HOUSTON – A 31-year-old resident of Houston has pleaded guilty to kidnapping in connection with the death of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Employee, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick.
Don Gaines entered a plea of guilty today to kidnapping and killing the 28-year-old woman.
“Protecting the employees of the USPS is a top priority for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service,” said Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez. “When someone takes the life of one of our employees, we will stop at nothing to identify those responsible and bring them to justice. We extend our appreciation to all our local, state and federal partners that assisted in this investigation.”
That investigation identified Gaines, also a postal employee, as the person who abducted the victim as she left from the U.S. Postal Station – Houston distribution Center on Aline Bender Road, Sept. 11, 2017. The victim’s family reported her missing shortly thereafter. Gaines and the victim had previously been in a relationship and had two children together.
Gaines admitted he choked the victim in her car near his residence in Houston. After he strangled her, Gaines believed the she was dead and transported her to Louisiana. However, during the trip, the victim regained consciousness, after which Gaines drove her to a secluded area off the highway. At that time, he parked the car and walked the victim into the woods where he shot her in the head with a firearm. He abandoned her body and drove back to Houston in her car the same day.
Investigators identified location data on the victim’s car through a GPS device.
Evidence mirrored Gaines’ statements in that the victim’s car was located at his residence the same date he claimed to have choked her. It was also shown that the victim’s car traveled along Interstate 10 through Louisiana, then returned to Houston. A video further showed that Gaines purchased gas on the return drive to Houston after he disposed of the victim’s body.
Ultimately, the investigation led to the remote location in Louisiana where skeletal remains were discovered Oct. 12, 2017. Subsequent DNA analysis confirmed those remains were of the victim.
U.S. District Judge accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for Aug. 22, 2019. At that time, Gaines faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. He has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
USPIS conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Davis Parish (Louisiana) Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Calcasieu Parish (Louisiana) Coroner’s Office, Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory at Louisiana State University and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Jocher and James McAlister are prosecuting the case.