The Fannin County Sheriff's Office continues to put together pieces of the triple homicide case involving the deaths of Leonard residents Harold and Sue Harpst and Regina Taunton, and a big piece that was missing was uncovered Tuesday.
FCSO reported early Tuesday afternoon that the van belonging to Harold and Sue Harpst, which has been missing since the case originated Jan. 18, was found in Oklahoma. A press release by the department states that they received a call from the Durant Police Department at approximately 8:23 a.m. advising that a vehicle that had been entered in the national database by FCSO was found at a hotel in their city. Officers soon learned that it was the handicapped-equipped 2007 silver Dodge Caravan belonging to Harold and Sue Harpst. FCSO further reports that the manager of the motel contacted Durant PD to report a vehicle that had been abandoned on their property. Motel personnel indicated that the van had been parked on the lot for several weeks.
After receiving the call, Fannin County Sheriff Donnie Foster and his investigators, along with a Texas Ranger, recovered the vehicle from Durant. The van has been sent to a Texas DPS Crime Lab for processing to determine whether any additional evidence can be located.
The case started on Jan. 18 after a report came in that there may have been three homicides in the county. Officers found overwhelming evidence at the Leonard home of Harold and Sue Harpst that foul play had taken place. FCSO's investigation led to the arrest of Sue Harpst's son, Thomas Taunton, who is being held in Fannin County Jail awaiting indictment on capital murder charges. The arrest warrant affidavit for Taunton shows that the most likely piece of compelling evidence against Taunton is a recorded conversation where he reportedly admits to shooting them in the home near Leonard and generally describes where he dumped the bodies, which matched the location in Luella where officers discovered their remains on Jan. 21. An examining trial originally scheduled for Feb. 10 was canceled by request of the defendant, and Taunton will likely not appear in court until after his case is presented to the Grand Jury for indictment, which did not occur during their most recent meeting on Feb. 23. The next regularly scheduled date for the Fannin County Grand Jury to meet is Thursday, March 22, at 8:30 a.m.
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