Man charged in cold murder case of 66-year-old man Melvin Walker, Galveston police say

ByCourtney Fischer, Daniela Hurtado, and Derrick Lewis KTRK logo
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
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Galveston police arrested a man in a 2019 murder and believe he may be connected to another homicide.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Detectives with the Galveston Police Department announced the arrest of a suspect in the March 2019 murder of 66-year-old Melvin Walker, whose case had been classified as a cold case until now.

Galveston police said new information and technology brought the case closer to justice. Ernest Pierre, 42, is currently in the Galveston County jail being held on a $500,000 bond. Additionally, detectives confirmed to ABC13 that Pierre is considered a person of interest in a second cold case: the unsolved murder of Donna Brown.

ABC13 featured Brown's case in a 2019 episode of Unsolved, sharing an exclusive video of a man Galveston police would only describe at the time as a "person of interest."

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More than three years ago, Walker's body was discovered on a sidewalk by a resident in the 3800 block of Avenue P1/2, but officers didn't believe he was killed there.

Police say Walker was beaten to death, his body then wrapped in a rug and plastic before he was dumped. At the time, officials described the homicide as "an extremely unusual scene."

An affidavit explained Walker suffered possible stab wounds to his face and was hit several times in his head and chest.

"Early on in the investigation, Ernest Dynell Pierre was identified as a suspect in this case," Sgt. Derek Gaspard said.

"They just didn't have the physical evidence, until eight months ago. There's been some advances in technology that have allowed for more specific or sensitive DNA testing to be done," Michelle Sollenberger, the lead detective in the case, said.

Sollenberger received results from the DNA testing that showed Pierre's DNA on a rag that police found in Walker's mouth, according to an arrest affidavit. After a warrant was issued Friday, she says she let Walker's family know the latest.

"Elation. (They were) surprised, very surprised, because, again, we fall into that trap of cold cases stay cold, and they didn't think it was ever going to be solved," Sollenberger said. "So, they were ecstatic."

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Walker's friend, Belinda Page, described him as someone who would do anything and not expect anything in return. She set up a fundraiser, at the time, to help his family move his body to Louisiana.

As for the investigation into Donna Brown's murder, police say the case is no longer considered cold. The investigation has been reopened now that Pierre has officially been named a person of interest.

On Aug. 5, 2018, nearly eight months before Walker was stabbed to death, Brown was stabbed to death in the doorway of the Alcoholics Anonymous building, where she volunteered.

One year later, ABC13 partnered with Galveston police, profiling Brown's case in our in-depth cold case series, Unsolved. We released an exclusive video of the person investigators called a "person of interest."

According to Pierre's arrest affidavit, police determined through "eyewitness statements and video surveillance that Ernest Pierre was seen entering and exiting the building at and around the time of the murder."

"We're taking a harder look at that," Sollenberger said, in reference to Brown's unsolved murder.

She held back details of the ongoing investigation.

"We don't want to tip our hand," she said. "We really want to bring justice to the family of Donna Brown as well."

Brown's family says the latest developments are something they've been waiting for, for a long time.

"This is what we've been hoping for. And we've been wanting to do whatever we can do to make this come to fruition. Such exciting news," Brown's niece, Elizabeth Rogers, said. "It just makes me really, really sick that another person died after my aunt.

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Rogers asks people in the community to speak up if they know or saw something to speak up and reach out to authorities.

No motive has been determined for either killing.