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Atascosa County Clerk's Body Found In Ditch

Sept-12-07

The Atascosa County Clerk has been found dead, in a ditch. Fayette County Sheriff's Department announced Monday that Laquita Hayden's body was discovered by deputies near Highway 95 more than 100 miles from her home .

Hayden, 55, who lived in Pleasanton, was found Monday evening in a ditch near Highway 95, east of San Antonio.

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Fayette County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Tommy Tipton told reporters the medical examiner’s initial examination revealed Hayden died of heart failure. However, many people still want to know how how the longtime public official’s body ended up in a ditch more than 100 miles away from her home.

The preliminary autopsy was rushed, and investigators said it appears Hayden, who was wearing a pacemaker, died of heart failure. Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said an official cause of death was pending and that it was still investigating. Additional testing will be done before an official cause of death can be determined, Fayette County Sheriff Keith Korenek said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Hayden's body was in a ditch alongside Texas 95, north of Flatonia, when Fayette County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Tommy Tipton arrived at the scene shortly after 6 p.m. Monday. Hayden’s husband, Clifford Soward was there, talking with investigators, Tipton said.

Fayette County authorities confirmed they arrested Soward at the scene on a charge of public intoxication. He was released Tuesday from the Fayette County Jail.

Fayette County Sheriff’s Lt. David Beyer said Soward did not call authorities, but that deputies were sent to the site where Hayden was found after a nearby property owner noticed a truck had been parked there for an unusual amount of time.

Tipton said Hayden had a small bump on her head and there was a small amount of blood near her body.

Hayden, 55, has served as Atascosa’s county clerk for more than two decades. She previously served as deputy clerk for the office, starting there in 1973.

She was appointed as the county clerk in 1986 to fill a vacancy and then was elected to the position later that year as a Democrat.

Judith Hooge, Republican County Chairwoman for Atascosa County announced Tuesday she would meet this week with county officials and her Democratic Party counterpart to discuss how the county clerk’s position will be filled.

Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Pleasanton with burial to follow at the Pleasanton City Cemetery. Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Atascosa County Sheriff Tommy Williams and former state District Judge J. Taylor Brite.

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