An eye-witness who placed murder defendant Robert Allen Satterfield at a burn pit near Burr on June 10, 2018, and Satterfield himself admitting six days later to Texas Rangers that he killed a mother, father and their four-year-old son, then leading Rangers to the burn pit where human skeletal remains were eventually found, were eye-opening revelations during trial testimony this week.
Tuesday afternoon Wharton County District Attorney Dawn Allison put Colton Frankum, a Burr area neighbor of Henry Floyd (on whose property the burn pit is located), on the stand. Frankum got everyone’s attention with his testimony of seeing Satterfield and Floyd near the burn pit June 10 while it had a fire in it.
Since the incident had occurred 4 ½ years ago, he had forgotten about it when Allison interviewed him. But Tuesday, when he was sworn in by 329th District Court Judge Randy Clapp at 9:03 a.m., he looked at Satterfield sitting at the defense table and realized he had seen him before … at the burn pit with Henry Floyd. He immediately notified the district attorney who quickly wrote up a Brady disclosure for the defense.
Brady v. Maryland, a landmark United States Supreme Court case, established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant (exculpatory evidence) to the defense.
As the final witness to testify Tuesday, he also said on June 10, 2018 he saw a silver car on Henry Floyd’s property matching the description of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis owned by Maya Rivera.
The burned skeletal remains of Ray Shawn “Baby Ray” Hudson Jr., 4; his mother Maya Victoria Rivera, 24; and his father, Ray Shawn Hudson Sr., 28; were discovered June 16, 2018 in the burn pit some 4 ½ feet below the surface.
Satterfield is being tried for the murder of Ray Shawn Jr. who would have turned five the day after his murder.
Frankum said living in the country, neighbors look after each other’s property. His 17 acres share a fence with Floyd. He said they look out for each other.
He said a few things happened on June 10 that got his attention.
After driving his fence line (which borders Floyd Road, a private road in front of Henry Floyd’s house) that morning on his four-wheeler, he was walking into the house when he heard two pistol shots. He explained he knows the difference from a pistol shot and a rifle shot, but also that it is not unusual in the country to hear gunfire, “so I didn’t think anything of it.”
Later in the day when his wife got home from work she said to him, “Is Henry burning? Doesn’t he know we’re in a burn ban?”
Frankum said he saw dark black smoke, and fearing maybe a tractor was on fire, retrieved his binoculars to look. There were some flames above the burn pit, but dark black smoke was rising rather than the more common white smoke caused by brush and garbage. He testified that from his experience rubber products such as tires cause black smoke, and burning rubber burns hot and long, helping to keep fires going. He saw two men “tending to the fire,” so he felt everything was under control.
Asked how he recognized Satterfield, he said, “He stood out being a white man with a Black family.”
And asked about the gray Hyundai, Frankum said he’d “never seen it before, and haven’t seen it since.”
June 16, after being gone from home for a couple of days, he returned to find a flyer on his door with a picture of the three victims. He said he tossed it in the trash because he didn’t know them and didn’t think he’d ever see them. Soon thereafter his wife said there was a helicopter overhead.
Frankum said a helicopter was flying slow and low over the Floyd property. He got his binoculars and saw it was a Texas Rangers helicopter. He also saw “more than a dozen” law enforcement vehicles on his neighbor’s property. Realizing the flyer and the activity across the fence might have a connection, he retrieved the flyer from the trash can.
He also saw Floyd’s orange backhoe being operated. He didn’t know by whom, but said he thought it was a Black man. Ranger David Chauvin later testified Floyd offered to run the backhoe to help find remains.
Satterfield Confesses To Rangers
Satterfield had a story that he stuck with until June 16 when Henry Floyd convinced him to tell the truth. He had told everyone who interviewed him after his arrest that he had not seen Maya, Ray or Baby Ray since about 8, no later than 8:30 p.m. on June 10 when they parted ways from Travis Park in Richmond.
He said the family came to Floyd’s property after church June 10 with two vehicles, Maya’s gray Hyundai and Ray’s black vehicle, which was the first hole in his story. Maya’s mother, Francis Rivera of Angleton, had testified Monday that Ray had totaled his black car about a month earlier.
Satterfield told investigators Ray got out of the car, they visited and smoked for 5-10 minutes, then drove to Richmond. He said he rode with Ray, while Maya and Baby Ray were in her car. They ended up at Travis Park where they visited and smoked for two to three hours, he said, with Maya loaning him her car and the family taking Ray’s black car.
Mrs. Rivera had told investigators there was no way Maya would let anyone drive her car. When asked why Maya would loan him her car, Satterfield said he didn’t really know. Satterfield also could not explain why Maya and Ray had driven two vehicles from Angleton to Floyd’s property.
