News Item from the Amarillo Globe News:
Authorities confirmed today that Paul David Gillette, driving force behind the troubled Falcon Club housing development in Bushland, has been arrested on a charge of murder in the death of his wife.
Potter County deputies were called about 1 this morning about a woman being beaten. They were initially unable to find the woman at the address to which they responded, 2001 Las Tecovas, northwest of Amarillo. But after forcing entry inside a locked garage, deputies found the body of a woman inside a vehicle. The woman was later identified as Sherri Michelle Gillette, 44. Also found inside the garage by deputies was her husband, 47-year-old Paul Gillette, according to a news release issued by Amarillo police.
Gillette was taken into custody and transported to the Potter County jail.
Authorities said the couple lived on the property but in separate residences. While Sherri Gillette had filed for divorce from her husband in November in 320th District Court, it wasn’t immediately clear today whether the divorce had been finalized. Authorities today referred to the couple as husband and wife.
Officials today said there were indications that Sherri Gillette had been physically assaulted. Justice of the Peace Nancy Bosquez was called to the scene this morning and ordered that an autopsy be performed Monday in Lubbock.
Okay, lemme get the disclaimers out of the way (because we’re gonna need ‘em).
The opinions in this post are my own. Herein lies opinions, conjecture, and emotion, mixed in with statements of fact. TTAG is not responsible for the opinions shared within. Having gotten that out of the way…
I know this prick. Very well, in fact. In 2002, I moved to Amarillo to try and rebuild a fractured marriage and to be near my daughter. I went to work for an ad agency and wrote TV spots for a chain of car dealerships. It’s how I came to know RF, through his former website.
Late that year, my wife and I purchased a home, and met an insurance agent to provide homeowners insurance. The agent was Paul Gillette. Paul was a good ol’ boy, and Okie, and was a glib salesman. He was starting up a new housing development, West of Amarillo. It was going to be part housing development/part amusement park/part shopping center. Pretty cool plans. He needed a creative guy for his logos and ads. I signed on as a freelancer.
Soon, he asked me to quit my job and start up an new ad agency, as my partner. I’d provide the talent, he’d provide the money. He seemed to be rolling in it – he always had a fat roll he’d carry with him. Nice home. New cars. Beautiful former beauty queen wife. A passal of kids. He claimed that he was making big bucks from Quixtar (the once and future “Amway”), and had big plans for Amarillo.
I bit. Quit my day job, and started the agency. My wife became his administrative assistant.
Within eight months, the dreams had all come crashing down. My wife discovered he was actually financially insolvent – constantly ducking creditors, including the contractors building his development. Nothing added up. Then he started stiffing me. I bailed. Took him to court to dissolve the partnership.
Short story: I won. I got the business asetts and said goodbye to Gillette & Company. But there’s more to the story. Along the way, he went to Federal prison. For skirting the banking laws. Turns out, one of the homes he built, he sold to a couple from Mexico that owned a trucking firm. They were trucking in bales of marijuana and essentially laundering the profits through Gillette. They were paying cash for a home worth at least a million dollars.
Gillette thought he could get around the cash deposit reporting regulations by making $9,500 deposits in several banks on the same day. Mmmm….not so much. He got caught and did three years in the Federal pen in El Paso.
There’s even more to the story, but it’s not germaine to the tragedy playing out even as we speak. Sherri, Paul’s wife, filed for divorce last year. No idea if it was final or not. Paul always struck me as someone who has a volatile personality. He had wrestled in college, and I’d seen him confront more than one person, when I wondered if he would come to blows.
When he went away, Sherri stuck by him, taking over the insurance agency to support their kids. Dunno why they split. I suspect, she might have finally realized that he’s a world-class liar.
Soon, I expect we’ll hear more about what went down last night. I’ve already heard some details – for instance that he beat Sherri, before he shot her. I’ve also heard a rumor that the sonofabitch shot her in front of the kids, then sat there and waited for the police while his children tried to revive her lifeless body.
This is the first time something like this has struck this close to home. Unlike the times where friends were murdered by muggers or died in robberies, this is my first, firsthand taste of domestic violence with guns. And it’s the first time I know all the participants on a first-name basis.
My heart goes out to those kids. If they did witness this crime, I can’t imagine what they feel, but I fear it will scar them forever. My prayers go out to Sherri and her family. We weren’t close, but I respected her for what she did to support her kids, and nobody deserves to be murdered in cold blood.
As far as domestic violence, gun ownership and all the things go that we normally cover here at TTAG, I don’t see that this changes anything. It certainly doesn’t change things with me.
My ex called me with the news. She still lives there in Amarillo. I told her, “We’re both lucky. When we got divorced, we just said ‘ok’ and went before the judge. We were both concealed handgun license holders and both carry pistols. But it never entered either of our minds to do the other harm.”
Of course, neither of us is prone to violence, domestic or otherwise. When some anti-gun activist tries to use incidents like this to illustrate the danger of guns in the home, I point out that this just as easily could have ended with a case of self-defense, as murder.
I’m not going to do a lot of speculation on this. I don’t have all the facts. If and when I do, I may write on this again. I dunno. I’m still kind of in shock about the whole thing.
If there’s any silver lining to this blackest of black clouds, it’s that Paul Gillette will either go to jail for the rest of his natural life, or be sentenced to death. And if there’s any justice in this world (and believe me, in Texas we take our justice seriously), Gillette will get what he deserves.
I’m sure the many families he destroyed with Ponzi scheme that was Falcon Club – the homeowners, the financiers, the contractors, and the employees – are all in shock right now. And I’m sure they are all thinking the same thing that I’m thinking.
We all knew he was a liar, a crook, and a scoundrel, but how did we miss the fact that he was going to murder someone?