State Police Commander Remembers Newport Woman as "Person of Interest" in Suspicious 1992 Death

AUGUST 3, 2006 -- POSTED AT 6:00 P.M. CDT

NEWPORT, AR -- A Jackson County woman is still behind bars today after being arrested at a Newport church Sunday night. Tammy Estes, the wife of pastor Larry Estes of the Newport Pentecostal Church of God, pulled a gun on her husband during Sunday night's service. Members of the church say Tammy Estes was upset over so-called inappropriate text messages that her husband had allegedly sent to two members of the church's youth group.

As Estes sits in the Jackson County Detention Center charged with aggravated assault, incidents from her past have started to surface. On October 7, 1992, her then husband, Jeffrey Catt of Floral (Independence Co.) was found dead inside their burned home. Colonel Steve Dozier, now head of the Arkansas State Police, investigated the case years ago, but seems to remember it very well.

"During the course of the investigation, we learned that Jeffrey Catt had probably died prior to the fire and gave the suspicion that he had in fact been murdered and maybe the fire had been set to cover that," said Dozier.

Dozier says that Tammy Estes was questioned in the murder investigation.

"We pursued several leads, one of which was some domestic issues, circumstantial leads concerning his estranged wife at the time, Tammy," Dozier said.

Col. Dozier did say that investigators were never able to collect enough evidence to charge anyone and the case has remained open all these years. Dozier also mentioned testifying in a civil trail involving Tammy Estes, of which he couldn't remember many details.

Now that Tammy Estes' recent allegations are in the open, Colonel Dozier says this has definitely sparked some renewed interest in the 1992 unsolved case of her deceased husband.

"I believe the sheriff in Independence County certainly wants to review the facts again and take a look at this again, and see if any new leads or evidence surfaces as a result of her pending arrest and charges there in Jackson County," says Dozier.

Tammy Estes remains in jail awaiting a mental evaluation before her first court appearance. She is scheduled to appear before a Jackson County Circuit Judge at 9 a.m. on August 24.