be who is charged in the murders of Nathan and Krystal Maddox.

“If proven she was gaining illegal drugs by fraud, then that certainly isn’t a place a child needs to be, but ultimately the drug case won’t be the deciding factor,” Deaton said.

Ryan said Letha Westfall’s bond had not been set and that if she did not post bond, she would be transported to the Jasper County Jail.

The murder case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office at (409) 283-2172.

Jessica Cooley’s email address is jcooley@lufkindailynews.com.