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Denton police officer accused of biting wife during argument

Denton police Detective Eric Beckwith was placed on administrative leave Monday after his wife accused him of biting her left arm during an argument over their phones, according to an arrest affidavit.  

Beckwith, who was hired by the department in 2002, was taken to Denton City Jail on a misdemeanor charge of assault family violence. His bail was set at $2,500, and Denton police are continuing the criminal investigation.  

A Denton patrol officer and patrol supervisor responded to the assault call at 5:30 a.m. at a south Denton home. They spoke to both Beckwith and his wife, who are currently separated, police said. 

According to the affidavit, Beckwith had been going through his wife's phone while she tended to their baby. When she noticed him, she became upset and grabbed his phone out of his hands, the affidavit said. 

Beckwith said she was waking the baby so he tried to get the baby from her. He told officers that "he may have accidentally" bit her while trying to get the baby, but he said he didn't intend to hurt her. Police said they observed a clear bite mark on the woman's arm. 

The woman said she handed the baby to Beckwith after the altercation and went into the bathroom. She said he kicked the door open and tried to keep her from dialing 911. Police said they saw a hole in the door. 

Denton police spokesman Bryan Cose said the department would not release Beckwith's jail booking photograph until an indictment by a grand jury. Unless Beckwith gives written consent, Cose said they're not allowed to release the photo under section Sec. 143.090 of the local government code.

The detective had been the lead investigator into Kelli Cox's disappearance since 2011. In one of the most notable cold cases at the department, Cox disappeared from Denton on July 15, 1997, following a tour of the city jail during a class trip while a student at the University of North Texas. 

Her remains were found in April 2016 in a pasture about 30 minutes south of Houston. A Brazoria County grand jury indicted William Reece in December in connection with the kidnapping and killing of Cox, 20.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.