Tammy Keller pleaded guilty to the Oct. 10, 2008 murder of Cindy Starr, also known as Cindy Fanfarillo, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said in a press release Monday.
Judge Lauren Parish presided and Byrd was prosecutor. Defense attorney was Don Ervin of Houston.
Ms. Keller must serve at least half of her sentence before becoming eligible for parole, and even then it does not mean she will be paroled, Byrd said. She also has no right of appeal.
Byrd said the investigaton required the assistance of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, Upshur County District Attorney’s Office, ATF and Shreveport, La., fire and rescue units.
“Ultimately, through a combined effort, enough evidence was gathered that showed Tammy Keller killed Cindy Starr with a knife on Oct. 10, 2008,” Byrd said. “Initially, it was thought that more than one person caused the death of Ms. Starr. However, as the investigation unfolded, the facts showed only Tammy Keller caused her death.”
He said that the defendant had been confined since Jan. 5 for credit card abuse, because she was captured on video using Ms. Starr’s credit card in December, 2008, with Ms. Starr present.
“Therefore, enough evidence had been gathered up to that point to confine her for credit card abuse,” Byrd said. On March 6, she was indicted by the Upshur County Grand Jury for the murder of Cindy Starr.
Byrd said the murder occurred off of Jack Rabbit Road in northern Upshur County.
He said that while Ms. Starr’s vehicle was recovered in a creek off of Mule Deer Road, the evidence showed that the murder did not take place there.
In January, 2009, investigators with the assistance of cadaver dogs were able to locate partial skeletal remains of Ms. Starr in a very dense wooded area, Byrd said.
“The investigation showed the motive was for drugs, jealousy and how she thought that Ms. Starr was telling police about her activity and that of those around her,” Byrd said.
“Anytime an investigation begins months after someone is killed, very valuable physical evidence can be lost,” Byrd said.”We had multiple conversations with the family of Ms. Starr and explained the case in ful to them. While this sentence in no way reflects the value of a life, we are bound by the facts and evidence we have.
“The family of Ms. Starr, who mostly live in Camp County, approved of this disposition and were present in court for the plea and sentence,” Byrd said.
“I give full credit for this prosecution to the Sheriff’s Investigators assigned to this case,” the DA said. “Once again, they proved their professionalism and dedication in making sure this killer was brought to justice. Again, I cannot stress how difficult this case was in gathering true facts and evidence, but through perseverance, a murderer is off the streets of Upshur County.