A Fort Worth man who police say ultimately confessed to strangling his estranged wife as their children slept in a nearby room initially told detectives that he had spent the night on the porch because his wife had company and wouldn’t let him in.
Shalen Gardner, 32, told homicide detectives that he had texted his wife, Elanceia “Lana” Gardner, about 2:30 a.m. Thursday while sitting on the front porch of her duplex apartment in 1700 block of Fairmount Avenue.
He said he wanted to see if he could come inside to charge his ankle monitor, according to an arrest warrant affidavit written by homicide Detective Chris Brashear and obtained Monday by the Star-Telegram.
Gardner, whose criminal history included killing the family’s pet pit bull with a hammer, had been ordered to wear an ankle monitor in April after repeatedly violating his probation for unlawful carrying of a weapon.
“Shalen stated that his wife told him that he could not come in and that she had company in the house,” Brashear wrote in the affidavit.
Gardner told police that he then spent the night on the porch, awaking to find that a black Honda that had been parked in the driveway along with his wife’s car was gone. He said he later walked to a nearby park and was picked up by his mother.
He insists he never entered his wife’s house.
But evidence uncovered by homicide investigators — including data from Gardner’s ankle monitor — told a different story, according to the affidavit.
Gardner’s ankle monitor showed numerous GPS hits coming from inside the house between 12:50 and 7 a.m.
“This GPS information contradicts Shalen Gardner’s statement that he never went inside the house ... which is the time that Elanceia Gardner was murdered,” Brashear wrote.
Investigators noted that Gardner had fresh scratches on his body, including near his right eye, and that his eyeglasses were damaged as if he’d been in a fight.
A neighbor’s surveillance cameras showed no black Honda in the driveway that early morning.
And residents living in the other side of the duplex told police they had been outside the house early that morning, looking for their missing dogs, and had never seen Gardner on the porch.
Elanceia Gardner’s body was discovered by the couple’s two children, ages 10 and 12. The children ran to a neighbor’s house, reporting they’d found their mother unconscious in bed with blood around her mouth.
The neighbors rushed over and performed CPR on Elanceia Gardner until medical personnel arrived. Despite their efforts, she was pronounced dead at 8:37 a.m.
As police were beginning their investigation, Gardner came to the house, hysterical and crying. He told homicide Detective Scott McCarthy that he was married to the victim and about their earlier text exchange.
On Friday, after being arrested by fugitive officers on a murder warrant, Gardner confessed that he had sexually assaulted and strangled his wife, homicide Detective Tom O’Brien has said.
Gardner remained held in the Mansfield Jail on Monday with bail set at $100,000.
Elanceia Gardner’s mother, Neia Roland, said that her daughter was separated from Gardner and that the couple were planning to divorce.