On Sunday, August 22nd , 2021, the Valley Mills Police Department launched an investigation following the discovery of vandalism that occurred at the Valley Mills High School Track and Football Field, located at 1 Eagle Way in Valley Mills, McLennan County, Texas. The ensuing investigation revealed that 16,375 square feet of damage had been sustained to the football field by five perpetrators who were all believed to be juveniles.
The damages were professionally estimated to cost $18,250.00 to complete the repairs. The perpetrator(s) used two pickup trucks identified as a 2000 Ford Ranger and a 2014 Dodge Ram. Further investigation also revealed that one of the five perpetrators had recently turned 17 prior to the crime having occurred. The remaining four perpetrators were all identified and confirmed to be juveniles.
The adult male was identified as Austin James Merenda of Crawford, Texas. The four other perpetrators identities will remain confidential as required by statute.
During this investigation, the Valley Mills Police Department experienced a high level of cooperation from all five perpetrators and their parents in this case. That level of cooperation was also extended even further on Wednesday, August 25th , 2021, when each of five on their own free will offered their individual apologies publicly in front of a crowded room at the Valley Mills High School as they stood before the Valley Mills ISD School Board Members.
On Thursday, August 26th , 2021 following the Valley Mills ISD’s School Board Meeting, the Valley Mills ISD Superintendent requested on behalf of the Valley Mills ISD School Board, for this case to be presented to the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office. Therefore, on Monday, August 30th , 2021, the VMPD coordinated with the 4 juveniles and their parents to be processed at the McLennan County Juvenile Justice Center in Waco. In addition, a warrant was obtained for the arrest of Austin Merenda from the McLennan County Precinct 4 Justice Court in McGregor. On Monday, August 30th , 2021, Chief of Police, Roy Fikac coordinated with Austin Merenda and his legal guardians to report to the McLennan County Precinct 4 Justice Court for a self-surrender. Austin complied and upon his arrival, the warrant was executed and Austin Merenda was brought before Justice of the Peace, Brian Richardson.
Following the magistrates warning, Austin was escorted to the McLennan County Jail where upon arrival, he was booked into jail for the warrant. His bond was set at $3,000.00 / PR. All five have been charged with Criminal Mischief Over $750 But Less than $30,000, a State Jail Felony. On Wednesday, September 1st , 2021, this case was filed with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office in Waco for further review and determination.