365 Days of Texas True Crime: Pauline Part 1
Tawny the Rock Chick here, your resident true crime aficionado. As interesting as I find true crime from all over to be, it’s the local stuff that I can really dig into. You could say I’m a bit obsessed with researching stories of murder and missing persons from this area. I’ve spent countless hours reading old newspapers articles, requesting files on cases and sifting through data cases online regarding homicide cases that you probably didn’t even know existed. This area holds more sordid secrets than you may know and I’m going to tell you about all of them, one day at a time. It’s 365 Days of Texas True Crime and todays story goes like this…..
The door to the home of Joe Ann Wolverton’s across the street neighbor was wide open on the morning of December 3rd, 1995. Around 11 a.m. she walked across the street to 708 Beech Street in Plainview Texas. Although some of the streets nearby in Plainview were historic red brick, this one was not. She needed to borrow something from Mrs. Farris, the older lady that she lived across the street from.
As she stepped up onto the small porch she could see the body of Pauline Farris just behind that open door. She had not seen her friend in a day and a half or so before she headed across the street. Pauline was 61 years old and she lived alone. The night before her body was found there was a rainstorm that passed through. Maybe it was the noise from the storm coupled with her age and possibly bad hearing that hid the sounds of a group of men on her porch that night, who had run to stand under her porch to get out of the rain and then attempted to hot wire her car after the rain subsided. Paul Nuncio, Isabel Barrios, Oralia Medrano, Efrain Garcia, Enrique (Henry) Navarro, Angela Ruiz and Olga Villalon had been riding around with a relative of one someone in the group looking for a “bootlegger”. It was about the time they were driving down Beech Street that Paul Nuncio and the driver got into an argument. Who knows about what, the group had been drinking at some clubs and it was just after midnight so it’s likely the argument was nonconsequential anyway. Whatever it was about it led to the driver stopping and kicking the group out in the pouring rain right there on Beech Street. That argument could have happened anywhere and at any time while they were driving around, it just happened to occur on Beech Street, right in front of Mrs. Pauline’s house. That’s how life works isn’t? Then again it wasn’t all that unfamiliar really, one of the group, Oralia Medrano was renting a house right behind 708 Beech Street and Paul Nuncio had been around often.
The group standing on the porch didn’t think anyone was home, there were no lights on and they heard no sounds from inside the house despite all the noise they were making. Some in the group would even say later during testimony that they knocked on her front and back door with no response. After the failed attempt at hot wiring themselves a ride and with the rain stopped, the group left, everyone one but Paul Selso Nuncio, a former security guard who was currently on probation for a felony theft conviction with two other misdemeanor theft convictions under his belt. He testified later at trial that he had never actually met Pauline but he knew she lived there, knew she was older and living alone. When the rest of the group departed someone asked Nuncio where he was going but he didn’t answer. Some in the group would end up testifying that to their knowledge, Nuncio wasn’t under any influence that they knew of when they parted ways that night.
Later on that evening, between 2 and 3 a.m., Paul showed up at a room at the Warrick Inn. He was selling a TV to someone staying there who could plainly see that there was blood on the man’s shirt and arm. He explained that he was helping a friend with sheep and one had been pregnant. He came back again about 45 minutes later to sell a camera, a stereo and some rings. Nuncio threw the rings in a trash can after the man he was selling these things to said he wasn’t interested. Everything else he wrote a receipt for, at the behest of the purchaser, complete with a list of items and the name and driver’s license of the seller. Later on in the morning, about 4:25 a.m., a police officer (Steven Cook) noticed Nuncio hanging out on the corner of Carver Street.
Doing what good policemen/policewomen do when they see someone just wandering around at an odd hour, he decided to go see what the man was up to. He asked for his identification but Nuncio told the officer he didn’t have it on him, he said his name was Joe Nuncio from Frederick, Oklahoma. The officer thought he seemed to be a little confused and disoriented so he administered a series of sobriety tests but it seemed as though the man wasn’t intoxicated and his breath was absent of the tell tell smell of alcohol so when Nuncio asked for a ride the officer obliged.
He drove him to the Givens Street Apartments. Not long after he was dropped off he ran into a friend/acquaintance, Kenneth Brooks. He convinced him to take him to “his house” to pick up a TV he was needing to sell. The house he directed him to was the house on Beech Street, Pauline’s house. The TV was sitting on Paulin’s front porch. After that he had his friend drive him back to the Warrick Inn where he tried to sell the TV. The person he was trying to sell the TV to noticed the fresh blood on Nuncio’s arm and was likely unwilling to be involved in buying an item that might not have been obtained legally. After another few unsuccessful attempts at selling the TV Brooks and Nuncio headed to the Airport Motel & Apartments on Columbia St.
Henry Navarro and Angela Ruiz, two of the people who were in the group Nuncio was with earlier in the evening were staying at the Airport Motel. When Brooks and Nuncio arrived it was around 5 or 5:30 in the morning. He asked Henry is he wanted to go drinking with him but I guess it was just a little too early for Henry so he told his friend no. Angela said that she noticed Nuncio seemed different from when she left him on the porch on Beech street. He “was all drunk”, she said. Having been declined another drinking buddy, Nuncio headed to the room of his other friend, Patricia Lopez, it’s about 6:30 in the morning by now. He tried to sell her the TV he had in his friend’s car but she said to come back when her husband was home. He ended up selling it to another one of the group he was with earlier, Olga Villalon. After a bit he ends up back at Patricia Lopez’s room and asks him about what looks like blood on his boot. He just stared at her and left. Patricia’s mom was staying in a nearby room at the same location. She walked over to her moms room to talk to her about what she saw, about the what looked like blood on his friends boot, a friend that was just trying to sell her a TV he all of the sudden had possession on. While she was talking to her mom, Paul Nuncio walked in and started cleaning his boot. He told the women it wasn’t blood at all, it was just ketchup.
The same time the body of Pauline Farris was being found on the floor of her living room, Paul was asking Patricia Lopez and her husband for a ride to Lubbock. A Ride that he was not given. Later in the afternoon Paul told his friend Olga Villalon that he needed to leave town and he needed money to do so and that he was going to a loan company to try and get a loan.
At the Sun and Loan company, Nuncio applied for a loan in the amount of $150. As collateral he listed a TV, a VCR, a stereo and a four-wheeler. At first he lied to loan clerk about what he needed the money for, saying it was far “newborn stuff”. He finally told the loan officer that he just wanted to take a trip and didn’t think the loan would be approved if he listed that as the reason. His loan was not granted.
Ultimately it was one of the people in the group who submitted an anonymous tip that let police to suspect Paul Nuncio in the murder. Olga Villalon was the one who called in the tip, and after the TV that Nuncio sold her was recovered and identified by Pauline’s daughter as belonging to her mother, on December 6th, a warrant was issued for Nuncio’s arrest. It was two days later that he was arrested after police found him hiding in the closet of a house in Plainview.
Part 2 will be up tomorrow and you don’t want to miss it!