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Cobb Park, Fort Worth, TX
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2600 Cobb Park Dr, Fort Worth, TX 76105, USA (
Located on the Eastern side of Fort Worth, Texas, in the Polytechnic Heights neighborhood Cobb Park is one of the 228 parks that the city maintains. The park is connected to Sycamore Park to the North, with Sycamore Creek running through both parks. Cobb Park was once known for its wild flowers and walking trails and still has grills for picnics and a playground for children to play in. Unfortunately, the park has become known more for the crimes that have happened in and around it over the last few decades.
According to a story printed in the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
in 1995, Cobb Park had become something of a joke for the local police force with the quote "
Need to find a stolen car, look in Cobb Park.
" Stolen cars are not the only thing found in the park. On multiple occasions the bodies of murder victims have been discovered by park employees and strollers within the park. The park came to international attention in 2002 due to a body that had been dumped there in October of 2001.
The Windshield Murder
On the night of October 26, 2001 at approximately 3:00 a.m., Chante Jawan Mallard (age 25), a state-certified nurse's aide, struck Gregory Biggs (age 37), with her 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier. The accident occurred on U.S. Highway 287 near the Loop 820 split. Biggs, a mentally ill homeless man, smashed through the windshield of the car and became lodged. His upper torso wound up resting on the dashboard with his legs wrapped up over the roof of the car. Incredibly, Mallard continued to drive with the injured victim partially stuck in her vehicle. She is said to have driven in this manner for five miles before finally pulling over and attempting to dislodge the injured man from her windshield. After failing to remove him from the vehicle, she drove another mile, eventually pulling the car into the garage of her home at 3840 Wilbarger Street. If there were any witnesses, nobody reported it.
Chante Mallard had been drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking marijuana and doing the drug ecstasy at a friend's apartment and at Joe's Big Bamboo Club in Arlington throughout the evening. This alleged D.U.I. is likely to have been both a cause in the accident as well as her motive in not reporting the incident and her actions following it. Chante left the unfortunate Gregory Biggs in her garage along with her car; not removing the injured man from the vehicle. She did not report the accident or provide/seek medical help for Biggs.
While it has been reported widely that Gregory Biggs lived for days trapped in the windshield, in reality it was only a matter of hours before his body finally gave out from the injuries he'd sustained. Chante later told authorities that she spent some time in the garage apologizing to Biggs. She stated that he'd murmured words that she couldn't hear and moaned. In court testimony, Chante Mallard stated that she'd called a female friend she'd been out with earlier that night. The friend came over to Mallard's house, saw what had happened and they went to the friend's place, leaving Biggs behind alone.
Gregory Biggs died at some point within six hours of the accident. The coroner later determined that Biggs had died from hemorrhagic shock resulting from his multiple bone fractures. There were no life-threatening injuries to any of his internal organs.
Later that morning, Chante Mallard enlisted the help of her ex-boyfriend Clete Deneal Jackson and his cousin Herbert Tyrone Cleveland. They returned to Mallard's home and found that Biggs had died in her absence. That night, Jackson, Cleveland and Mallard drove the body to Cobb Park and dumped it there near the edge of a parking lot in the 2800 block. The dead body of Gregory Biggs was discovered on October 27 by a pair of elderly men who then alerted a fireman who was in the area. The fireman called the police after confirming for himself that there was indeed a body in the park. Authorities were quick to realize that Biggs had been killed elsewhere and brought to the park for dumping. An autopsy revealed that his injuries would not have been life threatening had he been allowed medical care. It would not be until February of 2002 that police would get a lead in the case.
Chante Mallard made the mistake of telling others about the incident while at a party. One woman at the party, Maranda Daniel, went to the police with what she had heard. Her third-hand account of Mallard's story spread through the media and is the version most often written about.
Maranda Daniel told officers that Mallard confessed her crime as an explanation as to why she couldn't be designated driver for the others while they went out drinking. According to Daniel's account, Chante Mallard giggled while saying, "
I hit this white man.
" Maranda Daniel went on to say that Chante had claimed to have had sex with a boyfriend named Terrance in her home shortly after the accident while Gregory Biggs lay injured in the garage. According to the story Maranda told police, Bigg's had suffered for days in the garage before finally dying. She also told officers that a man named "Vaughn" had disposed of the dead white man for Mallard. A number of details in Maranda Daniel's account conflict with later testimony and forensic evidence.
A search warrant was issued for Mallard's home on February 26, 2002. Investigators found traces of Bigg's hair and blood in, on and near Mallard's vehicle. She had removed the seats and sections of the vehicle interior; burning one of the seats in her backyard. Chante Mallard was taken into custody and charged with failure to render aid. It wouldn't be until March 6 that she was charged with murder. The charge was based on evidence from the County Medical Examiner, showing that Gregory Biggs would have easily survived his injuries had he been allowed medical help.
Mallard's accomplices made plea bargains in which they agreed to testify against her. Herbert Cleveland wound up with a nine year prison sentence and Clete Jackson received ten years for his part in the crime as well. On June 27, 2003, a jury sentenced Chante Mallard to 50 years in prison for committing murder and a further ten years for tampering with evidence. Chante Mallard was labeled "The Windshield Killer" and the incident "The Windshield Murder" by some news outlets.
The Windshield Murder in Media
The murder of Gregory Biggs has provided inspiration for TV shows and a movie. The television program
Law & Order
featured an episode titled
in its fourteenth season. The episode was inspired by the Chante Mallard murder case and features a homeless man who is killed in an apparent hit-and-run. The actual case likewise inspired the
Anatomy of a Lye
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
. The episode, which aired as part of the show's second season, involves the protagonists investigating a body dumped in a park and covered with lye. The investigation eventually uncovers a story that echoes the murder or Gregory Biggs.
The 2007 Stuart Gordon film
was loosely based on the media stories that were in turn based on the third-hand testimony of Maranda Daniels. It takes great liberties with a story that has already been shown not to be accurate. It is ultimately a work of fiction.
Issues of Ethnicity in the Windshield Murder
The murder of Gregory Biggs has been a hot button issue with some white supremacists. Chante Mallard and her accomplices were African Americans. Gregory Biggs was a Caucasian. Chante's undoing resulted from her allegedly laughing about the "white man" she'd killed with her car. Still, Mallard's motives in her murder of Bigg's appear to have been driven by selfishness and fear rather than ethnicity. The outrage shown by white supremacists also seems to be tied strongly tied to Maranda Daniel's account, which paints a more extreme version of what apparently really happened.
The issue of race once again came up as a result of Stuart Gordon's film,
. The film cast Mena Suvari in the role of Brandi Boski, a fictional character based on Chante Mallard. Mena Suvari is white. Suvari's character in the film has a number of traits that fit black stereotypes. The casting has proven controversial to different people for different reasons. The criticism has ranged from publications such as the
to a variety of Internet blogs.
For some, the casting of Suvari, her costuming and character traits were a modern day equivalent of a white actor putting on blackface makeup. Some critics decried the casting decision as a role that should have gone to a black actress being given instead to a white actress. Others have condemned the casting of Suvari in the role as an attempt to gloss over the issue of ethnicity in the actual crime. There has also been some criticism over the fictionalization of Gregory Biggs murder in TV shows, including one show which placed a Caucasian male in the role inspired by Chante Mallard.
It is interesting to note that while there is some commotion over changes on the character based on Chante Mallard, there seems to be little or nothing said about the changes made to the character based on Gregory Biggs in Stuart Gordon's film. Thomas Bardo, the victim in the film is not mentally ill. The movie also shows him getting evicted from his boarding room on the same day that he gets hit by a car. His character comes across less as a homeless man and more as guy who is just having a very bad day. Similarly, a great number of written accounts leave out Gregory Bigg's mental illness. Ironically, most of those criticizing the film for making changes to the story, in turn spread the sensationalized version of the actual tale which falsely has Biggs lingering for days.
More Murders Connected with Cobb Park
The body of Gregory Biggs is far from being the only one to be found in or near the park.
On November 16, 1990, the body of Larry Embry (age 19) was discovered by a woman walking through Cobb Park. Embry had been shot to death by James "Bullet" Bullard. The death was connected to the murder of Embry's friend Marvin Brown Jr. in the weeks prior. Brown's death had been a contract killing. Larry Embry had tried to warn Brown about the hit that had been ordered on him, but was unable to prevent the killing. Embry also discovered the identity of his friend's killer, only to be slain by the same hitman for knowing too much. Bullard was convicted for his crimes and sent to prison in 2006.
On March 6, 1993, the body of 30-year-old Melody Ann Odom was discovered by a man collecting aluminum cans. She had been raped and beaten to death. A pair of teenage boys were convicted in the crime.
On January 25, 1994, the unidentified body of a young male was found with several bullet wounds to his head. The corpse was located on the embankment of Sycamore Creek within the park.
On November 14, 1994, the body of Adrian Hernandez (age 24) was discovered by park employees who were picking up trash in the park. Hernandez was discovered in the 2700 block of Cobb Park. He had died from head trauma. It is unclear whether this crime was ever solved.
On February 19, 1996, the body of Tommy Lee Steptoe was discovered in the 2700 block of the park as well. He'd been shot in the head. Kelvin J. Horton (AKA: "Little Weasel") and Michael Shipman (both age 22) were indicted in the crime. Horton was given a life sentence for the crime. It is unclear what role Shipman played in the crime, if any, and what became of the case against him. Steptoe was slain because he had provided the authorities with information in the 1994 drug-related murder of a man named Calvin Dooley. Horton was out on bail after having been arrested for the slaying of Dooley.
On December 15, 2005, the body of James Meeks (age 37) was discovered wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a ditch within the park. Meeks had been shot once in the chest. The murder of Meeks (who was from Dallas) apparently remains unsolved at the time of this writing. The authorities are still hoping that someone will come forward with new information that will help bring the case to a close.
The nude body of Linda Juarez was discovered near the park in the 2100 block of Cobb Park Drive on July 23, 2007. In an echo of the 1993 discovery of Melody Ann Odom, Linda's decomposed body was discovered by a man who was searching for aluminum cans. It is unclear whether the authorities determined her cause of death or what the status of that case currently is.
Cobb Park Today
According to accounts crime rates have been decreasing in Polytechnic Heights since the turn of the century. Also, in 2006, Morgan Quitno Press listed Fort Worth as being the ninth safest city in the US with a population over 500,000. Still, it might be a good idea to avoid Cobb Park, considering how many corpses have been found there over the past 19 years.
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Wikipedia: Chante Jawan Mallard
Wikipedia entry for Chante Mallard and the murder of Gregory Biggs.
The Smoking Gun: Chante Mallard
The arrest warrant for Chante Mallard at The Smoking Gun.com.
CNN: Chante Mallard Trial Transcript
A transcript from the Chante Mallard murder trial at CNN.com.
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See Also on TheCabinet.com
Blog: The Sentencing of Chante Mallard (06/27/09)
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C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Second Season
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