Shepherd man pleads guilty to ‘body in barrel’ murder case

Texas Ranger Ryan Clendennen (third from the left with back to the camera) addresses other members of the Texas Rangers and state police at a property on Cherry Creek Drive in Shepherd in September 2019. The Rangers removed a pungent-smelling barrel from the ground using a trackhoe.

Four years after the grisly murder of 56-year-old Shepherd man Kirk Buik, the San Jacinto County District Attorney’s Office has wrapped up the prosecution of the second defendant in that case.

On Wednesday, March 22, in the courtroom of 258th State District Judge Travis Kitchens, the defendant – Jack Gonzales, also known as “Mexican Jack” – pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The sentence was an amended plea deal between Gonzales and the DA’s office. Originally, Gonzales, 63, had been offered a 20-year deal, which was rejected. As some of the witnesses to the crime were less-than-reliable, the DA’s office agreed to the 15-year plea deal as it will prevent Gonzales from appealing the sentence. The other defendant – Matthew David Greenwood, 61 – is already in state prison on the murder charge. He took a similar plea deal, according to District Attorney Todd Dillon.

“There are two narratives, according to the witnesses. Some said that Mr. Greenwood told Jack to kill the victim. Then there is another narrative that Mr. Greenwood killed the victim, but Jack helped,” Dillon said.

According to Dillon, witnesses said the motive for the killing was the theft of a firearm. Greenwood and Gonzales believed that Buik had stolen it from them.

Greenwood and Gonzales lived on what Dillon described as a “compound” on the 700 block of Cherry Creek Road in Shepherd. The property was known as a haven for drug users. Buik, who lived nearby in a FEMA trailer, was a frequent visitor to the property.

On the day of the murder, Buik was lured to the property by Greenwood and Gonzales. When he arrived, he was seated in a common area that was surrounded by rundown trailers on the compound. Gonzales reportedly came up behind Buik and struck him on the head with a hatchet. Once on the ground, Gonzales continued bludgeoning him, inflicting injuries all over Buik’s body.

Kirk Buik

While he was still alive, Greenwood and Gonzales reportedly poured bleach on Buik and covered him with a tarp. He was then placed inside a metal 50-gallon drum, while possibly still alive. The barrel then was placed in the ground under a tool shed.

Buik went missing in July 2019. In late August 2019, the Texas Rangers launched an investigation, led by Ranger Ryan Clendennen, who was assigned to San Jacinto County at the time.

By late September 2019, the investigation had led to the identity of two suspects – Greenwood and Gonzales. Texas Rangers, assisted by the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety, conducted an extensive search of the property, eventually finding a pungent-smelling barrel containing human remains. It was unearthed by the Rangers and state police using a track hoe.

DNA testing later confirmed that the body was Buik.

Dillon said he was reluctant to accept the amended plea deal, but thought it was the best course of action for Buik’s family.

“I talked to the family and discussed the options. I told them if he pleaded guilty, then it’s over and done. I don’t like doing plea deals like this. We could have tried the case and spent weeks, and got a 20-year sentence, but then we could have spent another five years on the case in appeals,” Dillon said.

Greenwood is no stranger to murder cases. He previously was sentenced in 1978 to 10 years in prison for murders in Harris County. Greenwood and his brother, William Thad Greenwood, were suspected of several murders in the Baytown area.

William Thad Greenwood, previously of Hull, Texas, is now serving a life sentence in prison on a case in Liberty County for raping his granddaughter. He previously was convicted of the 1978 murder of Lucille Deborde, who was 14 when she disappeared in Highlands, Texas. Her strangled body was found hidden under a stack of logs on William Greenwood’s property.

The two brothers abducted a second known victim, Diane Rose Hall, on May 22, 1978, while she was walking in her Highlands, Texas, neighborhood. She was the mother of five children. Like Deborde, Hall was brutally raped and strangled. Her body was found near where Deborde was dumped on Greenwood’s property.

At the time of William Greenwood’s sentencing in Liberty County, Tami Pierce, who at the time prosecuted the case, believed that the two brothers were responsible for more murders, including two women who were found on July 10, 1978, at a family property owned by the Greenwoods.

William Greenwood will serve the rest of his life in prison. Matthew Greenwood is already eligible for parole with an expected release date of Sept. 25, 2031, if he is not paroled early. Gonzales is still in the process of being transferred to a state prison, so his parole eligibility date is not yet available.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Sick pieces of shit! They deserves the same thing done to them as they done to Kirk. Let them out and they will just kill again. Simple as that! Keep them off our streets! We don’t want you roaming our streets! Throw away the keys

  2. Yay go justice system. Arrested for murder before and guess what did it again. Stop sending these people to prison and just shoot them on the spot. Simple and cheap. Won’t cost taxpayers anything but a single bullet.

  3. This Greenwood is one sick individual that does not need to be released out of jail. Rumour has it in this little town the daughter and his own wife were there when Kirk was killed. Mother and daughter are pieces of work themselves. Meth heads is what the whole town will tell you. This Greenwood is a serial killer. Let him out he will kill again just hope his grand kids are no where in site. How would this idiot feel it someone stuffed his family in a barrell or rapped one of his own. His killings and gore go way back.

    • Well Wendell. This is all I know. U speak about how wrong this man is but was u there? But ur here making statements about the wife and daughter like u know them . I only have 2 things to say,1 ppl should not judge ppl with out all the facts. And 2 how would I like it if one of ur family done something and then someone like urself gets on social media and makes false accusations against ur ppl who had none to do with it. U need to keep ur words in check my friend. U talking out the side of ur neck on these ladies can damage their lives and ur speaking as if it is facts and putting innocent ppl in something u think u know about who may or may not be anything like u comment here so please ifcu got something to comment about. Leave ppl who are not involved out of it . U have no right to speak on ppl who are not listed . That’s wrong. Thanks

  4. Crazy how he has multiple murders under his belt and has never gotten more than 20 years for anything. Guess we can all just kill whoever we want knowing it won’t be that long till we get out. Go ‘Murica

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