Man found dead on rural road
March 20, 2017 at 10:51 p.m.
Updated March 21, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Authorities are investigating the death of a 45-year-old Bloomington man found Monday morning on a rural, isolated roadway in southern Victoria County.
"Until determined otherwise, we are handling it as a homicide," said Chief Deputy Roy Boyd in a written statement. Boyd said the death marks the first homicide investigation by the sheriff's office for 2017.
The Victoria County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the 700 block of Old Bloomington Road about 5:25 a.m. after a caller reported a motionless man lying on the ground.
Deputies arrived to find John Hartley, 45, dead next to a green car about 2 miles northwest of the heart of Bloomington.
Wide, empty fields surround that roadway. A nearby Air Liquide plant, 767 Old Bloomington Road, is one of few man-made structures visible from where Hartley was found.
Robert Maretick, a retired Bloomington resident, said he had seen nothing suspicious along the road recently. He said he has witnessed what he thought to be illegal drug sales or interactions between vehicles along nearby roadways at night.
Because of the suspicious nature of Hartley's death, Justice of the Peace Stuart Posey has ordered an autopsy, according to a written statement by the sheriff's office. Sheriff's investigators will be aided by the Texas Rangers and Victoria County District Attorney's Office.
According to court records, Hartley was convicted of possession of a prohibited weapon in 1989 and assault in 1997 among numerous nonviolent crimes such as theft and resisting arrest.
Bloomington resident Ronald Wallace, 49, said he has lived a few houses down from Hartley's Rio Grande Avenue home for about 15 years.
"He'd see me working on my vehicle, and he'd stop and talk," Wallace said of Hartley.
Wallace said he socialized with Hartley "off and on" and was saddened by the news of his neighbor's death. He also said he was unaware of any medical issues Hartley may have had.
He mostly remembered the man as a typical neighbor who was friendly and didn't attract a lot of attention but was recognized around town.
"Everybody knew him," Wallace said. "He talked to everybody. He was a good guy."