PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 11, 2013

Firefighters, others to show support of Ryman’s family

Members of PAFD, police chief to be in Huntsville for Elroy Chester’s execution

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

— A group of firefighters and the chief of police are planning to be in attendance in Huntsville when Port Arthur serial killer Elroy Chester is executed on Wednesday.

The firefighters, including Chief Larry Richard and Port Neches Fire Chief Steve Curran as well as Port Arthur Police Chief Mark Blanton will show their support for the family of slain firefighter Willie Ryman III. Ryman was the fifth and final victim of Chester. He was shot to death Feb. 6, 1998 when he went to check on his sister’s teenaged daughters and interrupted Chester as he was sexually assaulting them.

Blanton, who was deputy chief of field operations at the time of the homicide, said he plans to attend the execution to support the families of the victims.

Over at Port Arthur Fire Station No. 5 is the fire truck once used by Ryman. After Ryman’s death the truck was dedicated in his honor and features the wording “in honor of Willie W. Ryman III.” Another truck features a cartoon aardvark and Ryman’s initials. The aardvark refers to Ryman’s love of World War II aircraft; his uncle was in the Aardvark Squadron.

PAFD Capt. Perry Manual is a longtime friend of Ryman.

“We coached Little League baseball together, fished together, hunted together and hung out together,” Manuel said.

Manuel paused briefly while discussing Ryman, saying “all these things come flooding back.”

Ryman and his sister Kim DeLeon were both firefighters in Port Arthur. Ryman was station at the Lewis Drive facility while Ryman’s sister was stationed across town. Ryman had worked the early shift and was getting off work as his sister was heading in to work, Manuel said. DeLeon was divorced and a single mother so Ryman was known to drop by to check on his nieces.

Manuel said the firefighters union is providing a van for transportation for the group of firefighters who will be in Huntsville in support of Ryman’s family.

Elroy Chester’s violent rampage in the Pear Ridge area of the city occurred over a six month period. His crimes left five people dead and included the sexual assault of three people under the age of 17 as well as shooting and injuring several others.

Chester is scheduled for execution for the murder of Ryman at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews