It’s been 20 years since Kenneth Vodochodsky helped facilitate the cold-blooded murder of three police officers. Now he’s about to become eligible for parole, and we need your help keeping him in prison.
20 years ago, a coward by the name of Jermiah Engleton ambushed and killed three of Texas’ finest and shot and injured two others.
After making a bogus 911 call, Vodochodsky set up an ambush for the law enforcement officers he knew would soon be arriving. The sheriff’s deputies who were dispatched to this 911 call did what officers, deputies and troopers do everyday all over this nation every day — they went to where they thought help was needed.
Deputy Sheriff Thomas Monse and Deputy Sheriff Mark Stephenson arrived minutes apart and were both shot and killed as they exited their vehicle. When they didn’t answer their radio, nearby Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Miller headed their way to see if they needed help. As he pulled up, he saw at least some of the carnage and put out the call that no dispatcher or peace officer wants to hear:
Investigators suspect that Trooper Miller realized he may have driven into an ambush. As he called dispatch, he attempted to back away from the shooter in his patrol car, but he too was fatally shot before giving any more information.
The nearest officers were in the City of Pleasanton, just a couple miles away, and they heard Trooper Miller’s last words over the air waves. Officer Louis Tudyk and Retired Border Patrol Agent Carl Fisher raced to the scene to help their friends.
Now, let’s pause right here for a moment and think about what they ran headlong into.
One radio call for “Officer Down!” and no response from three Texas peace officers who had already made the scene of the 911 call. Louis and Carl didn’t know what happened to their friends, how many shooters there might be, or where those shooters were. What they did know was their friends needed help.
Louis and Carl also came under fire the moment they came into range of the murderer’s rifle. Both were shot.
With five officers hit and the shooter still having the advantage, the cavalry was now coming, including Chief Deputy Soward, Deputy Guerra and Officer Sanchez. Officers from as far away as San Antonio, 30 miles to the north, poured into the area as the shooter continued to randomly fire at first responders.
Although he remained hidden, with his location now known the tide began to turn and the long standoff became one that he knew he would not win. Like most criminals that prey on those who have not wronged them, he took the coward’s way out and turned the gun on himself.
But it was too late for Deputy Monse, Deputy Stephenson and Trooper Miller. By the time paramedics were finally able to get to them they were unable to be saved.
Vodochodsky was originally convicted of Capital Murder and was sentenced to death. But shortly after, the death penalty sentence was tossed out by an appellate court, which ruled Vodochodsky was an accomplice and not the trigger man, therefore he couldn’t receive the death penalty.
Now, on March 20, Vodochodsky will go before a parole board and faces the possibility of being released back into the community.
We spoke with Sheriff David Soward of the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office.
“At the time of these murders I was serving as the Chief Deputy Sheriff and Chief Investigator for ACSO. I was at the scene while Jermiah Engleton was still shooting at other responding officers,” Soward told LET.
Soward was directly involved in the investigation into the incident, and feels as though Vodochodsky didn’t get the full punishment he deserved.
“I took part in the investigation with the Texas Rangers and also conducted a separate investigation into the theory that there was a second shooter (Vodochodsky) at the scene when the three officers were shot,” Soward said. “My investigation revealed substantial circumstantial evidence that supported that a 2nd shooter was present on the roof of a trailer house as Engleton fired from a nearby brushy pasture. This evidence was not used at trial due to prosecutors believing the case against Vodochodsky was strong enough on it’s on, and it was.”
He’s fighting to keep Vodochodsky behind bars.
“I feel like Vodochodsky has not served an adequate amount of time in prison,” he said. “Parents lost their sons, wives lost their husbands, siblings lost their brothers, we lost three brave brothers and eight children were left fatherless partly due to the actions of Kenneth Vodochodsky.”
“Our community was in a state of shock for a long time and many still grieve over 20 years later. The State of Texas needs to here from citizens everywhere that support law enforcement and justice; that Vodochodsky deserves to remain in prison as long as possible under the law.”
Wondering how you can help? Here’s how easy it is to ensure justice is done.
“I have initiated a drive to obtain as many protest letters as possible and mail them to the Texas Parole Board, in attempt to delay his parole,” Soward said.
Form letters to protest the inmate’s release will be available at the front desk of the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office from January 2 until March 16. If you wish to protest his parole, just drop by the office at 1108 Campbell in Jourdanton, sign a letter and we will mail it to the Parole Board for you.
If you would like a letter to be emailed to you that you can sign and mail in yourself, you can call 830-769-3434 ext. #2224, and request the secretary to email it to you.
Inmates DO NOT find out the names of people who protest parole as a matter of State Law.
Officer Tudyk, whose right arm had been nearly severed by one of the assailant’s rifle rounds, did survive. He did what few would have done. He went through countless surgeries and rehab and re-learned to shoot a duty weapon…with his LEFT hand.
He became skilled enough to qualify left-handed, pass a PT test and return to duty as a Texas Police Officer. Louis embodies what it is to be a Texan and is now a Lieutenant with another law enforcement agency.
Carl Fisher also survived his wounds. He remained an active part of his community until his death in 2013.
To the officers who paid the ultimate price, we will never forget you, and we will never stop fighting for you.
Atascosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Louis Stephenson Age 31 E.O.W. 10-12-1999
Atascosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Orville Monse Jr. Age 31 E.O.W. 10-12-1999
Texas DPS Trooper Terry Wayne Miller Age 37 E.O.W. 10-12-1999