Welcome back to Murder Monday, ya’ll.
As a single woman with an active social life, I myself have definitely had some questionable encounters at bars. You can never be too sure of the stranger sending a drink your way, or the guy who’s paying a little too much attention to you and your friends. Whether he is attractive or not, there are a lot of factors you need to asses when a stranger approaches you. He could be nice, he could be a little creepy, he could be an actual psychopath out on the prowl for his next victim – you NEVER know. I think we all tend to base our initial assessment of strangers on their physical appearance. If the guy is presentable and attractive, well kept, friendly, polite – he probably stands a better chance of swooning you. If a guy’s lack of basic hygiene procedures is clear, he’s dressed like a slob, and he’s awkward – you’re probably going to ignore him. Here is where the lesson your mother always taught you that you never listened to comes into play… “Never judge a book by its cover.” Because guess what, Ted Bundy was a good looking guy, and Patrick Bateman was a boujee fucking stud. Yet, where did their dates all end up?
Now, I want to make it VERY clear that I am in no way, shape, or form, trying to victim blame here. You literally never know when someone is going to flip a switch and change. This is the reason we have ex boyfriends, this is the reason why people end up with restraining orders against people that they once loved. People are not always the sunshine and rainbows pitched to you in the beginning. Things change, and I understand this. All we can do to protect ourselves is to keep our guard up. If you are going to meet a stranger from an online dating app, drop your pin to a friend and send them updates. If you meet a cute guy at a bar and want to head black to his apartment, let a friend know where he lives. If you are out alone enjoying a few drinks, which I, myself, am a personal fan of doing – keep track of how much you are drinking, keep an eye on your drink, and go home ALONE. I carry a police grade retractable steel baton, pepper spray, and a small knife. I have taken self defense courses and always have an eye over my shoulder when I’m walking alone. Some people think I’m paranoid for this, but hey – if you did the research on these cases as often as I do, you would be too.
As always, I am placing a trigger warning on this post. Please do not continue reading if you feel that this topic could trigger you in any way.
Denton, Texas. September 13, 2016
Jaqueline Vandagriff, a 24 year old student at Texas Women’s University, headed out for a night on the town. She had intended to meet a Tinder date, according to her friends. It is unclear whether she was stood up or if the date was cancelled, but she ended up at Fry Street Public House, a bar located near the university she was attending.
On this same night, Charles Dean Bryant Jr, a 31 year old personal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu trainer and bartender living in Haslet, TX, found himself at the same bar. He had been out earlier in the night for pizza and drinks with friends, but found himself alone at the Public House afterwards.
The two sat one seat away from each other at the bar and enjoyed their drinks alone for some time before Bryant struck up conversation with Jackie. Jackie had just missed out on a potential date, and Bryant had just gone through a break up. The two may have both been looking for some company, but the night was about to take a turn for the worst.
Bartenders at the Public House said the two left the bar together after a few more drinks, it seemed as if the two had been having fun. The left and went to another bar close by where footage showed Jackie letting Bryant finish her drink for her. They had only been seen out together for about an hour at this point. Phone records would later show that the couple sat in Bryant’s car for 39 minutes, and then went to a nearby park for an hour…. where Bryant later claimed the two had some “consensual autoerotic asphyxiation sex” and the date took a turn for the worst. There was no evidence that the two actually had sex – but here is what we unfortunately know about what happened that night.
Moments after the couple left the bar, Bryant posted a Facebook status that said “Teach you tricks that will blow your mind.” And Vandagriff tweeted “I’m glad I decided to get off Tinder and walk into a bar.”
Clearly the two had different ideas of what was about to happen.
4:28 a.m., September 14, 2016
Charles Bryant was seen on surveillance video walking into a Walmart near his home in Haslet, alone, he purchased a shovel and a kiddie pool and left around 4:44am.
In the early morning hours of September 14, 2016, Jackie Vandagriff’s body was found fully dismembered and burning in a blue plastic swimming pool in a heavily wooded area in Grapevine.
An unidentified caller contacted 911 to report a brush fire, police arrived shortly after the fire unit had distinguished the fire and found what was burning underneath of it. A witness claimed to have seen a white male standing over the fire before leaving in a light colored SUV.
“The only vibe I ever got from him was that he was woman crazy. He loved women, he loved women’s attention,” said the manager of the bar where Bryant was employed at the time. His co-workers never thought his behavior to be odd, because “he was a good looking guy.”
Two days after her body was discovered, a post on her Twitter popped up that read “Never knew I could feel like this.”
Cellphone data traced her phone to Bryant’s Home.
In the backyard of Bryant’s Home, police found evidence that someone had tried to dig a hole where a kiddie pool once was, a bone from her body was found in the yard, and her purse was in his trash can.
Less than a week after the discover of Jackie’s body, Bryant was arrested for capital murder and held on a 1 million dollar full cash bail. He was facing the death penalty. His recent ex girlfriend testified in court that he had been stalking and threatening her, and that she had tried to get a restraining order against him. Just a few days before he murdered Jackie, he was arrested for trespassing. During the investigation, further charges of possession of child pornography were added to his long list of charges. During his trial he claimed that he did not murder Jackie, but that during their consensual kinky sex, she suffocated from a zip tie that she asked him to place around her neck, and that he panicked to hide the evidence. In April of 2018, Bryant was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The fact that Vandargriff had her location services turned on led to the discovery of evidence at Bryant’s household. She was only 24 years old, a young student with a bright future. The bartenders claimed that the two seemed happy leaving together, and that there were no warning signs. Please, if you are using dating apps, or if you are approached by a stranger in a bar, turn on your location services. Drop a pin to your friends, stay in a populated area until you are sure you can be comfortable with your date. Establish a level of trust, creep their social media, ask them questions. Nothing is more important than your comfort and safety, and no question is off limits when you are curious about the stranger who is trying to swoon you out of a bar. Keep your guard up, have your own back, and as my favorite favorite podcast hosts (second to our leader Jenny, of course) at My Favorite Murder always say – stay sexy, don’t get murdered. The world is full of creeps, and sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference at first. Be careful out there ladies, see you next week.