Paula Zahn’s series on the ID network On The Case With Paula Zahn aired an episode Last Stop Murder that showed how what at the time seemed like a insignificant decision could cost someone their life. The series shows the actual investigators and their recollections of their investigation. There are no actors used in the episodes.
I won’t mention any names except those of the convicted criminals out of respect for the family of the girl that was killed. The episode is airing on the ID Network at 5:00 PM ET today for anyone that is interested in seeing the episode.
The boyfriend of the murdered girl said when questioned by detectives she had called and asked him if he wanted her to pick up anything at the store on her way home. He said he wanted some chocolate milk and another item I can’ t recall right now.
She stops at a convenience store and is shown on video getting the items her boyfriend requested. There was a man loitering in the store and had asked the clerk if he could sleep in the store. By the time the girl arrived he had been in the store for an hour.
Girl Refuses To Give Man Ride
He asks the girl for a ride but she refused. She then made a life-ending mistake by going to her car with the man in the store following her to the car and the store video only shows the man heading toward her car.
The detective who worked on the case said he wanted to tell the girl not to leave the store with the killer when he viewed the video but knew he couldn’t because he knew how the story ended.
Killer Murders Girl
The killer then stole her car and assaulted and murdered her. He drives to a friend’s apartment to borrow a gas can and some money for gas.
After that he drives to another convenience store and is shown again on video filling his gas can and paying for the purchase. At some point he tried to burn up the car but failed.
Captured on Film Burning Body
He then drives to a parking lot of a company which has a video of the parking lot so he is captured again on video. He get out of his car and takes the dead body of the girl into a grassy area and sets her on fire. A huge fireball is shown on the video and he drives away.
The car is later found after he abandoned it. The video from the parking lot didn’t give the detectives a lot of information but they examined the video closer and from the shape of the car and the headlight configuration determined it was a Saturn.
Detectives Identify Victim
Since the body was charred they couldn’t identify the victim. However when they found the car they checked the license plate and traced the car and found the name of the victim.
I forgot how they identified the killer but it may have been through fingerprints or DNA. Once they had identified the killer as Ernesto Reyes they started searching for him.
Mexican Government Extradites Reyes
It wasn’t easy though since he had fled to Mexico. The Mexican government wouldn’t agree to extradite the killer unless the prosecutors would agree to waive a death sentence in the case. The prosecutor is shown saying he would rather have the killer be given a life sentence rather than letting him go unpunished and let him stay in Mexico.
His friend who had been an accessory in the crime was identified as Donovan Young and he testified against Reyes during the trial and Young received an eight year sentence for his cooperation.
Reyes Showed No Remorse During Trial
Reyes showed no remorse during the trial. The parents of the murdered girl spoke before the judge declared his sentence. The father said he could never hug his daughter again or hear her say “I love you daddy” .
The most revolting part of the trial was when the defense lawyer tried to say that the girl was on drugs and had willingly let Reyes ride in her car. She had no hint of ever using drugs in her entire life and the defense attorney is slandering a dead woman in a courtroom. It disturbs me that an attorney is allowed to attack the character of dead person when there are no facts to substantiate his charges.
There was a very emotional moment after the life sentence was rendered by the judge. The mother of the killer walked to the parents of the murdered girl and said she was sorry…not for her son but for the girl who had been killed and it meant a lot to the parents of the victim.
Reyes Claims His Innocence
Reyes is shown in prison after his sentence and he was smiling and trying to pin the crime on Young acting like he had nothing to do with the murder. Videos don’t like though and he was the one shown leaving the convenience store at the same time as the victim. He is shown again filling the gas can in another video and then he is captured on video again taking the dead body to the grassy area and then driving away after a massive fireball lit up the sky.
This story shows how fragile life can be. A girl innocently buying something for her girlfriend is brutally murdered and burned.
Watching the video of her leaving the store is chilling especially when the man is following her to her car. It makes me think of some of the options that might have saved her life.
If she had gone to the women’s restroom and called her boyfriend to meet her at the store because she was afraid to leave by herself….if she had stayed in the store till the man had left before going to her car and having the clerk watch while she got into her car in case she had left the door unlocked and the man was in her car.
Clerk Should Have Called Police
If the clerk had called the police about the man loitering in his store and wanting to sleep there the man would not even be in the store in the first place.
All these ifs will not bring her back now that she is dead but it may alert other women and men who find themselves in a similar situation and perhaps save some lives.
It would be interesting to know what the readers would have done if they were in the same situation as this girl and anyone is welcome to comment.
I am recalling this strictly from memory so I may be not be 100 percent accurate so it would be worth seeing yourself to make sure of the facts in the case.
Anyone wanting more details of this case can read these articles about the killer Ernesto Reyes: