Fort Worth

He's charged with killing a college student and then dismembering and burning her body

Jacqueline Vandagriff, 24, was found dead near Lake Grapevine on Sept. 14, 2016.
Jacqueline Vandagriff, 24, was found dead near Lake Grapevine on Sept. 14, 2016.

A man accused in a woman's slaying tried to persuade another woman to drop stalking charges against him just days before police discovered the burned body of the college student he is accused of murdering, according to trial testimony Tuesday.

The murder trial of Charles Dean Bryant Jr., 31, of Haslet, the man accused of dismembering and burning the body of Jacqueline Vandagriff, a 24-year-old Texas Woman's University student, continued Tuesday with testimony from Caitlin Mathis.

Mathis — a student at the University of North Texas on Sept. 13, 2016, the day authorities say Vandagriff was killed — testified that she spent weeks trying to end a relationship with Bryant that lasted two to three months.

"My mom didn't want to meet him," Mathis testified.

"Why did she not want to meet him?" asked Anna Hernandez, Tarrant County prosecutor.

"Because she knew he was a no-good guy," Mathis said.

charles bryant (1)
Charles Bryant, 30, after Grapevine police arrested him on suspicion of killing Jacqueline Vandagriff. Grapevine Police Department.

Defense attorneys Glynis McGinty and Joetta Keene argued that Bryant became frightened when Vandagriff died during sex, so he tried to hide the evidence of her death.

Authorities say Bryant bound Vandagriff, cut up her body and then set it on fire. It was later found in a plastic kiddie pool in Acorn Woods Park at Lake Grapevine.

Mathis testified that early in their relationship, she and Bryant would drive to that park and make out. Later in their relationship, Mathis testified, she was making plans to leave Bryant.

"He was controlling," Mathis said. "He would get set off easily. He would need to know where I was. "

The first time she tried to break up with Bryant, he showed up at her mother's house, Mathis said. She had used a text message for the breakup "because I was scared of how he would react," Mathis testified.

Mathis said she finally had to get the police at the University of North Texas involved. Bryant was arrested at UNT in September for criminal trespass and ordered not to be on any part of campus or to communicate with Mathis, Lt. Jeremy Polk, UNT patrol commander, testified.

After his arrest, Mathis testified, she got a forwarded email from Bryant asking her to drop the charges and saying that he wanted to leave the state.

A few days later, Polk said, he got a call from detectives in Grapevine who said they wanted to get in touch with Bryant as part of a murder investigation.

Grapevine police arrested Bryant on Sept. 22, 2016, on a violation of an emergency protective order that Mathis filed against him, Polk said.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday in state District Judge Mollee Westfall's court.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3
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