From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Texas pastor charged with wife's murder

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Thu, 29 Aug 2002 14:28:59 -0500

Aug. 29, 2002        News media contact: Joretta Purdue7(202)
546-87227Washington     10-71B{380}

By United Methodist News Service

A United Methodist pastor in Texas is free on bond after being charged in
the beating death of his wife.

The Rev. Michael David Tabb, 41, was arrested Aug. 14 for the murder of
Marla Tabb, 35, in the east Texas town of Troup on Aug. 5. He was released
on a $50,000 bond posted by family members. The case will be presented to
the grand jury, but no date has been set. 

In June, Tabb began a two-church appointment that includes First United
Methodist Church in Troup and Walnut Grove United Methodist Church in a
nearby community. He had been serving as a Navy chaplain since the beginning
of 1998, which was about the time that he married Marla, his second wife.
The couple, both from Texas, had returned to the state from Camp Lejeune,

Accompanied by his lawyer, Tabb had voluntarily surrendered to authorities. 

Tabb is accused of beating his wife to death in the master bedroom of their
parsonage home. Authorities said they found traces of blood on his shoes and
in the bed of his truck. The blood samples are undergoing DNA analysis. The
murder weapon, believed to have been a wooden table leg, has not been found.
The police continue to collect information.

"We're definitely doing a lot of follow-up," said Lt. Larry Wiginton of the
Smith County Sheriff's Department. "We're very aggressive on this case."

Tabb called the sheriff's office at 5:50 p.m. on Aug. 5 to report that he
had found the front door of his home ajar when he returned from running
errands, according to the arrest affidavit. He had entered to find his
wife's body on the floor of their bedroom. Tabb said he had taken their
2-year-old son with him and their 6-week-old son was in a playpen in the
living room. Tabb said he knelt beside his wife and touched her arm then
left the room.

The affidavit reported that traces of blood were found on Tabb's shoes.
Authorities said the pattern of the blood on his shoes was inconsistent with
those of someone walking into a crime scene to give aid. The day after the
murder, detectives found traces of blood in the pickup. Both the shoes and
the truck appeared to have been cleaned, the affidavit said. The arrest
affidavit said the couple had both verbal and physical altercations during
their marriage.

A memorial service was held for Marla Tabb at First United Methodist Church
in Tyler during the Sunday service Aug. 11. Her funeral had been Aug. 9 at
her family's church in Beaumont, Texas.

The Texas Annual (regional) Conference has appointed the Rev. George Helton,
who is retired, to serve as interim pastor for the churches, and it is
providing counselors to children, youth and adults in both congregations,
according to the Rev. David McKay, conference spokesman in Houston. Tabb,
who was ordained an elder in 1996, had served churches in the conference's
Beaumont and Houston-North districts before becoming a Navy chaplain.

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United Methodist News Service
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