East Texas Train Deaths Ruled Suicides

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HAWKINS, Texas — Authorities say that the deaths of two East Texas teenage boys who were struck by a train as they lay on the tracks have been ruled "consistent with suicide."

Initially, Hawkins police also concluded that the boys had committed suicide, but their survivors insisted that it could have been foul play. So Texas Rangers, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office examined the evidence.

"We do have evidence consistent with suicide, tragically, horribly and horrifyingly," said Wood County District Attorney Jim Wheeler, who presented the case to a grand jury Aug. 7.

"No indictment has been returned, and the investigation of the case has been suspended," he said Thursday. "The case is not closed because there is no statute of limitations for murder. Anything could have happened in that last hour of life. Should there be additional information that comes to us, we can reopen the case in 30 years."

Christopher Hill, 17, and Harry "Ishmael" Rutledge, 15, were killed Sept. 21 after they apparently laid across the tracks in Hawkins, about 90 miles east of Dallas. On Sept. 17, they had escaped from Azleway Boys' Ranch in Tyler.

Hill's older brother said he still couldn't believe that it was suicide.

"For them to sit down and let a train run them over, I just don't believe it," Randy Hill told The Dallas Morning News for its Friday editions.