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Mexia: Family of “Comanche Three” reflect on tragic legacy

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:51 PM CDT
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MEXIA, Texas (KWTX) - Forty years ago, three teenagers--Carl Baker, Anthony Freeman and Steve Booker--drowned while in custody of the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office. The teens are known as the Comanche Three, and forty years after their death, the memories are still strong for Baker’s family.

For years, Pamela Beachum said she and her family joined thousands of others celebrated Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing. But that all changed after her brother, Freeman and Booker drowned.

“We would play and look for our friends from Dallas and different areas, and cousins,” Beachum said. “And it’s just not the same.”

Questionable circumstances surround the teens’ death while in custody, though members of law enforcement involved in the incident have long been cleared of any wrongdoing. Baker’s family said Juneteenth, and their family, was forever changed.

“It was quiet,” Lamika Herrin, Baker’s niece, said. “It’s like it went from being the big house that everyone gathered at and had fun at to just being silent.”

While it’s still difficult for Baker’s family to talk about what happened, they want to make sure the Comanche Three are never forgotten.

“Everybody in the world needs to know about something like this, because it could happen to their family,” Beachum said.

In the years after the tragedy, the Juneteenth event became a shadow of what it once was. Now, Baker’s family is working to bring it back, starting with an event on Saturday to remember the three teenagers.

“It’s a healing process, it’s also too, to celebrate their lives and to keep their name known,” Tephany Beachum, Baker’s niece, said. “Especially for us in history, this is history for Mexia.”

“They was brothers, sons, uncles. We want their memory to be known in a good way, not just in this tragic way.”

The event on Saturday begins with a parade at 10 tomorrow morning, before a gathering on Belknap Street with food and live music.

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