Cold Justice: Season 1: Episode 3 “Home Town Hero”

The 1982 death of Charlene Corporon in Palacios, Texas is investigated. Charlene and Gary developed a combative relationship after Gary’s father and Charlene’s husband, Willy, died in a tragic accident. Gary was allegedly verbally and physically abusive towards his mother. One morning, Charlene’s boyfriend called her house looking for her and Gary answered saying, “Charlene doesn’t look too good.” When the police arrived, she was dead from being shot in the head. Although indicted for the murder on September 20, 1982, Gary has yet to stand trial for it.

Police were called to the Corporon home after Charlene’s boyfriend reportedly called her home and Gary told him “Charlene doesn’t look too good”. Her body was discovered on her bed, and although the bullets recovered from her head were fragmented they were later identified as .22 caliber. Back in 1982, there were two suspects in this case – Charlene’s son Gary and her boyfriend. Family and friends told police that Gary was physically abusive towards his mother and he is believed to have injured her on more than one occasion. A former employee reportedly overheard Gary threaten to kill his mother. Her boyfriend was also a suspect early on because several of Charlene’s friends reported that she planned to break off the relationship with him.

The investigation in 1982 led law enforcement to Gary Corporon, and the DA brought the case to a grand jury to seek a murder indictment against Corporon. This is where the mystery or blunder begins – law enforcement believed that the grand jury “passed” on this case, believing the police didn’t have enough evidence at that point. Corporon had been arrested and later released on $100,000 bail. Several years, then decades went by and the case went cold. That is until a new sheriff decided to look into 5 unsolved homicides and Kelly Siegler and Cold Justice got involved. Their investigation uncovered something shocking – they discovered the grand jury had indicted Gary Corporon for murder on September 20, 1982! What happened here? Why were police under the impression the grand jury had not indicted Corporon, and who is responsible for ensuring the CORRECT information gets to those who need it?

It seems to me that this would be the responsibility of the District Attorney’s office. After all, they would be prosecuting the case – did somebody drop the ball back in 1982? This seems shocking to me. Gary Corporon is now 58 years old and is believed to be working off-shore in Louisiana. Former sheriff’s detective Nubbin Chamblee worked the case back in 1982, and he says he was surprised to find out that Corporon had been indicted by the original grand jury. Chamblee declined to discuss the potential miscommunication that led to the embarrassing 31 year delay in bringing this case to trial.

There is no record of the indictment, according to District Clerk Becky Denn. The former district attorney and former sheriff involved with the case in 1982 declined to comment. No surprise there, given the potential issues that have come to light. I believe the current District Attorney plans to re-indict Gary Corporon, using the information gathered from the original investigation back in 1982 and what Siegler and McClary were able to add based on their look at this case. Siegler found new witnesses who saw Gary Corporon with a .22 caliber gun just 2 weeks before his mother was killed. Corporon reportedly showed a .22 caliber rifle to friends during a fishing trip. This could be a crucial detail, given the chances of finding the murder weapon after 31 years is not likely.

Siegler interviewed her father, the town’s barber who knew Charlene, Gary and Charlene’s boyfriend. Siegler’s father owns a barber shop/liquor store in this small town – Siegler’s hand written signs still hang on her father’s wall of the barber shop. That is definitely a small town where everybody seems to know each other, which makes this whole thing even more odd. You would think something as important as a murder indictment would be followed up on – I don’t understand how Gary Corporon could be out on bail for 31 years. Doesn’t the bail bond company follow up on people they bail out of jail? It seems there were so many missed opportunities and system failures with this murder case. Mistakes happen, but it’s truly frightening to think that this may not have even been uncovered had it not been for a new sheriff and Cold Justice.

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