A Texas man’s discarded cigarette that he left behind after killing and sexually assaulting a Baytown woman helped link him to the crimes, according to police.
ABC17 reports that authorities arrested Byron Lloyd Collins, 29, and charged him with capital murder in connection with the Mother’s Day 2016 killing of Nataliya Shal, 50. Police found Shal’s lifeless body inside her apartment at the Lakes of Madera Apartments on West Baker in Baytown, lying facedown.
David Englerth, the victim’s husband, was working out of town as a truck driver when the incident occurred. He called the police to check on her when he couldn’t reach her by phone. When responding officers arrived to Shal’s apartment, they saw her body after peering through a window of the home.
Initially, DNA testing didn’t yield any matches and for over a year, detectives have been piecing together information in an attempt to catch the killer. They got a break in the case by using “advanced DNA detective work” while matching the evidence against DNA in prison inmate databases, according to KHOU. Authorities found a familial match with the suspect’s brother, currently in prison.
“We got a killer off the streets. I hope they can sleep a little better tonight,” Baytown Police Lt. Steve Dorris said after the arrest.
According to friend and neighbor Sheila Shelton, Sal moved from Russia to Texas around a year prior to the murder.
“She was always a full-of-life person,” said Sheila Shelton, neighbor. “Always smiling – every time I saw her she was smiling.”
If convicted, Collins faces life in prison or the death penalty.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
**Editor’s Note: Correction**
A previous version of this story misstated the relationship between Collins and the victim. The victim and the suspect are not related. We have updated the story and regret the error.
[Feature Photo: Byron Collins/Baytown PD, Nataliya Shal/Family Handout]