The morning of June 16, Texas Ranger David Chauvin and Det. Jonathan White of the Angleton Police Department, were at Floyd’s place. He accompanied them around his property but nothing turned up. Chauvin called the Fort Bend County Jail to ask who Satterfield had called. Knowing calls had been made to him, Floyd asked a question.
He asked what would happen for not telling the truth. Chauvin told him, “You could go to jail.”
“The Lord told me to tell the truth. It’s been on my conscience,” he said, adding he’d seen the bodies.
“I’m not going to run y’all around any longer,” Floyd said. He said he’d “seen the bodies of the little boy and the girl (Maya)” on the ground, and he’d seen the man in the hole (burn pit).
Chauvin told him, “I’m glad God gave you the strength to come forward and say something.”
He told the Ranger Satterfield had “shot the dad back in the hole,” and that the mother and son were lying near a house on his property not far from the burn pit.
Asked how he knew they were dead, Floyd reportedly said the man was face down in the hole, and the mother and boy weren’t moving.
Floyd also apologized for not coming forward. “Now that I know he’s in jail, he can’t get back at me.”
Late June 15 or early June 16, Chauvin went to the burn pit and found a brass shell casing about two feet away from the edge of the burn pit. He marked it with a survey flag. He later said he had parked near where the mother and child had been shot, and later, with Satterfield showing him where Maya and Baby Ray had been shot, he located two more brass shell casings.
At 7:45 a.m. June 16, Chauvin and Ranger James Wilkins started interviewing Satterfield. After not getting a confession, they invited Floyd into the room.
It had been established that Satterfield grew up in the foster care system, and there was no father listed on his birth certificate. Satterfield and Floyd’s daughter had a son together, and Floyd had become the closest thing he had to a father.
Floyd was invited into the interview room at 8:48 a.m. After still not getting anywhere, Satterfield asked to speak alone with Floyd. Cuffs were moved from in front of his body to behind his body, and a door was left cracked.
“I’m never going to see (his 2-year-old son) again. I won’t get to see him play,” Satterfield told the grandfather. Floyd said, “Yes you will. I’ll take him to see you.”
“I don’t know what to do man, I don’t know what to do ... Man to man, what would you suggest?” Satterfield said.
“You’ve got to come clean,” Floyd said.
“I’m only worried about my child. I’m not worried about myself. I don’t have too much to live for anyway,” Satterfield said.
He then apologized to Floyd. “I’m sorry man.” A couple of minutes later he agreed to confess, and the Rangers made plans to return him to the Floyd property.
Satterfield told the Rangers, “The only reason I’m confessing is for this man. It’s only because of him and his family.”
He admitted to the Rangers that the bodies were somewhere on the property, that he’d show them where the bodies were, and that he had transported bodies in the gray car.
At about 10:54 a.m. they arrived on the Floyd property. Satterfield asked to pray by himself, and for a cigarette.
He started walking toward the burn pit, and paused several times, not leading them to the exact location where the bodies were. He even led them to a water hole, saying that is where he put the bodies. He didn’t.
Chauvin testified Thursday he felt Satterfield “was stalling. He was playing with us.”
He finally took the Rangers to what turned out to be the right location. He told the Rangers the bodies were about 12-14 inches under the dirt. They weren’t. With a backhoe later that day, Rangers found what appeared to be human bones and teeth about 56 inches underground.
While Rangers were still digging, Chauvin took Satterfield to where he said he’d shot the boy and his mother, telling the Ranger he’d shot the mother in the abdomen and the head.
Satterfield said Baby Ray, who was still in the car, started screaming, “You shot my mama! You shot my mama!” He said he took the boy out of the car and carried him where his mother was and shot him.
Asked why he shot Ray, he said they were “having a rough conversion ... an angry tone in his voice.” He said Ray had a knife, so he shot him. He said he used a silver and black 9mm semi-automatic handgun, but he didn’t say where the gun was.
Since Satterfield would not give Rangers any more information on exactly where the bodies were, he was taken back to the Fort Bend County jail.
Sometime after 5:30 p.m. June 16 bones and teeth were found. A forensic anthropologist from Sam Houston State University went to the scene and identified the bones and teeth as being human, not animal.
At that point Chauvin prepared an affidavit for an arrest warrant on the charge of murder.
There is a misconception circulating regarding Robert Allen Satterfield. He is not related to Dr. Robert Satterfield who used to practice in Wharton and is currently in Rosenberg. The defendant does not know his birth father, and his mother abandoned him. He grew up in the foster care system.