Adult son of Galveston ISD teacher accused in death of his 61-year-old mother, police say

GALVESTON, Texas – Police have arrested and charged the son of a 61-year-old woman who was found dead in Galveston Monday.

Records show Gregory Paul Hartnett Jr., 32, of Galveston is charged with murder and evading arrest in connection with the death of his mother, a long-time bilingual instructor for Galveston Independent School District.

Gregory Paul Hartnett (Galveston Police Department)

Officers responded to a call around 9:08 a.m. about a possible assault in progress in the 2800 block of Pine Street.

Police said Desiree Hartnett was found lying unconscious with severe injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said a witness told investigators that Hartnett Jr. and Hartnett were in an argument that turned physical. Police said Hartnett Jr. fled the scene but was found a short time later in the 2600 block of Pine Street.

Hartnett Jr. was taken into custody on Monday. The Galveston County District Attorney’s office assessed a bond of $300,000 for the charge of murder and $7,500 for the charge of evading. Hartnett Jr. is in the Galveston County Jail.

Hartnett, who was a bilingual program coordinator and taught for the school district for 33 years, retired last year. The retirement was short-lived as Hartnett returned to work for the district to assist with online classes during the pandemic this school year.

“She was very, very beloved in the community. She was a hidden treasure,” said Jeffery Paysse, Bilingual ESL District Coordinator for GISD.

Paysse said Hartnett hired him eight years ago and they quickly became close friends. He said she was beloved by her students.

“I hope that her legacy and her memory is much more remembered by all the amazing lives that she touched and changed and impacted in our community and not by the difficult way that her life ended,” Paysse said.

“Whew. It’s just sad. Really sad,” said former student Cassandra Gutierrez.

Gutierrez said if there was ever a lesson from Mrs. Hartnett that stuck with her it would be to focus on the positive in every situation instead of the negative. Gutierrez said that’s getting her through this tough time.

“She always had good words and everything was good for her,” Gutierrez said. “Like she was so positive.”

Hartnett was a mother of five. She and her husband celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary earlier this year.

A prayer vigil in honor of Desiree Hartnett is planned for Thursday night at 8 p.m. at Ball High School in Galveston.

If anyone has information about this investigation is asked to call the Galveston Police Department’s Investigative Services Bureau at 409-765-3781 or the Galveston County Crime Stoppers at 409-763-8477.

About the Authors:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.