Stretch of Central Texas highway named for fallen police officer

U.S. Highway 84 in Axtell has been renamed in honor of Waco police Sgt. John Robert “Bobby” Vicha, who was shot to death along with his parents on Aug. 29, 1989. (Waco Police Dept. photo)
By  | 

AXTELL, Texas (KWTX) A portion of U.S. Highway 84 in Axtell has been renamed in honor of Waco police Sgt. John Robert “Bobby” Vicha, who was shot to death along with his parents, Robert and Zelda Vicha. by his sister’s estranged husband 30 years ago Thursday in the small Central Texas town.

“We got a bill passed in the Texas Legislature that directed (Texas Department of Transportation) to post the signs naming the road,” said Waco lawyer J.R. Vicha, the slain officer’s son.

But under a provision of the state Transportation Code, those who supported the designation must raise more than $4,000 to pay for highway signs.

The Waco Police Officer’s Association has stepped up to get that effort started, the association’s president, Det. Ken Reeves, said.

“We wrote letters to support the effort in Austin and now that that’s done, we’re holding fundraisers to pay for the signs,” Reeves said.

Most of the events still are in early planning stages, but Reeves said the association would make announcements when events are scheduled so anyone who wishes may participate.

Billy Wayne Coble killed Vicha and his parents on Aug. 29, 1989, threatened his estranged wife’s three daughters and nephew with a gun and then locked the four children in a closet.

Then he kidnapped his estranged wife, Karen, and fled.

He was arrested that night after a major manhunt and a brief high-speed chase that ended when the car Coble was driving crashed into a parked vehicle in Bosque County.

Karen Vicha survived the crash, but was hospitalized.

So was Coble, who was arrested after his release from the hospital.

He was convicted and sentenced to death.

He was executed on Feb. 28, 2019.

Coble, 70, once described by a prosecutor as having “a heart full of scorpions,” was the oldest inmate executed by Texas since the state resumed executions in 1982.

J.R. Vicha, was 11 when he was tied up and threatened by Coble.

“Every time I run into somebody that knew (his father and grandparents), it’s a good feeling. And when I hear stories about them, it still makes it feel like they’re kind of still here,” he said.

Donations may be mailed care of Ben Lacy at Community Bank and Trust, PO Box 2303, Waco, TX 76703.