4th person charged in connection to woman found in shallow grave back in Houston Co.

4th person charged in connection to woman found in shallow grave back in Houston Co.
Robert David Mobley Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)
Robert David Mobley Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)
James Henderson (Source: Houston County Jail)
James Henderson (Source: Houston County Jail)
Brenna Theuer (Source: Houston County Jail)
Brenna Theuer (Source: Houston County Jail)

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - After he was extradited from Lisbon, Ohio, the fourth person charged in connection to the case of Vanessa Melson, the 29-year-old Grapeland woman whose body was found in a shallow grave on July 7, was booked into the Houston County Jail Tuesday.

Houston County Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt said that he pleased with the progress in the case and that his deputies are conducting a thorough investigation.

Robert David Mobley Jr., 40, of Palestine, was booked into the Houston County Jail on two third-degree felony obstruction or retaliation charges, according to Chief Deputy G.P. Shearer with the Houston County Sheriff's Office. Before he was extradited back to Texas, Mobley was being held in a federal facility in Ohio.

Back in October, Mobley was released from the federal facility and transferred to the sheriff's office in Lisbon, Ohio.

Shearer said Mobley's charge stem from an intense investigation into Melson's death.

Two other people were arrested in connection to the Melson case back in August. 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. The couple has been in custody at the Houston County Jail since July 30.

"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, 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, the man said that he recognized the driver of the pickup as Mobley and that it was the last time he saw Melson alive, the affidavit stated.

Mobley and 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 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, 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 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 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. 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 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 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 Melson.

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

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

Earlier this month, Jon Austin Cheatham, 22, of Grapeland, was arrested in connection to allegations that he and several other people broke into the house on CR 1737 and ransacked it looking for anything that might be related to Melson, according to an arrest affidavit. Cheatham was charged with first-degree felony burglar with the intent to commit another felony and third-degree felony tampering with or fabricating evidence.

The tampering with evidence charge stems from allegations that he took shovels from the home on CR 1737 to dig around the property in search of Melson and then took them back to his residence, the affidavit stated. The affidavit stated that he didn't tell law enforcement that "he had been there, taken the shovels, had any information that might have assisted with the location of Melson."

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