Quest for Justice: Harlingen police reopen cold murder case

HARLINGEN — Police had little to go on.

The case had no witnesses, no motive, no murder weapon.

It began early on a Monday morning when Dr. James Hefner’s receptionist opened his office for business.

She discovered the Harlingen dentist lying on the floor in a hallway, a puddle of blood under his head.

The 72-year-old had been shot three times — twice in the head, once in the chest.

Bullet holes were in a wall and there were signs of a struggle, his son said. But there were no signs of forced entry into the dentist office, and Hefner still had his wallet on him — with money in it, police told him.

“He was a kind man,” Greg Desaro, a neighbor of Hefner, said at the time.

“Who would hurt him like that? I hope they catch him, whoever did it.”

Those words were uttered on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003, one day after Hefner was murdered.