Two fugitives rob and shoot a woman in her own garage

Lance Bedgood

Lance Bedgood

One day in 1987, 64-year-old Opal Zacharias left her home in Houston, Texas, for work. She had no idea that two men waited in her garage. Their plan may have been to simply rob her, but as she struggled, Opal was shot. She died at the scene and authorities could not identify either suspect.

The killing had remained unsolved for over a decade when it was assigned to one of the most successful cold case detectives in America, Roben Talton. Over the years, Detective Talton has repeatedly proven herself with amazing results. She found her career by accident… literally. In June of 2000, she and her partner were chasing a wanted felon at a Texas machine shop:

“We were told he had escaped three different times. So he was a known ‘rabbit.’   And we figured that he would run from us. I tripped and fell chasing him, but the detective that was with me kept after the defendant.   And he did get him.   I did not want this crook to know that I was hurt. And we walked him down to where the unit was.”

Detective Talton had chipped her left kneecap and fractured her lower leg in two places. While Talton recovered from her broken leg, she was assigned to the newly created “Cold Warrant Unit.”   The unit was set up to trace and apprehend Harris County’s wanted felons. Many of these criminals had been on the lam for more than a decade.

Roben Talton worked the cold case

Roben Talton worked the cold case

After ten years working the street, Detective Talton found herself armed with faded warrants and outdated information. But she proved to have a talent for tracking down fugitives:

“By the time I get the warrant, it’s old enough that I feel like these guys have settled down and they think they’re safe. Sometimes I start with just a name, an age range and an old address. I put together past acquaintances, family members, trying to find somebody that could fit. It’s kind of like a game of, ‘catch me if you can.’”

Detective Talton’s work has led to the arrest of more than 400 fugitives. But despite her success, Talton is troubled by the cases she hasn’t yet cracked, cases like the killing of Opal Zacharias, which she received in 2001. Charles Padon is Opal’s nephew:

“The gunshot wound apparently entered the thigh and came out the back of the hip. So the shot itself was not a fatal shot. But they had her purse and car keys, and ended up stealing the car and backing over her. And that’s actually what killed her.”

A witness reported seeing one of the suspects flee the scene by climbing over a fence.   Later that day, authorities found Opal’s abandoned car, however, it yielded no clues that would lead to the killers. A year later, a police informant identified the triggerman as Lance Bedgood. He was still at large when Roben Talton got the case:

“While trying to locate Lance Bedgood, I came across some post office boxes. Three, in fact, that are still being looked at today. What we’re assuming is that he’s using three different post offices, basically as a mail drop.”

Detective Talton discovered the mailboxes were registered to three of Bedgood’s relatives and paid for by a fourth.   But that’s as close as she got to nabbing her man.