Letters flood state opposing release of man behind Haltom City killing

HALTOM CITY -- The threats are still vivid in their minds, 27 years later.

"I'll kill you. I'll slit your throat. I'm going to get you."

Convicted murderer Dan Quinn's vows of revenge have not been forgotten by relatives and friends of the late Carolyn Quinn. They scrambled Friday to bombard the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles with letters to keep Quinn behind bars.

The family was told to submit letters by Monday opposing early release for Quinn, 72, who has served about a quarter of his 99-year sentence for killing his estranged wife April 1, 1985.

Prison officials recently recommended Quinn for early medical release because of heart and other health problems. The request was rejected but could come up again for consideration in as soon as 60 days. Quinn has said he is also seeking regular parole, but prison officials said he will not be eligible for that until early next year.

Carolyn Quinn's family and friends say they'll do everything they can to keep him locked up.

"Please do not forget my Aunt Carolyn," niece Phyllis Hall wrote Friday to the parole board. "She deserves justice be given for her blood spilled on a concrete parking lot."

Carolyn's sister, Mary Ann Davis, is equally blunt.

"I don't care how crowded the prisons are," Davis told the Star-Telegram on Friday. "He needs to stay there."

Relatives and friends said they began mobilizing Thursday after reading a Star-Telegram article about a growing number of sick inmates, including Quinn, being recommended by the state for medical release.

The state says old, infirm inmates are costly and could be better served with "free world" medical services. Prosecutors and victims-rights advocates say such early release puts victims at risk.

Mobilizing forces

Linda Pitchford, who was Carolyn Quinn's boss at the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association until shortly before Quinn died, said Friday that Dan Quinn followed her, too, and threatened to slit her throat for helping his wife. She said he would call in bomb threats so he could stand at a distance and watch employees leave the building. Threatening phone calls continued to Pitchford and to Davis even after he was arrested.

Pitchford said Dan Quinn will always be a threat to her and Carolyn Quinn's family.

"I think if he is on his last days, he'd want to get the revenge he always wanted," she said.

Davis scoffs at Dan Quinn's comments to the Star-Telegram recently that he found religion in prison and "made peace with God."

"It doesn't matter how sick he is; I don't care how much religion he has," she said. "He got 99 years and he should serve it in prison. ... He's selfish. He's manipulative. He's just downright mean."

Davis' daughter Kathy Moore voiced similar misgivings.

"He's a danger to everybody," she said. "We are going to have to pay taxes [to support him] whether he is inside or out. He deserves to rot in there."

Threats in blood

Relatives say tensions between Dan and Carolyn Quinn escalated after she went to work for the association. She enjoyed her job and was learning new computer skills, but Dan Quinn didn't want her to work.

Carolyn Quinn moved out of their home in October 1984 after he put a knife to her throat. By January 1985, she had filed for divorce. He told her he would never let her divorce him and began following her when she left home, leaving threatening notes on her car and doorstep and writing threats in blood on her windshield.

He also threatened to kill her relatives if they helped her, they said.

She was shot in April while leaving a Haltom City drugstore after buying items for a new grandbaby. Dan Quinn was arrested the next day in Conroe near Houston trying to get money at a Western Union. He was convicted in 1986 by a Tarrant County jury.

Never forgotten

Davis said she called the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's victim services department Thursday after the Star-Telegram article appeared and was told that letters opposing his release should be submitted promptly.

By late Friday, dozens had been sent by relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Davis said the state did not notify her in advance that the Star-Telegram was working on an article, as is department policy. Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Criminal Justice Department, said three relatives were notified, but she did not identify them.

Davis said the victims services department called Friday to apologize and assured her she would be notified in the future. Hall said the family will work as long as necessary to remind the parole board of the family's loss.

"These are real people, with real feelings and real hurt that never goes away," she said. "We will never let anybody forget Carolyn."

Dan and Carolyn Quinn also had two daughters who could not be located for comment. He said he hasn't talked to his daughters since his trial.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

Twitter: @DiannaHunt