A Tahoka woman told authorities she didn't know she hit a person, but other witnesses say she admitted to the crime. Karen Follis, 45, was in the Lubbock County Jail Tuesday night. Authorities charged her early Tuesday afternoon with failure to stop and render aid.
Investigators say Follis hit 25-year-old Kristine Bufkin with a truck over the weekend, dragged her body approximately five miles, and then left it in the middle of the road. A passing motorist found Bufkin's mangled body Saturday morning underneath the East Loop 289 overpass at Southeast Drive.
Now, the arrest warrant is revealing new details about what led up to the gruesome discovery. The warrant states Follis borrowed the pick-up that police say she hit Bufkin with, and then told owner she hit someone. It also states she called her boyfriend for help, and he and two other witnesses saw Bufkin's body hanging from the truck. "There, the suspect stopped the vehicle and the victim's body was removed from the vehicle," Lubbock Police Captain Greg Stevens said.
Investigators say it appears this story began late Friday, when Bufkin wrecked her car along F.M. 1729. Authorities believe she was not severely injured and started walking down the road for help. That's when they say Follis hit her near East 50th Street with a Ford Ranger. "She very clearly died from being struck by a motor vehicle," Stevens said.
The owner of the Ranger told police that Follis called him, saying she'd hit a girl, but didn't know it until she saw a shirt flapping beside the truck as she drove down the road. Follis' boyfriend, 45-year-old Erasmo Rodriguez, also named a person of interest in this case, told police that she called him for help. Rodriguez says he, and two other men found Follis standing beside the Ranger at the Loop and Southeast Drive, with a body stuck to the passenger side by its clothing. Rodriguez says he helped detach the body from the truck, then left.
"There is nothing to indicate, so far, that we can substantiate, that shows she acted intentionally," Stevens said. Follis told police she thought she'd hit a deer or dog, and didn't discover until the day after that Bufkin had been hit and killed.
The warrant also reveals a possible connection between Follis and Bufkin. "Right now it seems to be just more coincidence," Stevens said. It states that Bufkin's boyfriend's brother is the owner of the ranger. "The connection is there. Now, how strong that connection is, is still part of the investigation. What bearing it has on the situation has been an on going part of it. From what detectives can tell right now, there's no indication that it is involved in the collision itself," Stevens said.
Police are still speaking with the other involved parties, but right now no one else is charged. Follis was jailed on a $100,000 bond Tuesday night. Authorities say she could face additional charges if they find she intentionally hit Bufkin.
Bufkin attended Monterey High School and South Plains College. She leaves behind a young son and her parents. Friends and family will celebrate her life Wednesday afternoon. The service is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Monterey Baptist Church.
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