The woman charged with the murder of 52-year-old Fort Bend County resident Ronald James Dewars may have had a previous relationship with him, according to San Jacinto County Criminal District Attorney Bill Burnett.
James Michael McLaughlin, 49, and his wife Rebecca McLaughlin, 48, have both been charged with murder after police found Dewars body buried on the property where they rented a trailer. The couple married in October.
On Nov. 27 Dewars was reported missing by his girlfriend, who said he went to San Jacinto County to sell his black 2007 Shelby Mustang. Fort Bend County detectives discovered that James Michael McLaughlin was trying to buy the car, and contacted San Jacinto County on Dec. 2.
When police arrived at the couple’s rented trailer in the 200 block of Stephens Creek Circle located near Coldspring on Dec. 3, the Mustang was parked outside with a for sale sign on it. While police were there, James Michael McLaughlin and Rebecca McLaughlin pulled up in their Volkswagen Jetta, saw police, and took off.
After a short chase, the car was stopped and James Michael McLaughlin was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Burleson County for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Rebecca McLaughlin was released and went to stay with relatives in Fort Bend County.
The landlord of the property asked police what was happening, and was told they were investigating a missing person. The landlord told police that James Michael McLaughlin asked him a few weeks earlier to use his backhoe to dig a hole so they could bury a Great Dane/St. Bernard mix dog that died.
Several days later, James Michael McLaughlin told him to cover the hole back up. The landlord told police he looked in the hole, but all he saw was plywood and pieces of carpet.
A cadaver dog brought in from the Texas Department of Corrections on Dec. 4 indicated that a body was buried in the hole, and San Jacinto County officials called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Evidence Recovery Team. On Dec. 5, a body was found buried about 5 feet under.
An FBI team searching the inside of the couple’s trailer found Dewars’ driver’s license and credit cards, and an autopsy positively identified the body as Dewars.
James Michael McLaughlin was served with the murder warrant while still in San Jacinto County Jail, and Rebecca McLaughlin was arrested on the charge and remains in Fort Bend County Jail. Both are being held on a $500,000 bond.
Burnett says the investigation is ongoing, and the two could end up being charged with capital murder, which can carry the death penalty.