What happened to Rachel Rhoads? Capital murder complaint provides insight into investigation
UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - On a Thursday afternoon in March, Rachel Rhoads left her home to go look at apartment complexes. She never returned.
Rachel, a 24-year-old Longview resident, was browsing for a new place to live. About 2:30 p.m. March 29, she left her home in the 2400 block of Pine Tree Road.
Three days later her body was found about 200 yards from a rural roadway in Upshur County. Medical examiner records show Rachel was strangled and her body had been severely burned, making it difficult to identify her remains.
Now, with two people in custody for the murder, a recently obtained capital murder complaint and search warrant are revealing new details about what led to her death and how law enforcement officers discovered the suspects they think were responsible.
Catching the suspects
After her disappearance, Rachel's roommate phoned the victim's mother. Her mother then reported her missing on March 31. Rachel's roommate also provided police with a detailed description of her vehicle – a 2011 Suzuki four-door car, that was a grayish silver.
The vehicle description was entered into a statewide database to determine if any contact had been made, the document states.
On April 2, officers got a hit on the vehicle.
A car matching the description had been stopped outside of Fort Worth, Texas by an officer with the Bedford Police Department. Body cam video showed a recording of the traffic stop.
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The driver was identified as Carlton Grant, 37. At the time of the stop, Grant had a passenger in the vehicle who identified herself as Lindsey McFadden, 29.
The officer asked the pair who owned the vehicle and the document says McFadden told the officer, "the victim is her very best friend and that she was in fact texting the victim's mother about her whereabouts when they were stopped."
The document says officers later confirmed that the victim's mother didn't know McFadden. She hadn't spoken with her or texted her about her missing daughter.
Since the vehicle wasn't reported stolen "and with no other legal reason to detain the vehicle or occupants, the two were released from the traffic stop."
The day before the traffic stop, Upshur County Sheriff's Office deputies got a call about a body found along FM 726 North.
At about 3:30 p.m. that Sunday, a couple of residents riding ATVs called law enforcement to say they'd found a body.
"We responded out there, and indeed, we had what appears to be a female body, in the wooded area," Chief Deputy David Hazel said at the time of the discovery.
It wasn't clear if the woman had been transported there or died at the location.
"We don't know the circumstances that ended up with her there, but we have a suspicious, very suspicious set of circumstances that concern us," Hazel said. "We are treating this as a suspicious death."
Meanwhile, officers were chatting with Rachel's roommate trying to find out more about her whereabouts. They asked about Grant and McFadden's connection to Rachel.
The document states the roommate told investigators that Rachel knew the two through a class she had taken with them at a Longview facility.
"She stated that both Carlton and Lindsey had been over to their house before," the document says.
On April 5, officials finally got a big break in the case when they went to an apartment in Bedford, Texas where the victim's vehicle was found. The Longview Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service and Texas Rangers all assisted the Upshur County Sheriff's Office with locating Grant and McFadden at an apartment complex in the city.
"There was an active warrant for Carlton Grant related to an aggravated robbery warrant for setting a gas (station) clerk on fire during a robbery," the murder complaint states. "Gregg County had issued an arrest warrant against Lindsey McFadden for felony endangering a child."
The document states McFadden had also recently tested positive for methamphetamine during a Child Protective Services investigation. Her child had also tested positive.
When both came walking out of the apartment, officers were waiting and they were taken into custody and later booked into the Bedford City Jail.
While in custody, the document states that McFadden confessed to the details surrounding Rachel's death.
She told officials that on March 29, she, the victim and Grant all left Rachel's house in Longview. The victim was driving her own vehicle, McFadden was in the passenger seat and Grant was in the backseat.
Along the route, McFadden alleges that Grant began to strangle the victim with a bungee cord before pulling her into the backseat. At one point, the document alleges Grant punched the victim. Medical records noted in the capital murder complaint state that there was a finding of death by strangulation in the case.
McFadden allegedly told officials that she and Grant tried to get rid of all identifying information once they arrived in Hallsville, placing all of the items in a trash bag.
A bag of Rachel's items was later discarded in a trash bin behind some trailers in Hallsville, Texas.
McFadden told investigators that she believed the victim was dead but that later that night when they moved her to the trunk of the vehicle, they learned she was still alive and moving.
The victim allegedly struck her head hard when she was tied up and put into the trunk and McFadden told officials that they drove around several places before they stopped off FM 726 in Upshur County. Access to the remote location was possible by taking the gas line right of way from FM 726.
The capital murder complaint alleges the pair then removed the victim's body from the trunk before setting her on fire and leaving the scene. Investigators were eventually able to identify her identity by using her fingerprints.
McFadden and Grant have now been charged with capital murder by terror threat.
On April 6, multiple law enforcement agencies gathered to hold a press conference discussing updates in the case and the charges against McFadden and Grant.
"I'd like to keep the Rachel Rhoads family in our thoughts and prayers and the difficult time they've been going through this week," Sheriff Larry Webb said at the start of the event.
Upshur County Billy Byrd also addressed the small crowd gathered for the conference.
"I do want to say how sorry we are for the Rhoads family. I had the ability and the opportunity to meet with both parents and they are grief-stricken and hurting as is to be expected. (They are) very, very fine people," Bryd said. "This investigation is not complete. There is much work still to be done."
And then he made a vow.
"I will certainly attest to the fact that our offices and my office will see that justice is done in these cases," Byrd said.
On April 10 McFadden and Grant were arraigned on charges in an Upshur County courtroom. Rhoads parents were in the courtroom for the arraignment. After McFadden was read her charges and escorted from the courtroom in handcuffs, Grant was brought in for the same.
They remain in the Upshur County Jail on $4 million bond each.
A motive has not been listed and a court date has not been set.
KLTV has reached out to officials for more information. Chief Larry Webb, with the Upshur County Sheriff's Office, says a gag order has been put in place by a judge and more details on the case can not be released at this time.
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