One or more associates of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries are targets of a reopened district attorney’s investigation into the slaying of a woman who left most of her estate to the television evangelist’s ministry.
Vic Feazell, McLennan County district attorney, said Sunday his office is re-examining Ida Lee Baugh’s slaying. He said a reporter’s new information could help him resolve “unanswered questions” about the December 1983 murder.
Feazell said the inquiry was not targeted at Swaggart but could involve “one or more individuals connected with the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries at that time.”
“What we are looking into right now is the possibility of violations of the Texas Penal Code that could include being a party to murder,” Feazell said. “That will be the scope of the investigation.”
Baugh, 70, of McGregor, was found stabbed and beaten with a wheelchair footstool. She died later at a Waco hospital. Her husband, Maurice Patrick Baugh, died of heart failure five days after her death.
A Swaggart spokesman estimated the value of the couple’s estate to be between $500,000 and $800,000. In their will, the couple left all but 25 percent of their cash, not to exceed $25,000, to the Baton Rouge, La., television minister. Jacqueline Euna Warren was convicted in April 1984 of murder in the case and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Baugh’s son contested the will, charging that associates of Jimmy Swaggart ministries exercised “undue influence” on his parents to change their will. Larry Neale Baugh alleged that two men working on behalf of Swaggart Ministries had recommended Warren take care of Mrs. Baugh. Later, Larry Baugh dropped his charges. A source familiar with the case told the Waco Tribune-Herald a settlement had been reached between Baugh and Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Feazell said a National Enquirer reporter approached him with new information he had developed independently.
“The information was believeable, and parts of it have been substantiated,” the prosecutor said. Feazell said his office had investigated a possible connection between the murder, the will and Jimmy Swaggart Ministries at the time of the Warren trial. “Lot of questions came to light in the spring of 1984 – unanswered questions that weren’t pursued,” he said.
“I met with Jimmy Swaggart’s attorneys at that time. After meeting with him, I decided to take no further action. It is not as clear-cut as it was in the spring of 1984,” he said. Feazell said “as material becomes available, it could be presented to the grand jury” during the next few weeks. “It might be something we can wrap up rather quickly, or we could take a long time with it.”