Dallas Police Arrest Oklahoma Man for Uptown Hit-and-Run Death

Rachel Spelman, killed in Uptown on March 18.
Rachel Spelman, killed in Uptown on March 18. Rachel Spelman via Facebook
Dallas Police announced Tuesday afternoon they've arrested an Oklahoma man for the March 18 hit-and-run death of Rachel Spelman on Cedar Springs Road in Dallas. Spelman, 23, died sometime after 2:10 a.m., when she was struck by a dark-colored sedan while attempting to cross the street. Witnesses at the scene said the man driving the car that hit Spelman got out of his car after the accident, walked over to Spelman, looked down at her and then got back in the car and sped away.

Police said Tuesday that they received a call from the Freestone County Sheriff's Office with possible information about the accident that killed Spelman. DPD detectives traveled to Corsicana, where witnesses led them to believe that John Esparza, 38, may have been involved in the accident.

Eventually, a Madill, Oklahoma, address for Esparza was found. Esparza was arrested by Marshall County sheriff's deputies, who told DPD that a car at Esparza's home had damage consistent with having struck a pedestrian.
click to enlarge
John Esparza's blurry mugshot.
Marshall County Jail

Deputies took Esparza to the Marshall County Jail where he was interviewed by Dallas detectives. According to DPD, Esparza confessed to killing Spelman soon after they began talking to him.

Esparza remains in Marshall County Jail, pending extradition. He is charged with accident involving death, a second degree felony.

After Esparza's arrest, Tom Spelman, Rachel's dad, released the following statement:

"As we grieve for our beloved Rachel, I would like to also thank those witnesses that responded immediately in an effort to assist and comfort her before the first responders arrived. To you we are forever grateful. I also ask that there is improved safety for the pedestrians in the Uptown area. As you know the demographics of the area are mostly young, bright, and ambitious people with a lot to contribute to the world. Finally, Thank you for your prayers and support and please find it in your hearts to pray for those that have been apprehended and are responsible for this tragedy."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

Latest Stories