Jackie’s parents Rick and Sonja Vandagriff have never publicly discussed their daughter's brutal murder in 2016 until now: "You wish you could say goodbye. We never did."
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Jackie’s face was plastered across newspapers, TV screens, and social media for weeks after her body was found near Lake Grapevine in September 2016.
There was hair-raising surveillance footage of Jackie meeting her imminent killer, Charles Bryant, at a Denton bar just hours before her death.
Just 20 months later, Sonja still feels the loss of her daughter almost every minute of every day.
"It becomes more and more real as time goes by," she said. "It's worse now, worse now than it's ever been."
For Rick, a pilot with American Airlines, he will never forget the memory of the last Sunday he saw Jackie before she died.
"I was watching football," he said. "She came in and we talked and that was it. I do think about that day You wish you could say goodbye. We never could."
Charles Bryant Jr., 31, was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life in prison.
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Prosecutors said there was no evidence Bryant and Vandagriff had sex and that the murder was deliberate.
Why cut out the heart? What does it have to do with disposing of a body? He cut her heart out,” prosecutor Lucas Allan said, according to the Star-Telegram. "I want that image to sink in."
"We don't celebrate holidays or birthdays anymore," her father, Rick Vandagriff, said in livestreamed testimony during the sentencing phase of the trial. "Friends invite us over for holiday dinners. But we can't celebrate in the house and look at her chair."
Jackie’s parents have partnered with Texas Woman's University to offer an endowment in Jackie's memory.
She was advancing as a junior in the school's nutrition and food services program.
Monica Mendez-Grant, the university's Vice President for Student Life, said they're looking to help young women who mirror Jackie.
"We're looking at applicants who are curious, bright and have a real desire for life-long learning," Mendez-Grant said.
Jackie was an advocate for animals and at a young age decided that she should be a vegetarian.
"That started when she was three," Sonja said. "She really tried to get everyone to eat healthier."
Jackie’s parents encourage people to support Operation Kindness, a no-kill shelter in Carrollton.
Photos of Jackie help her parents push forward, even on days when the idea seems impossible.
"She hasn't given me any permission to give up in any way, " Sonja said. "I have to keep going."
Rick said he purposefully had Jackie buried a couple of streets away from their home.
It helps to have a physical spot to visit even if it's actually her spirit that will endure.
"She used to always be moving. I remembered I'd come home from a trip. I would see her flash across the door and leap into my arms," he said. "I have dreams about that."
<b>By: Lexy </b>
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