Four years after the killing of millionaire Texas oilman Charles Mayhew Sr., there has finally been an arrest in the case. Mayhew's son, Charles Mayhew, Jr., was taken in by police in connection with his father's death.
Even before his arrest on July 15, Mayhew had been dogged by rumors and suspicion from neighbors and friends in Sunnyvale, Texas, the small town outside of Dallas where his father once served as mayor. "I don't have a life. I can't go anywhere in restaurants, I can't go to a grocery store without people making snide remarks," Mayhew said.
Mayhew's own sister, Mandy Dealey, was one of those people who viewed him with suspicion. Dealey was so convinced that her brother shot and killed their 81-year-old father that she brought a wrongful death suit against him. A civil jury agreed with Dealey, and awarded her $26 million. Based on evidence brought to light in the civil trial, investigators secured an arrest warrant for Mayhew. But the strength of their case remains unclear. A grand jury is scheduled to begin hearing evidence on Tuesday.
A Respected Family Man
The elder Mayhew was highly regarded in Sunnyvale as a "Texas Gentleman." He had made a fortune in the oil-drilling business, and was known by business associates and friends as a trustworthy man.
Family friend Lloyd Whitehead said Mayhew's word was "as good as his handshake," adding, "Whatever he says you can make book on it."
Mayhew and his son were once an inseparable pair. They had traveled the world together. They hunted together. Mayhew and his sister played together as children on the family's Sunnyvale ranch. But the two would grow up to be very different people. Mandy became well-known in Austin social circles, and once married into the family that owned the Dallas Morning News.
Chuck was also well known, not only as his father's business partner, but also as a hard-living, hard-drinking hell-raiser, who, according to some acquaintances, had a dark side.
"Chuck was high-tempered. I mean high-tempered … jump-up-and-down and stomp like a little bitty rooster," said Mayhew friend Gene Brown.
Good With a Gun
Mayhew was also known for another trait — he was very good with a gun. As a young man, Mayhew took one skeet-shooting trophy after another, eventually becoming a world champion.
Mayhew's talents with a shotgun sprang to Dealey's mind following her father's slaying. "The first thing they told me was that Daddy had been killed with a shotgun, which raised hair on the back of my neck, because a shotgun is Chuck's instrument," Dealey said. Despite her initial fears, she said she didn't want to believe that her brother could have harmed her father.
"I knew that he could be violent, but it was impossible for me to believe that he could do anything to Daddy," Dealey said.
Mayhew apparently had a penchant for bragging a bit about his prowess with a gun. Neighbor Linda White said, "He's always bragged that he could kill people and get away with it."
A Grisly Discovery
Charles Mayhew Sr. was discovered dead in his bed at around 1 p.m. on March 1, 1998, by Christopher, his grandson. Christopher called Chuck right away, saying he thought his grandfather had suffered some sort of hemorrhage in bed.