ALLEN, Texas — Their deaths shocked North Texas.
Molly Matheson’s mother found her 22-year-old daughter raped, strangled and murdered in her Texas Christian University-area garage apartment in April 2017.
Days later, Megan Getrum disappeared from a Plano nature preserve. Her body was found the next day in Lake Ray Hubbard. She had also been raped and strangled.
But did Matheson and Getrum have to die? Could a local police department have acted on DNA results in an earlier rape case and taken the suspect into custody?
Those are the questions that haunt victim’s advocate Niccole Frazier, who is convinced their lives could have been spared.
“We had everything that we needed to have to stop him,” Frazier told WFAA. “He’s sitting in jail for murdering two young women who had their whole life in front of them.”
Frazier is speaking of Reginald Kimbro, who is accused of murdering Matheson in Fort Worth and Getrum in Plano, both in 2017.
Before that, three other women in three separate cities told police Kimbro raped and choked them.
One of those alleged rapes was in Allen.
A publicly available arrest warrant affidavit lays out the timeline: 41 days before Matheson’s murder, DNA results came back definitively linking Kimbro to the Allen rape.
Yet, Allen police did not arrest him, even though Kimbro had told police that his DNA would not be found on the victim.
“I don’t know what more you would need as a law enforcement agency to arrest someone,” Frazier said.
At the time, Frazier was a victim advocate for the Allen Police Department.
Through a spokesman, Allen police Chief Brian Harvey declined to comment on how his department handled the DNA results in the Allen case. The department spokesman cited Kimbro’s upcoming trial as the reason, and said prosecutors asked that they not speak publicly.
The Allen attack
In January 2014, the night of the attack, the victim and Kimbro were attending a party at a home in Allen. They had not met previously.
A friend later found her covered in leaves and debris beside a wrought iron fence obscured by a line of hedges. She had been sexually assaulted. She also had strangulation marks around her neck, a busted blood vessel in her left eye, a head wound, a cut lip and chest abrasions.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that after reading her injuries and seeing what she went through that night… that he thought that she was dead when he left her lying there,” Frazier told WFAA.
When police questioned Kimbro, he denied having anything to do with the attack, according to police documents. He said his DNA would not be found on the victim and provided a DNA sample to investigators.
In March 2014, the victim’s rape kit and Kimbro’s DNA were sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory in Garland.
In 2015, eleven months later, a preliminary lab report showed the “presence of semen,” records show.
Three years later
Nearly three years after it was submitted, on Feb. 28, 2017, the DPS lab sent results to Allen police – the DNA belonged to Kimbro.
WFAA asked DPS officials why it took three years to receive the rape kit results.
In an email response, DPS officials explained that the delay was because, at the time, changes were being made in how some DNA testing was conducted.
“While our lab was implementing these new protocols, this particular case was held for analysis,” the email said. “This led to a delay in processing. Once the validation of the new protocol was completed, the lab was able to process the evidence.”
DPS officials declined to answer follow-up questions, citing the ongoing prosecution of Kimbro.
Still, once they had Kimbro’s positive DNA results in hand, what did Allen police detectives do with them?
Allen police will not say. They did not arrest Kimbro.
Forty-one days passed.
Then, on April 10, 2017, Matheson’s mother found her dead in the shower of her apartment in the area of the Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.
Investigators believe her killer placed her body in the shower in an effort to wash away DNA evidence.
Police found the last text message read on Matheson’s phone was from Kimbro, whom she knew from college. It had been sent late in the evening on April 9.
On April 14, 2017, police questioned Kimbro. He denied having anything to do with her murder, according to police documents.
“I began to ask Reginald specific questions about the time frame he was with Molly,” a Fort Worth police detective wrote in an affidavit for his arrest. “Reginald became upset and said that he wanted to end the interview.”
A Fort Worth police detective told Plano police that “Kimbro left angry,” according to the arrest affidavit in Getrum’s case. Hours later, Getrum would go missing from the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano where she’d been hiking.
Getrum’s body was found in Lake Ray Hubbard the next day. An autopsy showed she had a fatal “blunt injury” to her neck, strangulation marks around her neck. She also had been raped.
Investigators soon found Kimbro had been spotted in the parking lot of the nature preserve around the time Getrum disappeared.
Kimbro was arrested in connection with Matheson’s murder on April 27, 2017.
By the time of his arrest, 58 days had passed since DNA results had come in linking Kimbro to the Allen case.
“This monster could have been stopped,” Frazier told WFAA. “This evil could have been stopped and it just makes me very sad that we didn’t do that. We didn’t even try.”
Frazier said her deputy chief ordered her not to contact the Allen rape victim. She says he offered no explanation as to why.
“I should have contacted her anyway,” Frazier said, becoming emotional. “She had a right to know.”
The Allen victim later learned about Kimbro’s arrest in her case from the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, which is leading the Matheson prosecution.
Courtney Underwood, a crime victim’s advocate who has been instrumental in fighting for the rights of sexual assault victims, has been in contact with the Allen victim.
“She’s angry,” Underwood told WFAA. “She knows there’s no way you can look at this and not think Molly Jane and Megan’s murders were arguably preventable.
“How do you as a department say that you’re standing with victims of sexual violence when you don’t even care to call the victim and update her on her case,” Underwood said.
