Son of community pillar in Galveston charged with murder of his mother

The adult son of a long-time bilingual instructor for Galveston ISD was charged in his mother’s death.

According to the Galveston County Jail, Gregory Paul Hartnett, 32, was charged on Monday night with the murder of his mother, Desiree Hartnett.

Gregory is also charged with evading arrest after trying to get away on his bicycle and is now in the Galveston County Jail on bonds totaling $307,500.

"She was a pillar for our community. She had love for her family, but that also included the community, said Zurisaday Briz, a friend and former colleague. "The community was her family and the community loved her just as much."


Police say on Monday morning around 8 a.m., they were called to a home off of the 2800 block of Pine Street on a report of an assault. 

A witness inside the home told police that the two were in an argument that turned physical. Desiree was severely injured and pronounced dead inside of her home. 

"She mentioned him [her son] a lot during our support groups that we had over the years, she mentioned him a lot about having mental health issues," said Briz. 

Desiree Hartnett was a bilingual program coordinator and taught for the Galveston school district for 33 years before retiring last year.

The retirement was short-lived as Desiree Hartnett returned to work for the district to assist with online classes during the pandemic this school year.

"Her life mission was her family, all she spoke about was her family. She made it seem like it was the greatest job on Earth," said Briz.

Zurisaday Briz, who went to Ball High School where Desiree taught, tells FOX 26, as she grew older, Desiree became a colleague and mentor. 


She was also a pillar in the Hispanic community and an advocate for mental health awareness. 

"Not having enough representation of Hispanic or Latina in our community says a lot and she was one of them," said Briz. "To call her an advocate was an understatement, she was a warrior."

Desiree 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 Ball High School in Galveston.