Bar owner found shot to death during Imelda flooding

CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) -- A man found dead during Tropical Storm Imelda now appears to be the victim of murder.

On Sept. 21, a realtor found the body of Ralph Lee Machala at the end of a long dirt road off of Tri City Beach Road in Chambers County.

"She was going to show the house and they were walking around the home and when they were walking around the home, there was a drainage ravine that is on the north side of the home and they discovered his body lying on the side of the ravine," said Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne.

Due to flooded roads, Machala's body was flown to the medical examiner's office in Beaumont by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office helicopter.

The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound.

Hawthorne said it appears that the 58-year-old was not shot at the location where he was found.

"They purposely disposed of the body in this location because they did not expect him to be found," said Hawthorne.

Machala was the owner of the popular Pooky's Tavern in Crosby.

"He is very outgoing. Everybody knows him. Everybody loves him," said Hawthorne.

The sheriff is urging anyone with information about Machala's death to contact Chambers County deputies at 409-267-2500 or Crime Stoppers at 844-860-8477.

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