Laird Hill man faces charges in woman's murder

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A 41-year-old mother of five is dead and a 19-year-old man is facing a capital murder charge after a burglary turned deadly last week.

Griselda Contreras was shot to death in her home in Laird Hill Friday, and Rusk County Sheriff’s Office investigators were soon on the trail of a suspicious vehicle and a suspect authorities say stole a game console and a firearm from the residence.

Contreras was transported to the Christus Good Shepherd Emergency Room in Kilgore March 29 and pronounced dead on arrival.

Dylan Page Rachal was arrested that night and booked into Rusk County Jail Saturday for her killing. He remained incarcerated Tuesday on bonds totaling $2 million, facing a murder charge ($500,000) and capital murder ($1,500,000), the crime was committed in the act of another felony, burglary.

“Exactly when it happened, we don’t know,” RCSO Sgt. David Roberts said Tuesday. Deputies were dispatched about 12:20 p.m. Friday: “911 had received a call about a female that was in distress, laying on the kitchen floor. All her children were at school and the husband at work.”

According to an affidavit from RCSO investigator Shane Perrault, Rachal was soon named as a person of interest in the case.

“This lead developed based upon information provided by the family of Contreras, and a suspicious vehicle that was observed in close proximity to the victim [sic] residence and later located at the residence that Rachal was currently staying at.”

According to Roberts, Rachal is friends with Contreras’ eldest son: “They did know each other.”

An oilfield hand spotted the suspect’s vehicle parked near a lease, Roberts said.

“We’ve had a lot of oilfield thefts up in that area over the last several years,” and it aroused the man’s suspicions enough to snap photos. “Once he heard what had happened, he contacted us immediately.”

From Perrault’s affidavit, the investigators also interviewed Rachal’s girlfriend – identified as Jailene Melena (alternately, Melina) – who reportedly told them Rachal “made admissions to her that he caused the death of Griselda Contreras by shooting her with a firearm during the course of burglary … Melina further described items (game console and firearm) that Affiant knew to be taken during the burglary and advised that the items were currently located in the residence where she and Rachal were currently staying.

Later, Perrault reported, “Dylan Rachal provided Rusk County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Johnathan Rhodes with a statement under Miranda in which Rachal made admissions to shooting Griselda Contreras with a firearm while committing burglary at the Griselda Contreras residence.”

(For Contreras’ obituary, see Page 4)

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