by Kathryn Kelman/ne news editor
The man charged with killing NE student Molly Matheson has now been charged with capital murder, which means he could face the death penalty.
Reginald Kimbro, 23, was arrested April 27 on a felony murder charge, but prosecutors upgraded the charge to capital murder after new evidence showed Matheson was sexually assaulted.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, homicide detectives suspected Matheson had been sexually assaulted as well as strangled, but the sexual assault kit done April 11 had not been processed when Kimbro was arrested.
Kimbro is linked to two other cases of sexual assault that involved strangulation in 2012 and 2014.
After reviewing the two cases and allegations made against him, detectives noticed similarities and ordered the rape kit be expedited by the medical examiner.
Murder is elevated to a capital offense when a suspect is accused of a second felony, like sexual assault, in addition to the murder.
Kimbro told detectives he and Matheson dated while she was a student at the University of Arkansas. They eventually broke up but stayed in touch.
Kimbro told police prior to his arrest that Matheson invited him to her apartment, and he arrived about 10:30 p.m. April 9. He told police they kissed, but Matheson declined to have sex, and he left around 1:30 a.m. April 10.
Cellphone records show a text from Kimbro to Matheson indicating his arrival at 10:26 p.m. April 9 and a text from him to her again at 2:59 a.m. April 10 that said, “Hey. Thanks again for the advice. Its nice seeing how far you’ve come. Im proud of you brej. Hmu when you get up.”
The second text was never read by Matheson.
When Matheson didn’t show up for work April 10 or answer her phone, her mother went to her garage-apartment near the Texas Christian University campus. Matheson’s mother found the apartment unlocked and her daughter’s body curled up on the bathroom floor, dressed only in a T-shirt, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The medical examiner noted Matheson’s shirt was wet, her left eye was injured and swollen and she had been deceased for a long period of time.
Detectives suspect Matheson had been taken to the shower and placed under the running shower to remove physical evidence, according to the affidavit.
While searching Matheson’s apartment, officers found a pair of Matheson’s running shorts, underwear, a pillow case, a fitted sheet, wash cloths and a bath towel in the washing machine, along with a pair of men’s underwear, still wet.
In his interview, Kimbro said Matheson had been wearing a pair of running shorts the night of April 9. Police believe those shorts were the same ones found in the washing machine.
Detectives obtained records that showed a spike in power usage that would be consistent with the washing machine running around the same time a neighbor’s surveillance camera showed Kimbro’s car leaving the apartment, which police said was around 2 a.m.
According to the affidavit, police believe Kimbro could have loaded and started the washing machine as a means to destroy evidence.
The affidavit also details Kimbro’s two prior rape accusations. One was made by a woman in Plano in 2012, and another was made by a woman in South Padre Island in 2014.
In the affidavit, police said Kimbro knew both women and was accused of strangling them during the assaults.
In the 2012 case, a sexual assault kit conducted on the woman revealed Kimbro’s DNA as well, but he was not arrested. That case is still active and open, according to Plano police.
In the 2014 case, Kimbro’s semen was found in the woman, but he claimed the sex was consensual, and the charges were dismissed.
Kimbro remains in custody at the Mansfield jail, but his bail amount was raised from $500,000 to $1 million after his charge was upgraded.
Next, the case moves to a grand jury for review, Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office communications officer Sam Jordan said.