An inside look at the investigation into the murder of Jackie Vandagriff.
On the night of September 13, 2016, Jacqueline “Jackie” Vandagriff – a junior at Texas Woman’s University – walked into a bar in Denton, Texas.
Charles Bryant, the man seated two chairs away, struck up a conversation with her. Sadly, the chance meeting ended in tragedy. Jackie was found murdered the next morning.
Police quickly uncovered evidence linking Bryant to Jackie’s murder, including extensive surveillance footage of the two strangers chatting hours before Jackie’s death
Searching the Suspect’s Home
Although Charles Bryant had several days to dispose of potential evidence, investigators found several incriminating items at his home, including this large military style knife that later tested positive for the presence of blood.
An Early Morning Errand
While searching Bryant’s bedroom, investigators found a receipt from 4:43 a.m. on September 14, 2016 — two hours before Jackie Vandagriff’s remains were discovered. Later, investigators matched the receipt to surveillance footage showing Bryant buying a shovel and cold medicine. An innocent store run? Not quite, say investigators.
Evidence Found in the Trash
When crime scene techs processed Charles Bryant’s home, they searched a large blue trash bin outside the garage. Inside that trash bin was a black cloth satchel that had Texas Woman’s University printed on it. The bag matched the one Jackie was seen wearing the night she was killed.
Evidence Found in the Trash
In addition to the black satchel, investigators also found a large, white plastic zip-tie with blonde hair in the clasp. DNA tests later confirmed that hair was Jackie Vandagriff’s.
Evidence Found in Bryant’s Car
Inside Charles Bryant’s vehicle, police discovered a cell phone battery believed to be Jackie’s and a stun gun [pictured], which had Jackie’s DNA on its electrodes.
While the investigators searched Charles Bryant’s vehicle, Texas Ranger Jim Holland was brought in to interrogate Bryant. Holland is a senior member of an elite team of Texas Rangers, a select division of the Texas State Police. He specializes in interviewing some of the country’s most prolific serial killers.
An Intense Interrogation
During Ranger Holland’s interrogation, Charles Bryant maintained that he couldn’t remember the night of Jackie Vandagriff’s death. Holland suggested they do a memory exercise to help trigger his memory.
Bryant, who first claimed he didn’t know who Jackie was, eventually gave Holland a detailed account of how he disposed of Jackie’s body, including details only her killer could have known.
By the end of the six-hour interrogation, Grapevine Police charged Bryant with Jackie Vandagriff’s murder.
Young Love & Red Flags
While the Grapevine Police continued their investigation into Charles Bryant, there was one woman who knew him all too well: his ex-girlfriend, Caitlin Mathis.
Caitlin, 18, met Bryant, 29, in June 2016. Within weeks of dating, Caitlin says she noticed some warning signs.
In an interview with “48 Hours,” Caitlin described Bryant as “manipulative … a bit of a narcissist … he would say things like, ‘Oh, you’ll never find anyone better than me.'”
Relationship Ends; Harassment Begins
As Caitlin Mathis began her freshman year at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, she broke up with Bryant. Bryant was not taking no for an answer. In the weeks leading up to Jackie Vandagriff’s death, he kept showing up on Caitlin’s campus in Denton and was arrested three times. Caitlin also filed a restraining order against him.
Ranger Holland believes that Bryant couldn’t handle his ex-girlfriend’s rejection, and that he took revenge on the next woman he could find who resembled Caitlin. That woman happened to be Jackie Vandagriff.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he actually mistook her at first… Saw her from behind and thought, ‘Man, my ex is here.’ And surprise, it’s not,” said Ranger Holland. “But I think in his mind that whole night, I think that’s what he pictured.”
Remembering Jackie Vandagriff
In April 2018, Charles Bryant was found guilty of Jackie Vandagriff’s murder and dismemberment. He was sentenced to life.
After the verdict was read, Jackie Vandagriff’s uncle said to local news reporters, “What would Jackie say if we could talk to her? We believe she would say, ‘Remember me. Remember my hopes and dreams for the future, and my plans to get there.'”
Jackie’s family has endowed an internship in health and wellness at Texas Woman’s University in her name.