Kyle Barnhill booked into Nacogdoches county jail

Police mugshot of Kyle Barnhill, arrested for murder of his wife, Melissa, mugshot taken March 17, 2009
Police mugshot of Kyle Barnhill, arrested for murder of his wife, Melissa, mugshot taken March 17, 2009

From KTRE's East Texas newsroom...Detectives are now back in Nacogdoches from Eagle Pass with murder suspect Kyle Barnhill in their custody.  The plane carrying Barnhill landed at the A.L. Mangham, Jr. Airport in Nacogdoches shortly before 8 o'clock Tuesday night.

Nacogdoches police waited on the landing strip of the airport for the plane carrying Kyle Barnhill to arrive.  During a brief news conference, Lt. Greg Johnson said it took some extra help finding Barnhill.  "Through some investigation by the detectives and through some cooperating people we were able to locate where he was at.  From there we went ahead and contacted the Rangers, the local ranger, who assisted us in getting in touch with the rangers down there we were able to arrest him," Johnson said.

Despite reporter questions, Barnhill did not say a word while getting out of the Department Public Safety plane and into the police car.  Lt. Johnson told reporters Barnhill was being very cooperative, and said police had not questioned him since last Wednesday evening after Melissa Barnhill was found murdered.

Lt. Johnson told reporters all they did was "pretty much talk about the weather."  He also said when they picked up Barnhill he had a few personal belongings and a few items that police would not disclose because it's evidence in the case.  He said they have not located a weapon or gun.

Barnhill will be processed and then booked into the county jail.

Eagle Pass is a city in Maverick County, Texas.  The population was 22,413 at the 2000 census.  Eagle Pass borders the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, to the south across the Rio Grande.

East Texas News spoke with Nacogdoches District Attorney Nicole Lostracco who said Kyle and Melissa Barnhill were separated, but still married at the time of her death.  When asked why police released Kyle Barnhill after they had him custody for hours questioning him, she said she could not share that information with the public.

East Texas News spoke with police in Eagle Pass who told us a Texas Ranger spotted Barnhill in downtown Eagle Pass after being alerted by Nacogdoches police that he was believed to be in the area.  Eagle Pass police say Barnhill apparently was using the Eagle Pass Library's computer to send emails and that's how police were able to track him.  They say he did not resist arrest.  Last night Barnhill was released to the Maverick County Sheriff's office.  This afternoon he was turned over to Nacogdoches police.

Detectives left Eagle Pass about 5 p.m. this afternoon.  Once back in Nacogdoches, Barnhill will be booked into the Nacogdoches County jail, according to Lostracco.  She says a judge will review his bond, which is currently set at $750,000 on the murder charge and $20,000 on the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge.

Lostracco says Kyle Barnhill's first degree murder case will be presented to the first available Nacogdoches County Grand Jury, possibly as early as this Friday.

Investigators would not say what evidence led them to Eagle Pass because "releasing that information might jeopardize the safety of a witness."  East Texas News has obtained through an open records request a copy of the arrest affidavit in the case which stated Kyle Edwin Barnhill had "multiple fresh scratches on his face, arms and upper body, which would consist with someone going through the woods" after the shooting death of Melissa Kesinger Barnhill.

The Nacogdoches Police affidavit also stated a witness saw a male running out of a wooded area behind Melissa Barnhill's house and driving off in a vehicle that matched the one Kyle Barnhill was driving.

Lt. Greg Johnson says catching Barnhill was relief for everyone involved in the case.   "We were relieved for the family and friends and for the community as a whole. We had a lot of people that were worried and that felt unsafe."

A murder warrant was issued Monday for Kyle Barnhill, the estranged husband of Melissa Barnhill, killed after a gunman outside her home shot her through the kitchen window.

In a press release detectives working on the case state: "On this date detectives with The Nacogdoches Police Department obtained information that suspect, Kyle Barnhill, was in the Eagle Pass, Texas area. A warrant for the murder of Melissa Barnhill was obtained and with the assistance of the Texas Rangers and local law enforcement in Eagle Pass, Barnhill was arrested and will be transported to Nacogdoches as soon as possible."

Monday morning, friends and family gathered at Gipson's Funeral Chapel in Lufkin to pay their last respects to Melissa Barnhill.  Barnhill was gunned down in her kitchen when someone from outside her house fired a shot through the window.  She died on her kitchen floor with her two daughters, ages 3 and 10, watching helplessly.

KTRE-TV and is following this story as new information becomes available.