Murder Under The Friday Night Lights: The Cheerleader Murder
January 21, 1982: Day of Murder
Amy Moody, who graduated from Castleberry High in 1981, recalls coming home from work to a dark house, an open door and blood everywhere. She ran to get her sister, who lived in the guest house. The two of them grabbed a bat and went to the house, where they found their sister Retha Stratton brutally murdered.
Dennis Timmons, who was the homicide detective on the case, recalls the murder and seeing the crime scene for the first time. He gets into the disturbing scene, pronouncing that there was too much damage done to the body and that the killer went overboard.
Lisa Ticknor Gabbert, who was also an alumni of the school, talks about how important football players and cheerleaders were to the school. Fellow alum Rusty Simpson agreed, agreeing that they never thought something like this could happen in their town.
Several of her classmates remember her as the beautiful, well-liked cheerleader who had the cute boyfriend and all-American girl persona. She also had an outspoken, sassy side, which Amy thinks may have played a role in her murder. Both she and Dennis think she put up a fight, especially due to the defensive wounds found on her body.
The Year Before
Susan Brown Davis was a fellow cheerleader and remembered Retha as a fun person. A year before Retha’s murder, she recalled being home alone one night when a man called, asking for her dad, who was not home. Later on, a man broke into her home and attacked her. Sadly, she was not able to ever identify her attacker. She was also not given the rape kit she needed, causing her even more frustration.
She never let anyone know, causing her to get railed by her fellow cheerleaders. Lisa recalled that they were upset at her for not getting a ride to the game and now regrets not being more supportive. She also recalled that Roxy, another cheerleader, was supposed to get Susan, but didn’t because she had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend.
Later on, another sexual assault in a similar fashion happened to Lisa. She recalled the disturbing attack in her own bedroom, including the rape and how he promised not to hurt her or her mother if she cooperated. She noticed him take off his mask when he left…passing her mom on the way. This made it obvious he knew Lisa and her mom’s situation. However, she told her mom it was a friend and went to the hospital with a friend of hers.
Roxy’s sister was raped soon after, leading to things to become more intense and girls taking more precautions. Amy and her sister Rona recall them being careful, but not concerned. Rona also recalled their father telling Retha to be careful due to the attacks, but she said the attacker would have to kill her first.
The attacks kept happening and once Retha was murdered, the investigation went full throttle. Retha’s boyfriend Dale was immediately a suspect, but was cleared due to having an alibi.
Wesley Miller, Roxy’s boyfriend was a new suspect because his car was spotted in the area of the murder. The victims also said their attacker resembled him. Authorities went to go question him, knowing they didn’t have much time.
It was discovered he showed up to Roxy’s house the day of the murder in bloody clothes. There is enough evidence to arrest him. Once he was in custody, he had no remorse as he confessed to killing her, claiming he went crazy after a fight. He also claimed the two were romantically involved, but authorities claimed that this was hogwash.
After the arrest, the victims realized Wesley was their rapist.
After the trial, everyone involved was floored to learn he only received a 25-year prison sentence.
Between 1992 and 2018, Wesley was released from prison six times, each time violating his parole, causing him to be sent back. He currently lives under mandatory supervision at a secure treatment facility for violent sexual offenders in Littlefield, Texas.