Hunt County Sheriff’s Investigator Tommy Grandfield was one of the first law enforcement officers on the scene where the bodies of Dennis Woodruff and his wife Norma were found inside their home on Hunt County Road 2648, just northeast of Royse City, on the evening of Oct. 18, 2005.
Grandfield testified that the Woodruffs were discovered sitting next to one another on a couch on one side of the living room of the home, next to a television which was still on.
“There was a lot of blood around the bodies,” Grandfield said Thursday afternoon, during the first day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Brandon Dale Woodruff, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering his parents.
Raphael Guerrero with the Texas Attorney General’s Office presented the prosecution’s opening arguments in the 354th District Court Thursday morning, explaining Dennis Woodruff was shot once, then stabbed nine times, while Norma Woodruff was shot as many as five times.
Guerrero said Dennis Woodruff didn’t put up a fight before he was killed.
“There were no defensive wounds, no reaction,” Guerrero said. “The murderer comes within inches of Mr. Woodruff’s face and he doesn’t react.”
One defensive wound was found on Norma Woodruff’s right hand.
Guerrero set out the prosecution’s case for the jury, explaining how the residence was found to be locked when a friend of the family was asked to check on the Woodruffs and that nothing of value appeared to have been taken from the home. “The only thing missing? The wallets,” Guerrero said.
Norma Woodruff’s pickup truck was also missing, although Brandon Woodruff’s truck was found at the couple’s residence in Heath. The Woodruffs were in the process of moving into the Royse City home at the time of the murder.
Brandon Woodruff, at the time a student at Abilene Christian University (ACU), was forbidden from driving Norma Woodruff’s pickup.
“For weeks, he had been telling friends at ACU he would be getting a new truck,” Guerrero said. The night of the murders, Woodruff drove to see a friend in Denton in the pickup.
Guerrero said Woodruff would give conflicting accounts of his whereabouts on the night of the murders, offering multiple versions of where he was and what he was doing.
A gun connected with the killings has never been found, Guerrero said, and neither had any knife. A former roommate of at the university told investigators Woodruff used to carry around a dagger and in July 2008, Linda Matthews, Norma Woodruff’s sister, found a dagger among the family’s possessions at the Heath residence.
The dagger itself had been cleaned and offered no forensic evidence, Guerrero said, until a skull compartment at the base was opened and blood matching Dennis Woodruff was found inside.
“The lies finally caught up to him,” Guerrero said.
The defense deferred its opening argument until following the closure of the prosecution’s case.
Matthews, who lives with Norma Woodruff’s mother in Texarkana, was first witness called, noting how the victims were a couple still very much in love, who had chosen to downsize in order to help pay for their children’s college education.
The Woodruff’s daughter, Charla, was attending Southern Arkansas University and was with Matthews on the night of the murders. Matthews testified that Norma Woodruff’s mother spoke with the couple briefly at around 9 p.m. Oct. 16, and Charla intended to call her parents she returned to the university in Magnolia, Ark., to say goodnight.
Matthews said Charla was unable to reach her parents when she called at 10 p.m. and no one was able to reach them at either the residence or at their jobs for the next two days.
Matthews said she called the friend, Todd Williams, to check on the couple. Williams made entry into the home through a window and was the first to find the bodied.
After hearing about the murders, the family agreed to gather in Texarkana for the funerals. Matthews said Brandon Woodruff told her he had swapped trucks with his mother because his pickup wasn’t working, which she found unusual.
“She didn’t let anyone drive her truck,” Matthews said. She also took exception with the defendant’s reaction when he arrived for the services.
“There weren’t any tears,” Matthews said.
Grandfield later noted how, in addition to the television, there was a computer, microwave and .38 caliber pistol and holster in plain site in various areas of the house.
Among the evidence collected, two additional investigators called in from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office instructed Grandfield to bag up a shower curtain and liner, a bath towel and a wash cloth from the bathroom of the residence.
Investigators have said whomever committed the murders may have used the bathroom to take a shower afterward.