Texas

She was murdered in 2017. Now Molly Jane’s law is before Texas lawmakers

Two years to the day after Molly Jane Matheson was found dead at her Fort Worth home, her mother stood before state lawmakers and asked them to do what they can to prevent the deaths of other Texans.

Tracy Matheson told lawmakers she was the one who found her daughter — a “vibrant, hilarious, compassionate, trustworthy, dedicated, authentic 22-year-old” — dead on the bathroom floor at her TCU-area home April 10, 2017.

Police later told her Molly Jane had been raped and strangled.

“The darkness almost became too much to bear,” Matheson told the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee Wednesday. “In the days and weeks that followed, it became clear to me that I was going to have to do something.

“I could not let Molly’s death, her murder, be the end of the story.”

Tracy Matheson spoke in support of House Bill 3106, also known as Molly Jane’s Law, which is geared to help law enforcers identify patterns of sexual assaults and identify serial offenders before they attack again.

The bill by state Reps. Craig Goldman and Matt Krause, both Fort Worth Republicans, would require investigation information — such as a suspect’s name and date of birth, the offense being investigated and circumstances around it — to be put into an intelligence database known as the Texas Data Exchange.

Investigators then could look for similarities in cases they are working on, potentially preventing the same person from attacking again.

“Detectives will have the ability to identify sexual predators earlier,” Goldman told the committee. “The technology in the Texas Data Exchange will be utilized to ensure that detectives are able to import key data regarding sexual assault and accessibility to that information will be statewide.

Goldman, who grew up with Tracy Matheson and her husband, David, said Wednesday was a day to “honor the life and memory of one of my constituents who was taken from us too soon.”

“In my years of being a state representative, no bill has been more important to me than this one,” Goldman told the committee.

The committee unanimously approved the bill, sending it to the full House for consideration.

Texas lawmakers have until the end of their legislative session, May 27, to pass laws.

Prior offenses

Reginald Gerard Kimbro, 25, remains in the Tarrant County Jail awaiting trial, accused in the rape and murder of Matheson. The two once dated.

Police determined that Kimbro had visited Matheson’s home April 8, the night before her body was found. Kimbro admitted he visited Matheson, but he said she was alive when he left.

Police believe that Kimbro raped and strangled Matheson, then washed her clothes, bedding and body trying to get rid of the evidence. He was arrested after DNA tests tied him to evidence found on her body.

Kimbro also has been indicted in the capital murder of Megan Leigh Getrum, a 36-year-old Plano woman. And he has been linked to other cases, including the choking and raping of a 20-year-old woman in South Padre Island in 2014.

“In reviewing the death warrants in Molly’s and Megan’s deaths, I learned that the suspect was someone law enforcement from multiple jurisdictions in Texas was familiar with since 2012,” Tracy Matheson told lawmakers.

With this bill, she hopes to be part of “something that might make a difference so another life is not lost at the hands of a serial rapist who slips through the cracks.”

Matheson believes that this bill can help law enforcers working to solve sexual assault cases.

“Molly could very well be alive today had HB 3106 been in place in 2017,” she said.

This article includes information from Star-Telegram archives
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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.
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