Friends recall El Campo couple as murder investigation continues
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EL CAMPO - They came to see where it happened.
"Oh God," Marquita Williams said.
She held her hand to her face, to block out the smell. While there was no blood visible, the sickly smell of death had soaked into the cheap plywood of the old forest-green shed.
She stood in the entrance of the shed, looking down.
"She was a sweet person, never turned anybody down, always willing to help. She didn't deserve this," Williams said Wednesday.
This was where her friend Brandy Cerny's body had been found on Tuesday, in this shed at the back of an empty lot, surrounded by a grove of scraggly pecan trees and tall grass that hid the place from the roadside.
Her body was discovered, slumped halfway out of the shed, just hours after her two sons had been shot in a hotel room in Laredo. The little community of El Campo has been shaken in the wake of the tragedy.
"It's difficult," El Campo Police Chief Terry Stanphill said. "We have suicides and fatalities, but this is the first murder we've had here in eight years."
The last time Brandy Cerny and her children were seen together, they were leaving church at 12:30 p.m. Sunday with Demond Bluntson, her boyfriend.
"The last time they were seen together, everything seemed OK," Stanphill said.
But by Monday morning, Cerny's father, Lloyd Cerny, filed a missing person's report after his 28-year-old daughter failed to show up for work at the Texana Center, a behavioral center in Columbus.
On Tuesday afternoon, Cerny's sons were found with Bluntson in a Laredo hotel room. The 36-year-old El Campo man began shooting through the door of the hotel room on the 14th floor of the Holiday Inn-Civic Center when Laredo police officers arrived. Cerny's 21-month-old son, Davian Bluntson, was found dead at the scene and her 6-year-old son, Jaydin Thompson, was critically injured.
He was taken to University Health System in San Antonio on Wednesday morning, where he is listed in critical condition, Laredo Police Department Investigator Joe Baeza said. Jaydin has been on life support since the shooting.
Cerny's body was found about 5 p.m. Tuesday in a field between the 700 and 800 blocks of Dunlap Street in El Campo.
Stanphill said the investigation is ongoing, but a preliminary autopsy indicates she was shot and died at the scene.
The Rev. Harold Simmons owns the property where her body was found. When the community learned that Cerny was missing, Simmons said he knew they should look in that spot. Blunston's father lives in a small white house next to the field and Blunston was always back there near the shed, working on cars or just hanging out.
"When we heard the girl was missing, but the kids had been found like that in Laredo, we knew where to look," Simmons said. "This is devastating for our whole community."
As Stanphill removed the crime scene tape, people began flocking to the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
The Laredo Police Department has been assisting in the investigation since receiving a tip from El Campo police that Bluntson had arrived in Laredo on Tuesday.
Stanphill said the two departments will continue working together on the case.
The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office assisted in the investigation on Tuesday evening in El Campo, offering the use of their crime lab at the scene. The Wharton County Sheriff's Office also has offered assistance, Stanphill said.
Baeza said the Texas Rangers have also been called in to help handle complications that may arise from the murders happening in two jurisdictions.
Bluntson is being held in Laredo. Baeza said Blunston has not spoken about his motive or the circumstances of the killings.
The motive is unknown, but Stanphill said friends and family have confirmed that Cerny and Bluntson had a tumultuous relationship. Bluntson was the father of her younger son, Davian.
Stanphill said the district attorney will determine what charges will be filed, which can range between murder and capital murder. Bluntson is expected to face charges in Laredo and El Campo, Stanphill said.
After working with the Webb County District Attorney, Bluntson was charged with capital murder of a child under 6 years old, two counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer with a deadly weapon and one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Baeza said Blunston may face more charges if Jaydin does not survive.
In El Campo, Williams began making her way back through the brush, cutting a path through weeds that towered over her head. Her lips were pressed in a firm line and she shook her head once, a sharp jerk.
She had known Cerny since grade school. They played together, grew up together, played on the same teams in school, graduated high school together. Thinking of her friend, she remembered her face, the wide smile that filled her whole face, making her brown eyes sparkle.
She lived for her children. The pictures showed her arms flung around them, grinning, holding them close. Davian was too young for Williams to know very well, but at 6 years old, Jaydin was making his plans for the future. When someone told him how fast he was growing, he said he was going to be a football player when he grew up.
"She loved those boys," Williams said. "They were her life."
Sitting on his front porch, Simmons fixed his eyes on the spot where her body had been found, watching Williams walk away. They had been barbecuing near there, celebrating Juneteenth, just hours before the discovery.
Simmons has known Blunston for years, he said, a man who liked to discuss ways to improve the community, how they could help the neighborhood youth.
The breeze shook the leaves in the trees, a steady whoosh, and the cicadas rattled high overhead. Simmons looked down at his hands for a moment, shaking his head.
"You just can't see that far into someone's personality, I guess," he said. "If they only show you their best face, you never know what they're capable of."