On the night of her fatal injury, Britney Eylar sent several desperate text messages to different friends, pleading for someone to come pick her up.
“Hold off,” she would later warn in a text sent at 8:33 p.m. New Year’s Day. “This dude is back and he’s crazy. I don’t want any drama for y’all.”
Five minutes later, Eylar, 22, again begged for a ride, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained Tuesday by the Star-Telegram.
“I started talking to this guy and he’s been trippin,”she texted, according to the affidavit. “I need to get out of here ASAP. Honestly I’m a little scared cause he is AC [Aryan Circle] and keeps threatening to get me beat up and stuff.”
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When a male friend arrived that night at the address in the 400 block of Haltom Road, Eylar began bringing down her possessions from the upstairs apartment where police say she had been staying with Jim Harvey Opry. The male friend told police Eylar was arguing with an unknown man as he loaded her belongings into his car.
When the friend turned back around, Eylar was on the ground, unresponsive and bleeding badly from her head, he told police. She would never regain consciousness and died Jan. 9 after she was removed from life support.
Opry, the 39-year-old man that Eylar was staying with, remained in the Tarrant County Jail Tuesday charged with her murder.
In a Jan. 12 interview with homicide Detective J.T. Rhoden, Opry confessed that he threw a tool at Britney, striking her in the head, according to the affidavit, obtained Tuesday by the Star-Telegram.
Another court document identifies the tool used to strike Eylar as a caulk gun.
Homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman confirmed Tuesday that police recovered a caulk gun at the scene with what appeared to be blood on it.
“Forensic testing will conclude whether it is the victim’s blood or not,” Loughman said.
Opry has a history of violence against females, including accidentally killing a 14-year-old girl as a teen and then trying to cover up her death, and later beating up and slashing the neck of an ex-girlfriend, who survived.
A fearful witness
Eylar’s friend would later tell investigators that after seeing Eylar on the ground and realizing that her injury was bad, he wanted to call 911 to get help for her.
“The male with whom she had been arguing told (Eylar’s friend) not to call the cops, that she would be fine,” the affidavit states. “The male then took her property out of (Eylar’s friend’s) car, and then started trying to pick Britney up.”
The friend told police that he drove away so that he could call for help for Eylar but that the suspect attempted to get in his car window.
Once away, the friend called 911, telling dispatchers that a woman had “got injured” but refusing to give his name, number or how it happened, explaining, “He will kill me.”
Responding officers found Eylar with a penetrating brain inury, lying at the bottom of an exterior stairway of a two-story metal building.
Opry, investigators would learn, lived in the building’s upstairs apartment.
While at the property, the responding officer heard a cell phone ringing. About 15 feet from where Eylar was found, the officer found a phone, a purse and a woman’s jacket hidden inside a stack of large semi-truck tires under a trailer, the affidavit states.
Through a search warrant, homicide Detective R. Watkins later learned the purse and phone belonged to Eylar.
Call and text logs from the phone showed Eylar and Opry, known by the nickname “Tex,” had been arguing in the days before her fatal injury. On the evening of New Year’s Day, Eylar had informed Opry she was going to leave and asked about borrowing a suitcase.
She then began her search for a ride.
Loughman said Tuesday that detectives believe Eylar had been staying with Opry off and on for about a week. He said it remains unknown what the pair had been arguing about but said it appeared to be over “domestic issues.”
Former prison time
Although Opry was not documented by Fort Worth police as a member of the white supremacy prison gang Aryan Circle, Loughman said investigators have uncovered “circumstantial evidence to say that he is or at one time was a member.”
Opry, state records show, has been in and out of prison for crimes including the 1992 fatal shooting of a 14-year-old girl northeast of Houston.
Then a 17-year-old Humble High School student, Opry had been showing off his father’s new 12-gauge shotgun during a New Year’s Eve party at his Atascocita house while his parents were away. Believing the shotgun was unloaded, he pointed the gun at Cristie Casanover and pulled the trigger, shooting her in the face, according to Houston Chronicle articles about the shooting.
Casanover’s mother said Opry and two friends then covered up the shooting by throwing her daughter’s body into a cistern tank and burying the spent shells.
Opry was later charged with murder in the case but a Harris County grand jury chose to instead indict him for involuntary manslaughter.
He was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication probation in November 1993 in a plea deal reached with prosecutors. But his probation was later revoked and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Casanover’s death, after picking up a new charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for beating and slashing the neck of an ex-girlfriend.
A mother’s suspicion
Felecia Land, Eylar’s mother, said that while she did not know Opry, she had been suspicious that someone nicknamed “Tex” might be involved in her daugther’s death based on Eylar’s last Facebook posting.
On New Year’s Eve, Eylar had posted a Bitstrips comic in which she said that she and “Tex” were going out.
“She made the cartoon of her and Tex going out to brave the weather,” Land said. “That was absolutely her last post. That was what made us think it was him because he was the last person to see her.”
Eylar said she doesn’t believe Opry’s account to police that he threw the tool at her daughter, but believes he intentionally struck her in the head.
“He would have had to have swung down with that weapon and hit her on top of her head,” Land said. “...There’s no way he threw something and cracked her skull like he did. He hit her.”
Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655