Port Arthur Killer's Letter For Sale Online


It’s rare for a serial killer who admits to his crimes, essentially boasting about them during his own trial, to fly under the radar. But in the case of Elroy Chester, that’s what happened, with his crimes largely overshadowed by the James Byrd Jr. tragedy in Jasper. It was on Aug. 24, 1998, that Chester was convicted in Jefferson County for the murder of Port Arthur firefighter Willie Ryman, who was checking on his nieces when Chester shot him to death.

Chester, a career criminal, admitted to four other murders and three rapes in addition to sexually assaulting Ryman’s nieces.

Now 42, the Port Arthur native who many in local law enforcement call the worst criminal in Jefferson County history awaits his date with death while sitting on Death Row at the Polunksy Unit in Livingston.

And while most folks in Jefferson County would prefer to never hear the name Elroy Chester again, especially his surviving victims and the family members of the people he killed, $20 to a “murderbilia” Web site will buy a letter written by Chester.

“That’s pretty sick, but I’m not surprised,” said Tim Smith, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who knew Chester and ultimately heard Chester confess to his crimes.
The Web site auctioning off Chester’s letter does not go into specifics regarding what the letter is about other than Chester writes about someone’s birthday and the Bible.
Tim Smith, who before working as an investigator with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office in 1989 had been a cop in Port Arthur, busted Chester when he was a small-time criminal throughout the ’80s. “I had known him for a quite a long time,” said Smith, who added that Chester was always getting busted for breaking into houses.
“He wasn’t very good at it,” Smith said of Chester’s burglary skills, but it was his overall savvy, both on the streets and in his dealings with the police, that separated him from other criminals.

Ironically, the paths of the criminal and the cop would cross again more than a decade later when Chester was being investigated for the Ryman murder and requested to speak with Smith.