HCSO investigator at trial: Nunchucks possibly used in murder of Grapeland woman

HCSO investigator at trial: Nunchucks possibly used in murder of Grapeland woman
Vanessa Melson (Source: Facebook)
Vanessa Melson (Source: Facebook)
Photo: KTRE
Photo: KTRE
Photo: KTRE
Photo: KTRE

CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - The second day of the jury trial of an Elkhart man charged and indicted in connection to the 2015 beating death of a Grapeland woman featured testimony from a Houston County Sheriff's Office investigator and audio of Robert David Mobley Jr. speaking to authorities during the investigation.

The HCSO investigator said authorities believe nunchucks were used in the murder of Vanessa Melson.

Mobley, 41, appeared before Judge Pam Fletcher in the 349th Judicial District Court in Houston County courthouse. He is accused of first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping  in connection to Melson's murder. Her body was found partially buried in a shallow grave.

During the trial, Houston County District Attorney Donna Gordon Kaspar, presented witness testimony, audio recordings, and photograph evidence.

William Roland, an investigator with Houston County Sheriff's Office, took the stand Wednesday, and he told the jury about Mobley's relationship with Melson prior to her death. He said the two had a sexual relationship, and in June 2015, Mobley didn't have a job.

The jury heard an audio recording of Mobley that was made during the investigation into Melson's death. In the recording, Mobley said he went to see Melson at her dad's house after she said she would give him gas money. Soon afterward, Mobley said he saw Melson "was very twisted, on some kinds of drugs."

Mobley said in the recording that he then took Melson to James Eddie Henderson's home. When they arrived, another woman, Brenna Michelle Theurer, was present and had a problem with Melson spending the night.

Mobley told investigators that at one point, Theurer and Melson started screaming at each other. In the audio recording, Mobley then said he left the house and arrived the next day to find it calm.

Roland told the jury that it was strange when he asked Mobley Melson's father's name, and he couldn't remember it. However, the HCSO investigator later found a phone that listed several conversations between Melson's father and Mobley.

In the photographic evidence, the jury saw evidence of a small hand print found on a wall in the house on Henderson's property. Roland said there was also a burn pile a short distance from the home that contained remnants of the jewelry, a buckle, a cell phone, and a glass meth pipe that investigators believe were on Melson's person before she was killed.

Additionally, Roland showed the jury a set of nunchucks, the martial arts weapon investigators believe was used to harm Melson.

In Mobely's second interview, Roland said he found several discrepancies after comparing his interview from the first time months earlier. Roland said that after talking to him the second time, he noticed that the timeline of events were different. He said that originally Mobley said that Melson had gone home, but later changed it to another person involved at the scene, a man by the name of James Henderson, had taken her home. Roland testified, prior to Melson's disappearance, Mobely said he saw another woman, Theurer, and Melson screaming at each other where Mobley said he needed to leave to avoid the drama. This showed Mobley was the only one with a car that night, where the two suspects didn't have means of transportation -- making it a challenge dispose the body.

The defense raised doubt challenging that it could have been possible that the other two suspects have collaborated prior to being interviewed to match their timelines.

The text of Mobley's indictment states that he abducted Melson and held her "with the intent to inflict bodily injury" on her or "to violate or abuse" her sexually and used a deadly weapon (a club or a stick) in the commission of the crime.

According to previous reports, Melson's stepfather saw Melson leave his home and get into a pickup with a man her stepfather recognized as Mobley. He said that was the last time he saw Melson alive.

Witnesses said they saw Mobley beating Melson and shooting her up repeatedly with meth. They said Mobley did it because Melson was a snitch.
In her video statement, Theurer told authorities that Vanessa Melson was screaming in pain at 6 a.m. on June 17, 2015, 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 Vanessa Melson's still body laying partially in the laundry room and partially in the garage," the affidavit stated.

Henderson was also indicted on an aggravated kidnapping charge.

On July 7, 2015, cadaver dogs found Melson's partially buried on Henderson's property about 115 yards southeast of his home.

Mobley was also charged with sexual assault after a jail shower incident that allegedly occurred back in January.

According to an arrest affidavit, Mobley and another man were in the shower on Jan. 27 and the man bent down to grab his conditioner when Mobley told the man "I'm gonna show you what it feels like" and then sexually assaulted him.

The affidavit states the man was able to get away from Mobley and another inmate rose up from his bunk and asked "is everything good?" and Mobley said "yeah" to the questioned and then eyed the other man in a threatening look so the other man responded "yeah" out of fear of retaliation.

The inmate was then taken to Harold's House, where a nurse confirmed that he had injuries consistent sexual assault trauma.

A justice of the peace signed the sexual assault warrant against Mobley on Jan. 31.

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