Three suspects sentenced for roles in Abilene man’s kidnapping, murder

Crime

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) –  The final three suspects have been convicted and sentenced for their respective roles in the kidnapping and murder of an Abilene man whose body was found on the side of the road in August of 2016.

Matthew Struble, Euella Cooper, and Michael Pine all pleaded guilty last month to Aggravated Kidnapping in Taylor County in connection to the death of Ronald “Ronnie” Varner.

Struble was sentenced to serve 50 years in prison, Cooper 20 years, and Pine 10 years. 

This week, Struble also pleaded guilty to Murder in Jones County for Varner’s death. 

Two other suspects, Jody Ordway and Olyvia Jackson, were previously sentenced to serve 45 years and 50 years in prison respectively after they were convicted of kidnapping Varner. 

Varner was found deceased on CR 347 in Hawley on August 2, 2016. Court documents say he was shot at least five times.

After Varner’s body was identified, detectives contacted a relative who said Varner had been house-sitting at Pine and Cooper’s home on the 1500 block of Sycamore Street. The documents say this relative told police Varner called her on August 1, 2016 and stated he had been tied up and beaten but would be let go. He never came home and his relative was unable to find him.

A witness also spoke with detectives and told them she was at the Sycamore Street house a few days before the murder when she saw Varner fighting with Ordway, according to the documents, which say this witness also said Pine was at her house the night before Varner was found deceased looking for ammunition.

The documents say Struble reported seeing Varner tied up and naked on the floor of the Sycamore house and that Cooper told him that Varner had to be killed and that if they turned him loose, everyone would get arrested for kidnapping. Cooper then gave Struble a gun.

Struble also told police that Ordway, Cooper, and Pine all participated in the kidnapping and beating of Varner, the documents state.

Struble says he shot and killed Varner on the side of the road while Jackson was present. Jackson also admitted to firing a shot, according to the documents.

Pine was arrested in 2016 when he allegedly took a firearm to someone to be disposed of, according to the documents, which say that the person he took the gun to told police Pine “claimed to have killed Ronald Varner because Varner was an informer and was ‘building a case on Cooper'”.

Court documents say “the investigation revealed not only that all five [suspects named in this article] were involved in the kidnapping but also in the murder of Ronald Varner”. 

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