September 29, 2007

Teen says fugitive admitted killing UNT student

Teen says fugitive admitted killing UNT student
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Fri, Sep. 28, 2007

The Goodwin Family

Handout photo of 2006 Bowie High School graduate Melanie Goodwin, a 19-year-old whose body was found in Carrollton on Tuesday.

The Carrollton teenager arrested Thursday as part of the investigation into the killing of a 19-year-old Arlington girl this week is accused of providing the money and a gasoline can that was used in an attempt to cover up the crime, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Friday afternoon.

Donovan R. Young, 19, was being held on suspicion of tampering with evidence.

Police are seeking 20-year-old Ernesto Pina Reyes of Denton in connection with the death of Melanie Goodwin, a Bowie High School graduate who was a sophomore at the University of North Texas in Denton.

"We're hopeful he is close. We are hopeful he...wants to come in or at least somehow make contact with us, either directly or through a family member or a friend, and come talk to us and give us his side," said Sgt. John Singleton of the Carrollton police department. Police are asking the public to call a tip line, 972-466-4775, with information about the case.

Authorities found Goodwin's body in Carrollton early Tuesday. The Dallas County medical examiner's office said she died of multiple blunt-force injuries. Her body had been burned.

Young told detectives Thursday night that Reyes showed up at his apartment Tuesday between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. asking for help, according to the affidavit.

Reyes told Young that, "he killed someone, didn't mean to and needed to get rid of her body," the affidavit states.

Young told police he then saw a dead woman in the back of a red 2002 Saturn Reyes was driving. He then told police that he gave Reyes gas money and a gas can to put it in, the affidavit states.

Reyes then told Young that he would have to go back to Young's apartment after he finished because he had nowhere to go.

After leaving, Reyes returned to Young's apartment one to three hours later. He explained to Young that he had burned the woman's body, the affidavit states.

Both men went to sleep before taking Goodwin's car to the 2100 block of Marsh Lane in Carrolton "to blow it up," the affidavit states.

The car was found later in a different location along Dallas Drive in Denton.

Young and Reyes live less than a quarter mile from each other in Denton, according to addresses listed in their court records.

Young has been charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession twice, according to Denton County court records. He received deferred adjudications, meaning a conviction was not to appear on his record as long as he completed terms of the probation.

On Friday, an assistant district attorney filed a motion asking that Young's probation be revoked and that a judge enter findings of guilty against him in the marijuana cases. One of those motions says Reeves didn't do community service and had a urine test that was positive for marijuana on Sept. 4.

Police said it appears Reyes did not know Goodwin. According to an arrest warrant affidavit released Thursday, a clerk at a Denton QuikTrip saw Reyes asking a woman matching Goodwin's description for a ride about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday.

A little over two hours later, the surveillance video, from a Carrollton business near the site where the burned body was found, captured Reyes driving up in Goodwin's car, according to the affidavit.

Carrollton police Sgt. John Singleton said Thursday afternoon that detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. marshal's office, to find Reyes. They released a driver's license photo of him and asked anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact local police.

According to the affidavit, police traced calls that Reyes made from a telephone at the convenience store to an acquaintance who identified him as the man seen with Goodwin. That person also told police that Reyes had singed hair and burns on his forearms.

Criminal history

According to court records, Reyes was indicted on a charge of burglary of a building in February 2006 in Denton County. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, three years' probation and given deferred adjudication, meaning the conviction does not appear on his record as long as he completed terms of the probation.

Then, in early February, Reyes was arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge and was later released. A Denton County assistant district attorney filed a motion April 12 to revoke his probation and enter a guilty finding on the burglary.

That document says Reyes failed to fulfill the terms of his probation by not completing a drug education program ordered by the court, by failing to attend weekly counseling, by not completing four hours of community service weekly and by possessing marijuana. He was back in the Denton County Jail in late April.

While being held there, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a hold on Reyes, who was born in Mexico but has U.S. permanent resident status, according to officials and police records. The agency took custody of him June 20, jail officials said.

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a prepared statement Thursday that the agency eventually released Reyes because his crime was not a deportable offense for legal residents.

Reyes returned to Denton County court Aug. 2 and was sentenced to 180 days in jail on the burglary charge. He was released Aug. 26, according to jail records.

Prayers for family

On Wednesday night, more than 400 people gathered at an Arlington church to pray for Goodwin's family and remember her. She was a graduate of Arlington's Bowie High School and was active in Theatre Arlington.

Patti Diou, former director of Theatre Arlington, met Goodwin about 10 years ago. Over the years, Goodwin was a constant figure for the group, helping with theater camp, setting up children's productions and working the box office.

Staff writers Eva-Marie Ayala, Mitch Mitchell and Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.

Suspect at large

Carrollton police issued an arrest warrant late Wednesday for Ernesto Pina Reyes, 20, of Denton. He is wanted on suspicion of murder in the death of Melanie Goodwin, 19, of Arlington, police said in a news release.

Description: Six feet tall, 245 pounds, black hair and brown eyes. Last seen wearing a white striped shirt, short pants and white tennis shoes, according to police.

Seen with a woman matching Goodwin's description about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday at a Denton QuikTrip in the 3700 block of south Interstate 35E, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Left the QuikTrip with Goodwin in a red 2002, two-door Saturn with Texas license plates Z57-WBT, police have said. The car was found Wednesday near Dallas Drive in Denton, police said.

Captured on surveillance camera about 4 a.m. in the 3200 block of Keller Springs Road in Carrollton, according to the affidavit.

Have a tip? Anyone with information is asked to contact the Carrollton Police Department at 972-466-4775.

Traci Shurley, 817-548-5494

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