Crime

May 5, 2014

Cleburne businessman, 83, arrested in wife’s death

Samuel Ball, 83, a longtime fixed-based operator at Cleburne Regional Airport, is suspected of beating his wife to death, police say.

An 83-year-old Cleburne businessman suspected of killing his 87-year-old wife was arrested Monday, police said.

Samuel Alfred Ball was in the Johnson County Jail on Monday night but had not been before a magistrate, so bail was not set nor was a booking mug available, said Lt. Tim Jones, a sheriff’s spokesman.

The body of Betty Ball was found Monday by Cleburne police who were alerted to a possible homicide at a house in the 1600 block of Spring Branch Drive, said Detective Kelly Summey, a police spokeswoman.

According to a probable cause affidavit, an “informant” called police at 11:05 a.m. to report that Samuel Ball had said he “killed his wife.” The affidavit did not identify the informant.

The document described how police Lt. Bill Black contacted Ball at his aviation serivces business at the Cleburne airport. Ball told Black that he and his wife “had argued and fought earlier in the day.”

Ball said his wife “had fallen off a couch and was not breathing,” according to the affidavit.

An officer was sent to the house, which was locked. After a “forced entry,” the officer found Betty Ball on a couch wrapped in a blanket, the affidavit stated.

The officer pulled back the blanket and could tell that she was dead.

“Betty Ann Ball had massive trauma to her head and face area that was inconsistent with a ‘fall’ from the couch,” the affidavit said.

Public records show that Samuel Ball has provided aviation services for 40 years at Cleburne Regional Airport. He has operated as Panther Aviation Inc. and Cleburne Aviation Services, the records show.

The Facebook page for Cleburne Aviation states that the company is a full-service fixed-base operator that sells aircraft fuel. A phone book entry states that the company also does aircraft maintenance and rebuilding.

Staff news researcher Cathy Belcher contributed to this report.

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