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Crime News

Texas Man Arrested After Authorities Find Missing, Pregnant Girlfriend Dead In A Different State

Kayla Nicole Rice was found dead in a shallow grave in Louisiana in February, months after she was last seen alive in Texas.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

A Texas man has been arrested after his pregnant girlfriend, who’d been missing for weeks, was found dead hundreds of miles away from home. 

Jonathan Paul Menard, a 35-year-old Beaumont resident, was charged with tampering with evidence and may face further charges related to the disappearance and death of 33-year-old Kayla Nicole Rice, the Beaumont Police Department announced in a news release Friday. Rice was reported missing in December 2020 by family members who live out of state after they realized they hadn’t spoken to her since the previous month, police said. Following an investigation, authorities were able to locate Rice’s car, but concluded that it had been “physically altered,” the release states. At the time, Rice, who was six months pregnant, was still nowhere to be found, despite the police’s efforts, which included interviews with numerous people who knew her.

“Our main concern is to check Kayla's welfare and make sure she is ok,” police said.

Rice's case came to a tragic conclusion when her remains were found in Vinton, Louisiana on Feb. 11, police said. An unnamed person called authorities at around 1:30 p.m. to report having come across skeletal remains buried in a shallow grave near Ged Road, 12News reports. Those remains were quickly identified as belonging to Rice.

Kayla Rice Jonathan Menard Pd

Authorities in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana arrested Menard the same day Rice's body was found  in relation to a prior parole violation, and he was then transferred to Jefferson County in Texas, Beaumont Police said. He may face additional charges as early as this week, according to authorities.

Police statements did not refer to a relationship between Menard and Rice, but numerous outlets, like local station 12News, have referred to Menard as Rice’s boyfriend.

Menard is currently in custody at the Jefferson County Correctional Center in Texas, online jail records show. At present time, no bond has been set.