Charges filed against 3 in connection to Grapeland woman found in shallow grave

Charges filed against 3 in connection to Grapeland woman found in shallow grave
James Henderson (Source: Houston County Sheriff's Office)
James Henderson (Source: Houston County Sheriff's Office)
Brenna Theurer (Source: Houston County Sheriff's Office)
Brenna Theurer (Source: Houston County Sheriff's Office)
Robert Mobley Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)
Robert Mobley Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Charges have been filed against three people in connection to the case of Vanessa Melson, the 29-year-old Grapeland woman whose body was found in a shallow grave in a wooded area off County Road 1737 on July 7.

"Our deputies have been working on this case since day one, and they are making progress," said Chief Deputy G.P. Shearer with the Houston County Sheriff's Office.

James Eddie Henderson, 35, of Crockett, and Brenna Michelle Theurer, 35, of Elkhart, have both been charged with third-degree felony tampering with or fabricating evidence, a press release stated. He said the couple has been in custody at the Houston County jail since July 30.

Felony warrants were also issued for Robert David Mobley Jr., 39,, of Palestine, who is currently being held in a federal holding facility in the "northeast portion of the United States. The third-degree felony warrants that have been issued are for obstruction of justice and retaliation.

When Mobley serves out his federal sentence, he will be returned to Houston County, Shearer said.

"Sheriff Bobbitt is still waiting for forensic and other laboratory results that may provide more evidence," the press release stated. "Pending the findings from the Medical Examiner's Office more charges may be filed. This case is still very active and deputies are working diligently on this case."

The arrest affidavit for Henderson said that on June 17, Jeff Melson, Vanessa Melson's stepfather, saw his stepdaughter leave his residence at about 11 p.m. and get into a gray 2014 Chevrolet pickup. In a video interview with a Houston County Sheriff's Office investigator, Jeff Melson said that he recognized the driver of the pickup as Mobley and that it was the last time he saw Vanessa Melson alive, the affidavit stated.

Mobley and Vanessa Melson arrived at the home Henderson shares with Theurer, his girlfriend at about 1 a.m. on June 17. Henderson and Theurer said in  video statements that Mobley and Melson were in a heated argument that escalated to the point that it became physical, the affidavit stated.

"In separate interviews, both Henderson and Theurer state that Mobley was beating Vanessa Melson as well as shooting her up repeatedly with methamphetamine," the affidavit stated. "Mobley told both Henderson and Theurer that Melson was a snitch and had to be dealt with, so he could wash his hands of the matter."

Henderson allegedly told authorities that when he and Mobley went outside, the other man told him that he would kill him if he called law enforcement.

"Henderson, in fear for his life, agreed to be quiet and, in his words, told Mobley to, 'handle your business,'" the affidavit stated.

In her video statement, Theurer told authorities that Vanessa Melson was screaming in pain at 6 a.m. on June 17, adding that she was begging for her life and to be allowed to see her children, the affidavit stated.

"Robert Mobley would only tell her to shut the f--- up," the affidavit stated. "Theurer confronted Mobley and told him to stop. Then, according to Theurer, Mobley approached her and told her she would be next if she did not shut up and that he would kill her if she contacted law enforcement."

The affidavit stated that as the beating got worse, Theurer told Henderson she was going to call 911, but he told her to sit down and shut up before she was next. Theurer told authorities that because she was in fear for her life that she fled to the back of the house.

About 15 minutes later, Vanessa Melson grew quiet, and Theurer went back into the den area of the home, where she saw Mobley and Henderson facing away from her and looking "at Vanessa Melson's still body laying partially in the laundry room and partially in the garage," the affidavit stated.

At that point, Theurer ran out of the home, and Henderson joined her a short time later, the affidavit stated.

According to the affidavit, Mobley showed up at Henderson's home unannounced on July 4 and asked if Theurer "could keep her mouth shut or would he have to do it for her." Henderson allegedly told Mobley that he would make sure that his girlfriend kept her mouth shut.

On July 7, cadaver dogs found Vanessa Melson's partially buried on Henderson's property about 115 yards southeast of his home. A portion of the body was protruding from the ground. Texas Rangers were called in to assist with processing the scene and to exhume the body.Vanessa Melson's body was taken to a medical examiner's office.

Henderson and Theurer were both arrested on outstanding warrants on July 30. They both agreed to talk to the investigator that requested the arrest affidavit.

"James Eddie Henderson stated he had burned what he knew by personal knowledge to be Vanessa Melson's white purse, cell phone, and all the purse's contents," the affidavit stated. "He continued by saying that he poured lamp fluid on the items to ensure they completely burned."

Henderson told Mobley on June 17 and again on July 4 that he needed to destroy Vanessa Melson's belongings, so law enforcement officers wouldn't find it, the affidavit stated.

In one of her later interviews, Theurer told the HCSO investigator that she had given Vanessa Melson;s boots to a woman in Palestine, the affidavit stated. After HCSO investigators traveled to Palestine and recovered the boots, they showed them to Henderson, and he allegedly confirmed they belonged to Vanessa Melson.

On July 7, Grapeland Police Chief Chuck Franklin said his office had been investigating the disappearance of Vanessa Melson since June 17.

According to a Facebook page dedicated to Vanessa Melson, she was last seen leaving a home on College Street in Grapeland with a man. She is a mother of three children.

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