Man arrested for allegedly wrapping dead woman in plastic and stashing her in a U-Haul truck

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John Byron Wilson, inset on the left, and Tara Groves, inset on the right.

John Byron Wilson, inset on the left, and Tara Groves, inset on the right, appear against an image of the home where the woman is believed to have died in Houston, Tex. (Harris County Jail; Selfie; Google Maps)

A Texas man has been arrested in connection with the death of a young mother whose body was found decomposing in the back of a borrowed U-Haul truck at a storage facility earlier this summer.

Tara Groves, 25, was found “laying on a couch” and “wrapped in several layers of plastic” while “underneath a variety of debris” in the back of the locked truck on June 9, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Houston Police Department and obtained by Law&Crime. Police also noted that a small amount of methamphetamine, a glass pipe, and several “empty naloxone containers” were found wrapped up in the plastic that had been used to cover her body.

An anonymous caller knew where the deceased woman’s body was and the person who allegedly drove her corpse to the address in Katy – a small city that is part of the broader Houston metropolitan area – and told police as much on the day in question, the complaint says.

John Byron Wilson, 38, stands accused of one count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, according to the HPD.

Three days after Groves’ body was found, a witness told police that a man he knows as “Byron” had asked to borrow his truck to “move some furniture.” The witness went on to say that the defendant had the truck for about three days and returned it “late one night.” Then, the witness said, while giving him a ride back home, the defendant admitted “there was the body of a dead female in the back of the U-Haul truck,” HPD Officer Mark Stahlin wrote in the complaint.

The witness went on to tell the HPD that Byron told him a “woman had overdosed on narcotics” at the defendant’s house and he didn’t want to get law enforcement involved because “another woman had recently overdosed and died” at his house, according to the complaint.

That first dead woman, police note, was named Natalia Salinas. She died at the residence on May 7. Wilson was the 911 caller that time.

“Byron had decided to get rid of the most recent body instead of calling the police,” the document reads. “[The witness] immediately told his wife [who] reported this information to the police.”

The wife of the witness relayed a slightly different version of events during her own interview. She told police the man they both knew as “Byron” borrowed the truck on the evening of June 8 and returned it “late” that same night – saying he needed it “to move some furniture that had come infested with bed bugs,” according to the complaint.

The wife went on to tell police that she also went along for the ride during which her husband gave the defendant a ride back home but fell asleep in the car – waking up to the story about the body.

A third witness, who told police she “takes care” of Groves’ child, said that the deceased woman would regularly send her the address of a location – which meant she would be doing drugs there and wanted the caretaker to have her location. On June 3, Groves sent one such message – the last message she would ever send. The address of that location was Wilson’s residence in Houston, the complaint says.

Delores Williams, Groves’ mother-in-law, would later tell police that during a frantic search for the then-missing woman, she saw a U-Haul truck parked outside of Wilson’s residence on June 8.

During a brief phone call on June 14, the defendant allegedly told police that Groves had been at his house where she had “gotten drunk, stolen fentanyl, and had then left at some point.” Wilson allegedly cut the call short, however, telling police he had nothing else to say about the woman’s death. Later that same night, the wife of the first witness sent the HPD a damning screenshot wherein the defendant allegedly said he knew he was in trouble and offered his friend $20,000 if he “told police that it was [the witness] who knew about the body in the truck and that [the witness] had asked [the defendant] to drive the truck with no knowledge of what was in the back.”

Police believe Groves overdosed and died at Wilson’s house shortly after arriving during the early morning hours of June 3. Then, her dead body was left there until June 8 when Wilson wrapped her up along with her drug paraphernalia, put her on a couch, covered the couch in debris, put the couch in the truck, and left her to decompose at the U-Haul storage facility, according to the complaint.

The defendant was arrested on Aug. 3 and appeared in court on Aug. 10; he is currently detained in the Harris County Jail on $35,000 bond. Wilson was slated to appear back in court on Monday.

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