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Murder of former football star frustrates investigators - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Murder of former football star frustrates investigators

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JEFFERSON, Tx. -

The brutal murder of a troubled former college football star just more than a month ago continues to puzzle investigators in Jefferson, Texas.

The cheers for Jason Berryman faded away five years ago.when he last played in the Arena Football League for the Iowa Barnstormers. It was a last hurrah for a once fierce pass rushing defensive end thought to have an NFL future when he broke through at Iowa State in 2003 as a Freshman All-American.

Berryman missed the next season after going to jail for theft and assault. He played his last meaningful game in 2005 when he had 3.5 sacks in a loss in the Texas Bowl in his hometown of Houston. Berryman was kicked off the program the next year when he was cited for being in a bar under the legal age. It was the next in a series of run-ins with the law.

Berryman's life ended in a hail of bullets the night of January 8th in Jefferson. Shots were fired through the front window the guest house where he was living next to the home of his great uncle on the town's northwestern tip.

That great uncle, Jefferson Thurman says Berryman's mother dumped him there last summer because she couldn't handle him anymore.

Though he did not want to speak on camera, Thurman said he heard all the gunshots and ran outside, but never saw anyone. Berryman's body was found in this room by other relatives and friends who came to check on Thurman. Ten bullet holes can still be seen through the front windows of the guest house. The killer apparently fired from outside.

 

Thurman says Berryman had a habit of getting high on drugs and then running around his property, yelling wildly. He said he couldn't control his great nephew either.

Jefferson Police Chief Joe Hall says officers had been called out to the home before because of disturbances between Berryman and the great uncle. Hall recalls that Thurman was upset about Berryman's drug habit and inability to keep a job.

Hall says he was sad to find Berryman had died a brutal death there.

"This had a particular impact on me because I had tried to reach out to Jason," Hall says. "I was able to recognize that he had some difficulties in life."

Hall says Berryman reacted kindly to his offer to lead him to counseling, but that Berryman never took him up on it. He also says Berryman was modest about his football days, saying it was just something he couldn't do anymore.

As for the murder investigation, Hall says it's a frustrating case. They've not been able to develop a solid lead or motive. Texas Rangers are helping.

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