BELTON — One of Killeen’s most powerful families is in court for a lawsuit where they claim a conspiracy existed to defraud them of millions.

The Purser family is seeking a total of $4 million in damages from two local attorneys and their former clients in a suit involving the mental decline of their former patriarch, Gary W. Purser.

The lawsuit has been the talk of the Belton courthouse, with several attorneys stopping in frequently to watch how the fate of two of their colleagues, Killeen attorney Jerry Scarbrough and Temple attorney John Redington, will play out.

The trial began Sept. 4 after more than three years of extensive litigation. Lawyers representing the Purser family rested their case Tuesday.

The case also has drawn the attention of some of the county’s power brokers, including at least one former Killeen council member in attendance and testimony from Precinct 4 Bell County Commissioner John Fisher.

The lawsuit has given a view into the inner workings of the Purser family, which heads Purser Construction and Chafin Purser Inc. Together, the companies amount to one of the largest real estate developers in Killeen.

The family also includes former Killeen Councilwoman and current Killeen Independent School District school board trustee JoAnn Purser.

Testimony has depicted the gradual decline of Gary W. Purser, who died in July 2011. According to testimony and court documents, Purser suffered from dementia in his final years.

Gary W. Purser’s son, Gary “Bubba” Purser Jr., testified through tears Tuesday about how his father’s dementia began to affect his work at construction sites.

Wanting his father to maintain the illusion that he was in charge, Gary Purser Jr. would travel to sites to make sure his father’s directions were not followed.

It is while he was in that state that the Pursers contend Temple resident Melissa V. Deacon and former Killeen resident Mary Denise Bohannon Steele ingratiated themselves to Gary W. Purser and entered into an improper relationship with him.

Their dealings with Purser involved secret recordings of sexually charged conversations. JoAnn Purser called their actions “brainwashing,” when called to the stand Monday.

How it started

The lawsuit originated in May 2009 when a former employee of an irrigation company owned by the Pursers sued them for wrongful termination. As that lawsuit progressed, the plaintiff, Clayton Olvera, alleged that Gary W. Purser had an extramarital affair with Olvera’s girlfriend, defendant Steele.

But the Pursers had already been investigating Gary W. Purser. JoAnn Purser told the court she began in late 2008 to routinely track the movements of her father-in-law by tracing the location of his phone.

That led her to Deaton’s home in Temple, where Purser waited for hours, unknowing where Gary W. Purser was until she saw Deaton’s garage door open, revealing his truck.

When he was tracked to Deaton’s home again, Gary W. Purser’s sister Elizabeth Tipton, Gary Purser Jr. and JoAnn Purser confronted the women.

It led to an altercation on Deaton’s property referred to in trial as the “backyard incident.”

JoAnn Purser shot video of the incident depicting a struggle between Gary Purser and his son. Deaton alleges she was assaulted during the altercation, though no charges were filed.

Another incident took place at Deaton’s home two months later. JoAnn Purser went to the home after her mother-in-law, J. Helen Purser, informed her that money was missing from the family safe.

She confronted Gary W. Purser in the driveway of the home as he counted out $9,300 in $100 bills. It led to an altercation between the two, in which JoAnn was able to take the money from him.

Police intervened after Deaton called 911. She alleged JoAnn assaulted Gary W. Purser, though evidence later showed that the only injuries sustained during the incident were to JoAnn Purser.

Again, no charges were filed.

Ultimately, the family appears to be after the law license of Scarbrough, the Killeen attorney.

They accuse Scarbrough of hiding evidence, perjury, making false statements to police and slander.

Following Gary W. Purser’s death, he contacted Killeen police, Temple police and Texas Rangers alleging the family had murdered Gary W. Purser.

He also filed complaints with Adult Protective Services, alleging elder abuse.

But the main point of contention has been whether Scarbrough hid secret recordings from the Pursers’ lawyers. Throughout the case, the Pursers asked for copies of the recordings.

It was only when Commissioner Fisher obtained the recordings through a third party that they were given to the family.

The civil trial is taking place in 169th District Court with visiting Judge Alan Mayfield presiding.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553

(7) comments


What exactly have the Pursers done that is corrupt ? Better yet......what have they done they YOU witnessed? man......the poor guy had alzheimers was doing strange things and living in a different world...Leave em alone!!!!!!!!


The person you wrote the positive comment hasn't watched the YouTube videos. There was nothing dignified about the treatment of Gary Purser Sr. by his "loving" family. It looked more like an episode of Jerry Springer. Do you have a fist fight with your elderly father who you claim has demintia? The Killeen Daily Herald is only telling part of the story. Why is JoAnn Purser allowed to steal almost $10,000 from her father-in-law? I know if I were to commit an aggravated robbery of a family member of $10,000, I would be in jail. She was elected to the School Board instead. She also videos herself breaking and entering, yelling and her husband assaulting his elderly father. I would have been charged with trespassing at the very least. Temple Police were called, why didn't Bell County prosecute? Maybe because the Purser's are friends with the John Fisher, County Commissioner? Bell County is just as corrupt as the our former Killeen City Council. If you have as much power and money as the Pursers you can do anything. JoAnn Purser, proven bully, should not be allowed to be on any school board.

Edited by staff.


This woman was elected to the school board? Nuts! Killeen is a better place to live due to this family? Sounds more like they are better off because they make money off Killeen.


@aspade...I didn't understand your the preceding comment....Too funny


I am a native of Killeen since 1964. I left after high school only to return to my dear hometown again, after 31 years. So much has changed, yet so much is still familiar and good. One thing that has remained a constant in Killeen is the integrity of the Pursery family, starting with Gary and Helen, down to their children and grand children.

It is heartbreaking that the family patriarch of the Purser family experienced this dementia in his later years. I know that as baby boomers, we all may experience similar situations with our elderly parents, to some degree, and we'll probably be every bit as watchful and concerned as the family was for Gary W.

Parenting our parents, while maintaining their dignity, is a tough job.

I have had the priviledge of meeting and working on projects with JoAnn, Bubba, and their children for the past year. What is most striking about their family is their integrity; their devotion to their family, their friends, their community, and their God. They give their time and their talents to make Killeen a better town for us all.

I'm very proud of JoAnn and Bubba for standing their ground, and demanding accountability in this lawsuit. I know it has been agonizing to deal with this on a daily basis, and still tend to their responsibilities, but they do it because it's the right thing to do.

The city of Killeen is a better place to live because of the calibur of people found in the Purser family. I'm praying this will come to an end soon, and the truth will finally come to light.


JoAnn.......did you get yourself a new alias???????


There they go again. The Purser family after the money.
Too many times they've lied, cheated, and paid off people to get their way. Sad!

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