‘Dig a hole for a Mexican’: Dispute over money from sale of stolen lumber led to violent confrontation before Waco woman was murdered

LEFT TO RIGHT: Murder victim Elizabeth Romero, murder suspects Jessica Colleen Robinson and...
LEFT TO RIGHT: Murder victim Elizabeth Romero, murder suspects Jessica Colleen Robinson and Betsy Robinson, and Cody Gene Ayers, charged with tampering with evidence.(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 8:01 PM CDT
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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - A dispute over money derived from the alleged sale of lumber stolen from a construction site led to a violent confrontation before the murder of a Waco woman, criminal complaint affidavits obtained by KWTX reveal.

Coryell County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Tuesday, August 23, arrested Gatesville residents Betsy Ayers Robinson, 57, and Cody Gene Ayers, 42, on charges related to the murder of Elizabeth Ann Romero.

Betsy Robinson was charged with murder and tampering with evidence, and remains in custody at the Coryell County Jail with bond set at more than $1 million. Ayers was charged with tampering with evidence and has since been released on bond.

Betsy Robinson is the mother of Jessica Colleen Robinson, arrested in May and charged with capital murder in the killing of Romero, a Waco resident initially reported missing to Waco Police in late April.

Relatives of the victim received information Romero was at or near a residence in the 800 block of Moccasin Bend Road near Gatesville, and during its investigation, the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office received information Romero had been murdered inside the residence at 809 Moccasin Bend Road.

According to court documents, a woman named Erin Finchum, already in police custody at the time on unrelated charges, allegedly admitted to investigators she was present when Jessica Colleen Robinson used a small caliber revolver to fatally shoot Romero in the upper chest in the living room of the residence on Moccasin Bend Road.

Law enforcement officials confirm to KWTX the suspect in the murder case is Jessica Colleen...
Law enforcement officials confirm to KWTX the suspect in the murder case is Jessica Colleen Robinson, 34, currently held on charges of murder and theft of property.(KWTX)

When investigators interrogated Betsy Robinson, the suspect’s mother allegedly admitted her daughter shot and killed the missing Waco woman inside her home, then dumped Romero’s body off a bridge.

Under interrogation, Betsy Robinson, Jessica Robinson, Finchum, and a man identified in the affidavits as Jimmy Rutherford, all document the same version of events: Jessica Robinson confronted Romero inside Betsy Robinson’s home before Romero was murdered.

The affidavits reveal Betsy Robinson told investigators it all started when she called her daughter to alert her about messages in Elizabeth Romero’s phone indicating Romero was communicating with the owner of the stolen lumber. The mother said her daughter and Finchum then confronted Romero about the messages.

Days before Romero was murdered, investigators had arrested Jessica Robinson on a theft charge. An arrest affidavit states she and Romero allegedly stole nearly $300 in plywood from the site of a home under construction. A construction worker at the site recorded video of the women arriving in a 2000s model Chevrolet pickup. The video allegedly shows Romero exit the truck, picking up sheets of plywood, and then loading the sheets into the pickup.

An arrest affidavit states the owner of the stolen property shared the video on Facebook and, shortly thereafter, started receiving messages from Romero admitting her involvement in the theft with Jessica Colleen Robinson.

The truck used in the theft was traced back to the residence on Moccasin Bend Road and investigators learned the vehicle belonged to Betsy Robinson, but was regularly used by Jessica Colleen Robinson.

Betsy Robinson and Rutherford both told investigators that the night of the murder, they witnessed Jessica Robinson physically assault Romero, steal Romero’s phone, and then hold a large serrated knife to Romero’s throat. Rutherford told investigators he intervened, took the knife away from Jessica Robinson, and then left the residence, the court documents state.

Betsy Robinson then took Romero into a bathroom and made her “strip like an inmate” so that Betsy could search for the money from the sale of the stolen lumber. Betsy, the affidavit states, admitted to telling Romero that Rutherford was there to “dig a hole for a Mexican.”

Moments later, Jessica Robinson allegedly used a revolver to shoot Romero twice. Her mother and Finchum, who witnessed the killing, both acknowledged to deputies that they failed to call police or render aid, the affidavit states.

Betsy Robinson further admitted to helping clean up the murder scene inside her home after Romero was fatally shot, the court documents reveal. The mother allegedly told investigators she removed two revolvers from her daughter’s trailer, wrapped them in adult urine pads and placed them in the trash.

The woman was planning on throwing the guns away, but eventually decided to tell investigators about the weapons. “During the search of Betsy’s residence, two revolvers were located in a urine pad inside a black trash bag,” investigators wrote in an affidavit.

The mother further told investigators she asked her daughter and Finchum to get rid of the bloody couch where Elizabeth died after she was shot. She said Ayers cut up the couch with a saw and took it to a burn pit. When investigators spoke with Ayers, he admitted to helping get rid of the piece of furniture, the court documents state.

Rutherford has not been charged with a crime.

More arrests are expected in the case, investigators said.