Suspect charged with stabbing death of Highlands great grandmother


by staff & Marcelino Benito / KHOU 11 News

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 4:33 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 6:30 PM

THE HIGHLANDS, Texas – Detectives say they’ve finally solved December’s mysterious murder of a Highlands great grandmother.

Caroline Stagner, 72, was stabbed repeatedly before her house was set on fire on December 13.

Ethan Drake, 21, was arrested over the weekend and charged with capital murder in Stagner’s death.

"I was shocked, totally just shocked," said Dee Church, a Highlands resident. "I’m glad they caught who did it."

After putting the fire out, firefighters found blood all over Stagner’s bed and quickly realized it was a crime scene.

"It’s hard to see that happen to a neighbor and so close to home," said another neighbor who didn't want to be identified. "Nice, sweet lady. No one deserves that."

Her children were stunned and said their mom didn’t have an enemy in the world.

"My mother was one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet," said Brad Stagner a few days after the fire. "For somebody to prey on an elderly like that is a sick individual."

The unsolved case left neighbors living in fear.

"It’s like living on edge," the neighbor said. "it’s hard not knowing who you can trust and who you can’t."

News of Drake’s arrest brought relief to the community.

It’s not clear what led detectives to Drake, or whether he knew the victim.

Drake had a couple of previous arrests on misdemeanor theft and criminal mischief in Palestine, Texas.