One-hundred-and-five days would elapse between the time that the DNA results came back in the Allen rape case and when an Allen police detective obtained a warrant for Kimbro, who by that time was being held in the Tarrant County jail in the murders of Matheson and Getrum.
“It’s hard to know that those two women may have been saved just by doing our job,” Frazier said.
WFAA contacted Kevin Miller, the Allen police detective who received the DNA results. At the time, he was assigned to investigate sexual assault and family violence cases.
He did not respond to requests for comment.
But an examination of his record shows a rape victim filed a complaint against him in March 2017.
“He tried to intimidate me in hopes that my story was false and that I would be scared enough to admit that,” she wrote in her statement. “He told me that ‘30 percent of the girls that sit across from me in this room are lying…’”
Miller told investigators he was taught to say that in training. His superiors ordered him to attend police customer service training as a result, according to records.
“That should never come out of a detective’s mouth,” Underwood told WFAA. “That’s not even an accurate statistic. Most women don’t report.”
Months later, in July 2018, Miller’s supervisors again counseled him on his “interpersonal communication skills” when he asked a man in front of his 17-year-old daughter if he had had sex with a woman, according to a memo signed by Lt. Marshall DeBlanc, his supervisor.
DeBlanc wrote that Miller had been counseled previously for his interpersonal communication skills and had been provided formal training.
Miller is currently a detective, according to a department spokesman.
In addition to Allen, Kimbro was suspected in attacks in South Padre Island and Plano.
The attacks, spanning 2012 to 2014, are similar. All three women said Kimbro raped them. All three said they had been strangled. All three victims reported the rape. All three victims underwent a rape exam. Kimbro’s DNA was found in all three cases.
All three investigations stalled, until Kimbro was arrested for murder.
Currently, Kimbro faces capital murder charges in connection with the Matheson and Getrum deaths. He also faces charges in connection with the rapes in Allen and South Padre Island.
Underwood said what happened in those three cases is indicative of a bigger problem of women reporting crimes not being believed by police, particularly in cases where the victims know their attackers, and where alcohol is involved.
“If someone is committing sex assault and strangling, they’re basically raising their hand and saying, ‘I’m a killer,’” Underwood said. “There’s no way those detectives don’t know this.”
Matheson’s mother, Tracy Matheson, successfully won passage of a law aimed at forcing law enforcement to do a better job of identifying and catching serial sexual predators.
Called “Molly Jane’s Law,” the law requires a suspect’s name and date of birth, as well as the offense being investigated and a description of the circumstances, be entered into an intelligence database known as the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, or ViCAP.
“Molly Jane was bright and beautiful and bold light,” her mother said in an email to WFAA. “She was the glue which held our family together and is missed every moment of every day. We are committed to seeing that Molly Jane’s murder is a catalyst for change.”
Frazier recently left her job with the Allen police department to take another job advocating for victims.
She said she was coming forward now because remaining silent any longer was not an option.
“I can’t bring Molly back,” she said. “I can’t bring Megan back but I can honor their memory by admitting what we did was fail them.”
- Sept. 12, 2012 -- A woman tells Plano police that she refused Kimbro’s sexual overtures. She says he then choked her, threatened to kill her, slammed her head on the ground when she tried to call 911 and then raped her. Kimbro wasn’t arrested. His DNA was found but police say the victim did not wish to pursue the case.
- Jan. 19, 2014 -- A 20-year-old woman is raped and strangled after attending a house party in Allen. The last person she recalls speaking to is Kimbro.
- Feb. 18, 2014 – Allen police interview Kimbro. He denies sexually assaulting the victim. He said his DNA will not be found and he provides police with a DNA sample.
- March 21, 2014 – A 20-year-old Oklahoma woman is choked and raped in South Padre Island. Kimbro was arrested at the scene. He told police the sex was consensual. The Cameron County District Attorney’s Officer later dismissed the case. The DNA results were uploaded into the FBI’s DNA database known as the Combined DNA Index System, which resulted in a “case to case hit” to the earlier Plano case. Still, the DA’s office ultimately dismissed the case.
- Feb. 19, 2015 – The Garland DPS lab reports to Allen PD that semen is present in the victim’s rape kit.
- Feb. 28, 2017 – The lab sends back results linking Kimbro to the Allen rape.
- April 10, 2017 – Molly Matheson is found dead in her Fort Worth apartment shower. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted. Her body, clothes and bedding had all been washed to destroy evidence.
- April 14, 2017 – Fort Worth police question Kimbro in connection with Matheson’s killing and release him. That same day, police say, Kimbro attacks and kills Megan Leigh Getrum, 36, as she is hiking in the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano.
- April 15, 2017 – Getrum’s body is found in Lake Ray Hubbard, about 30 miles away, in Dallas.
- April 27, 2017 – A Fort Worth police detective obtains a capital murder warrant in Matheson’s case. Kimbro is arrested.
- May 12, 2017 – DNA testing links Kimbro to the sexual assault of Getrum.
- May 25, 2017 – A Plano police detective obtains a capital murder warrant in Getrum’s case.
- June 13, 2017 – Allen police obtain an arrest warrant for Kimbro for the 2014 rape.
- June 14, 2017 – A Cameron County grand jury indicted Kimbro in the South Padre Island attack.
Source: Arrest warrant affidavits and news accounts.
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