by Ashley Cook, The Lufkin Daily News

LIVINGSTON, TX -- The body of a 4-year-old Polk County boy found last week
in a shallow grave behind his family's trailer had been buried since Sept.
23 after his mother allegedly strangled him, according to a sheriff's office

Tabitha A. Boone, 25, who on Friday was charged with capital murder, told
officials after several hours of questioning that she had grabbed her son
Tony by the throat and thrown him across the room after he had a fit,
according to sheriff's Lt.
Craig Finegan. Boone was pregnant at the time with her daughter, now two
months old, he said.

Boone told police she came out of her bedroom the next morning and found her
son's cold, stiff body lying on his pallet on the floor.
She then buried her son's body behind the home, covering his body with lime
to keep animals away, Finegan said.

Finegan and fellow sheriff's Lt. Phillip Waller were part of a team that on
Thursday took two hours to exhume the body of the boy, found curled up and
wrapped in a blanket in a hole 18 inches deep about 75 yards behind the home
near the southern Polk County town of Ace, Finegan said.

Boone showed little emotion and no remorse during her extensive questioning
and a video-taped confession, Finegan said, describing her as "very

Autopsy results returned Saturday show the boy was strangled, despite his
mother's statements that she had only had her hands around his neck for a
brief period, Finegan said.

Officers went to the home Thursday morning after Child Protective Services
received a call that the boy hadn't been seen in a while.
Boone told them her son was staying with his father in Alvin. After
checking, officers discovered the boy's father, Robert Owens, was serving
time in the Tennessee Colony prison near Palestine in Anderson County.

"We knew then we had a problem," Waller said. "We felt this child was
probably dead and buried somewhere."

Prison officials informed Owens of the boy's death. Owens said he had heard
of the boy but had never seen him, Finegan said.

Officers took Boone in for what became a full night of questioning, during
which she would occasionally break down and cry a little, then quickly sit
up and look him in the face and smile, repeating her son was with his father
in Alvin, before finally confessing the body's whereabouts, Finegan said.
She told officers the boy had been having repeated fits, and that she had
been having trouble getting along with him, he said.

Boone apparently repeated the story of her son being with his father to many
around the small community of Ace, including her live-in boyfriend. Boone
and her boyfriend were living on the back section of the boyfriend's
family's land with her son, a 6-year-old daughter by another man, and she
and her boyfriend's two-month old girl, Finegan said.

CPS workers, who currently have custody of Boone's two children, had been
called to the home last year for a welfare concern that was eventually ruled
unfounded, Finegan said.
The sheriff's office had been out to the home last year to bust a
methamphetamine lab the boyfriend was running out of a shed behind the
trailer, he said. The boyfriend is currently being held under a work-release
program in the Trinity County jail and is not considered a suspect, Finegan

Word of the boy's death was spreading quickly Saturday afternoon through the
shocked community of Ace, where residents were gathering to compare notes
over lunch at local mom-and-pop eateries.

Dorothy and Lynn Higginbotham own the general store Boone often shopped at
with her two girls. Neither of the Higginbothams could remember ever seeing
Tony, but Dorothy said she recalled Boone telling her the little boy was
saying he didn't love her anymore, and was causing problems at home. She
said Boone told her she had four children, but that only the two girls had
been in the store.
Her husband said he had seen Boone outside the store with her older daughter
and a young girl he didn't know inside her car.

"The night before Christmas she came by. She said her little boy's father
and his new wife were spoiling him," Dorothy Higginbotham said.

Boone had always seemed to be happy, Lynn Higginbotham said, but in October
he noticed something was "not right" with her behavior. Her boyfriend said
Boone suffered a long history of family violence, Higginbotham said, who
said word around Ace was that the boy's mixed-race background -- Boone is
white, Owens is black -- was the source of much of the trouble.

Up the road at Granny's Kountry Kitchen, lunch patrons were shaking their
heads at the tragedy.

"That's beyond human nature. Beyond anything you can understand," one woman
said. "That's the world we live in."

One man, who said he had been a police officer for 22 years, was eating
lunch with his 3-year-old granddaughter.

"If anything happened to her, the police couldn't get to the person that had
done it fast enough," he said, nodding at the girl. "They'd be dead."

The sheriff's office is working with the state crime victims'
compensation division to fund the boy's funeral, which is set for 10:30 a.m.
Friday at Cochran Funeral Home in Livingston.

The image of the little body is one Finegan and Waller said they will not
soon forget.

"You dig up a child in a fetal position in a grave, and that's something you
never get over," Finegan said, emotion choking his words.

Source : Lufkin Daily News