Thursday, December 7, 2023

Bail set for husband of former prosecutor charged in her murder


During her years as a prosecutor in the county attorney’s office, Venisa McLaughlin fought to protect abuse victims from their tormentors.

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, she herself allegedly became a victim of family violence.

Venisa’s husband, Jeffrey Bryan McLaughlin, was arrested for her murder and booked into the Hood County Jail.

Sheriff Roger Deeds said the 911 call came in at 3:20 a.m. Sunday. He said the call was placed by Jeffrey McLaughlin.

A brief press release issued Tuesday afternoon stated that the call was “regarding an assault with mentions of a person possibly being deceased on scene.”

Deputies responded to a residence in the 6100 block of Westover Drive in Pecan Plantation and found Jeffrey McLaughlin as well as Venisa McLaughlin, both 58.

“Both were later transported to Lake Granbury Medical Center, where she was later pronounced deceased,” the press release stated.

As the investigation got underway, an arrest warrant for McLaughlin was issued. He was arrested on a first-degree felony charge of murder and booked into jail just before 2 p.m. Sunday.

On Monday morning, his bond was set at $250,000, according to Deeds.

At the time the Hood County News went to press, McLaughlin was still in the Hood County Jail.

The Sheriff’s Office provided no further information on the incident due to it being “an ongoing investigation.”

Venisa was serving her first year as an elected member of the Pecan Plantation Owners Association.

County Attorney Matt Mills said that Venisa worked for him from the time he took office six years ago until she left “on friendly terms” around the end of April.

He said that he heard of her death on Sunday morning. He called the situation “very tragic.”

“This is a really big loss for our office, even though she (no longer worked there),” Mills said in a text message to the HCN.

On Tuesday, when county employees returned to work after the New Year’s holiday, Mills said that it had been “a somber morning,” with one staffer in tears.

“But we’re getting through it,” he said.

Mission Granbury Executive Director Dusti Scovel emailed a statement to the HCN about the former prosecutor.

“We are shocked and heartbroken to hear the news about Venisa,” she stated. “Our case managers worked with her quite often to get protective orders for family violence victims and she was always very helpful. Navigating that process can be overwhelming to victims who are already traumatized.”

Scovel continued, “Hearing that Venisa, someone who helped other victims during their trauma, lost her life as a victim of domestic violence speaks volumes about how much work we have to do in our community. We have to stop the silence — and the violence.

“I know I speak for all our family violence staff and board in saying we will keep Venisa’s family in our thoughts and prayers.”