Crime

‘She didn’t deserve this,’ Jessie Bardwell’s father says before murder trial starts

Jessie Bardwell's brother, Brandon, center, and his wife, Kayla sit with Sara Houston, left, and Paul Schrage during a ceremony to pray for Jessie Bardwell on the beach in Pascagoula on Sunday May 15, 2016. She was found dead in a field in Texas, where she had moved with her new boyfriend.
Jessie Bardwell's brother, Brandon, center, and his wife, Kayla sit with Sara Houston, left, and Paul Schrage during a ceremony to pray for Jessie Bardwell on the beach in Pascagoula on Sunday May 15, 2016. She was found dead in a field in Texas, where she had moved with her new boyfriend. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

The man accused of killing former Pascagoula native Jessie Bardwell is set to stand trial this week in Collins County, Texas.

Jason Lowe, 28, is accused of killing the 27-year-old Bardwell at their home in Richmond, Texas, and leaving her body in a field.

Her father, Gary Bardwell, checked into a McKinney, Texas, hotel Sunday night to be available for jury selection Monday. Opening arguments are expected to start Wednesday, instead of Monday or Tuesday, due to a conflict the judge has, he said.

Her father reported her missing May 8, 2016, Mother’s Day. Friends and family held a vigil on the beach in Pascagoula before her body was found.

Richmond police arrested Lowe on May 16, 2016, three days before Jessie Bardwell’s decomposing body was found in a field. Police had found evidence of a possible homicide at that residence. It took several days to confirm her identity. Authorities believe she was killed sometime between April 29 and May 9.

An autopsy shows how she died is unclear, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“I’m glad the trial is finally here because it’s been a year and four months,” Gary Bardwell said. “I’m very anxious.”

Bardwell said he has been subpoenaed to testify.

Jessie Bardwell had lived in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for several years. In an out-of-character move, she met Lowe through her boyfriend and moved to Texas with Lowe before Christmas in December 2015, her father said.

Her father said he learned she was living in Texas, and then he lost touch with her.

“I was going nuts,” he said. “She really wasn’t like that. I think (Lowe) had a lot to do with her cutting off communications.”

Bardwell described his daughter as “very incredible, a unique person with a heart of gold.

“She was just a good girl, never really gave me any trouble. She was a hard worker. And she loved the beach and being on the water.”

Bardwell had lived in the Gulf Shores area several years. She worked at Cobalt, a beachfront restaurant, for six years, her father said. Before that, she worked at a store in the Tangers Outlets mall in Foley, Alabama.

“She definitely didn’t deserve this,” Gary Bardwell said. “Of all people, she didn’t deserve this.”

Family and friends shared their grief when they learned her body was found.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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