LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – The Medical Examiner's Office has determined that Elizabeth Ennen was strangled to death. Police continue to investigate her homicide and say Humberto Salinas, Jr. tried to steer their investigation away from the truth.
Detectives believe the suspect in Elizabeth's homicide stood right by her mother's side the day she filed a missing persons report about her daughter. Investigators say the 15-year-old sophomore at Monterey High School never had a chance.
"We believe unfortunately she was a homicide victim prior to the initial call to police," said Lubbock police Captain Greg Stevens at a joint news conference with the Lubbock County District Attorney's Office and the Lubbock County Medical Examiner's Office.
Arrest warrants detail a series of surveillance video that captured Elizabeth Ennen leaving the Carriage House Motel in fear with Salinas, the man whose kids she was babysitting on January 4th.
"He left with her and we believe at that time he killed her. There is evidence to suggest that," said Cpt. Stevens.
"The cause of death is asphyxia with strangulation," said Dr. Sridhar Natarajan, the chief medical examiner for Lubbock county. Dr. Natarajan would not comment about any signs of sexual assault.
Salinas later went to the Ennen's house early in the morning on January 5th where he told Elizabeth's mom that he dropped her off earlier, but that she forgot her purse. "Elizabeth's mom believed the story Salinas was giving her," said Cpt. Stevens.
Detectives explained how Salinas helped Elizabeth's mom file a missing person's report, but that he told police that she had been babysitting at a different motel. Police declined to release the name of the other location.
"At that point the person we believe is responsible for her death began the process of covering up a crime. He began misdirecting the investigation leading it for a lack of better terms in the opposite direction of the truth," said Captain Stevens.
Meanwhile, the investigation continued. Police searched for clues, conducted stake-outs and even looked at other individuals that might have known something about where Elizabeth was.
Captain Stevens said detectives discovered problems in the stories Salinas was sharing with them. They later learned Salinas had been at the Carriage House Motel and viewed the motel's security footage from the night Elizabeth disappeared. Within hours, police obtained an arrest warrant on an aggravated kidnapping charge related to Elizabeth's case.
Police say there are several crime scenes connected to the case and one of them may be an area near East 56th Street and Elm Avenue. Investigators searched that area Monday night, the same night they found Ennen's body in a field near Shallowater. Sources tell KCBD that Salinas helped detectives find Elizabeth, but District Attorney Matt Powell says there was nothing in it for him.
"I don't make deals. I'll answer that question, there was no deal for where her body was," said Powell. Powell added that he is in no rush to file upgraded charges against Salinas since he is already behind bars and it doesn't appear that he will be going anywhere. He is behind bars on a $250,000 bond for aggravated kidnapping.
There are some details that authorities simply would not release because they want to preserve them for trial including whether or not there were signs of sexual assault.
The DA's office plans to present the case to a grand jury.
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