STINNETT, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — It is the local story that has been heard around the world. Stinnett, population 1,403, is in the international spotlight.
Stinnett is a typical small town in the Texas Panhandle—football and Friday night, and church on Sunday morning. It is a close-knit community that went viral this week.
Former Stinnett Police Chief Jason Collier is embroiled in a scandal that emerged on social media starting Tuesday. Now, many across the world want to know what allegedly happened there.
“It feels like we went viral but in reality, it’s just a small town, you know? So we’re living day by day. It’s kind of just happened out of nowhere,” said Aaron DeLuna, a resident of Stinnett.
To recap, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Cindy Barkley said the Texas Rangers arrested Collier on Thursday, Jan. 28. She said the Hutchinson County District Attorney’s office asked the Texas Rangers on Tuesday to conduct a criminal investigation into Collier.
Sgt. Barkley said, “Collier allegedly sent a text message to the victim with a fraudulent government record attached. The document was a fraudulent marriage annulment.”
Thursday, Sgt. Barkley said Collier was charged with tampering with a government document with the intent to defraud, a state jail felony. She said Collier’s bond was set at $10,000.
MyHighPlains.com spoke with an Amarillo woman, Cecily Steinmetz, who posted to Facebook Tuesday claiming she was engaged to Collier before learning he was married.
Steinmetz said Collier sent her a fake marriage annulment document which appears to be filed in the 108th District Court in Potter County.
When shown a copy, Judge Doug Woodburn, who presides over that court, called the annulment document “a fake.”
Collier was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday while the City of Stinnett investigates possible violations of city employment policy. On Thursday, the city said Collier resigned.
MyHighPlains.com has reached out to Collier for a statement but has not received one.
Sgt. Barkley said the Texas Rangers are still investigating Collier.
Friday, our crew headed to Stinnett to hear reactions from locals. That was when they met DeLuna, who said Collier is an acquaintance of his.
“Well, he was a good dude. You know, I thought he was, but uh, he was always being nice and always always a good person to me,” DeLuna said. “You know, I never had a problem with him. I didn’t see anyone else had a problem with him, but I guess he screwed up doing the wrong thing.”
One resident who did not want to be identified told us, “I was incredibly shocked. I will tell you here that I had a huge incident and he helped me. He was kind, generous, and on top of the situation. He was concerned for my safety and made sure to tell me that if I needed anything not to hesitate to call.”
That unnamed resident went on to say, “My heart BREAKS for this family. Both [his wife’s name] and his previous wife have been slammed with messages, calls, magazines, tv series, etc. Trying to get info…Their kids have been treated poorly and [his wife’s name] has been questioned as to why she didn’t see signs.”
When asked if this is the type of thing he would want his town to go viral for, DeLuna said, “No, not at all. It’s not a good thing. But you know, it’s it was his—his thing, his flaw. So I guess you got to deal with it.”