By Justin Cox
Wednesday, July 11 On the same day that his slain wife was to be laid to rest, a Copperas Cove man and four others were arrested as suspects in a murder plot allegedly engineered by the victim's husband.
The Manhattan, Kan., hotel room of Donald Dean Gower, 39, was raided by officers from the Riley County Sheriff's Office at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, only hours after Lampasas Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Sheila Hood issued arrest warrants for five people on a charge of capital murder in the shooting death of Hidi Gower, 31, of Copperas Cove, whose body was found in a pool of blood outside the Kempner Veterans of Foreign Wars post in the late hours of July 4.
As of Tuesday evening, Gower, who was arrested without incident according to Riley County officials, remained in custody on a $1 million bond, pending a formal extradition hearing.
Investigators from the Lampasas County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with Texas Rangers, arrested three men and one woman, all from Copperas Cove: Jeremiah John Ellison, 25; Regina Edwards, 25; John Robert Martinez, 27; and Chaka Romain Johnson, 31.
Ellison, Edwards and Martinez were arrested in Copperas Cove; Johnson was arrested in Lampasas County.
Those four are in custody at the Lampasas County Jail and are scheduled to be arraigned today.
According to a news release from the Lampasas County Sheriff's Office, Johnson had been released from the Texas Department of Corrections less than a week prior to the homicide.
The release stated that officers recovered a .45-caliber revolver they believe to be the weapon used to kill Hidi Gower, whose funeral was held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in her hometown of Manhattan, Kan.
The release stated that during the course of the investigation, officers learned that for several weeks, Gower had been plotting to hire someone to kill his wife so that he could collect on her life insurance policy. At about 9 p.m. July 4, Gower sent his wife out to their vehicle in the VFW parking lot to get something left inside it, police reported.
When his wife failed to return, Gower grabbed someone to go with him outside to check on her, the release stated.
Steve Salzman, the captain of the slain woman's pool team, said he went outside and discovered Hidi Gower lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
"She was a close friend of mine," Salzman said Tuesday of the woman he had known for a year and a half.
He said that since he will likely be a witness in any trial, he can't say much publicly.
"I'm in deep sorrow that she's gone. I really can't talk about the case, since I was there and found her first. She was a good member of my team; she was always happy and cheerful – she was an awesome person," Salzman said.
He said he had known Donald Gower for more than a year before Salzman met Hidi Gower, and he said he didn't have anything positive to say about Donald Gower.
"Her husband on the other hand, he wasn't that great a person," Salzman said. "She was one outstanding woman, and she will be greatly missed. My whole team feels the same. We're playing without one person out of respect for her."
Contact Justin Cox at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7568