"You mustn't be afraid of the dark. 'I'm not,' said Shadow. I'm afraid of the people in the dark,"
It was the 29th of August 2014. A Friday. Twenty three year old Christina Morris planned to spend that Friday night in Plano, Texas, United States. She grew up in Plano and still had friends there but she moved to Fort Worth in Texas with her boyfriend, Hunter Foster, when he got a job there. She settled well in Fort Worth and worked for a dating service company.
That weekend, Labor Day weekend, Christina went to Plano on the Friday night and met up with one of her friends, Paulina Petrosky. Christina and Paulina knew each other from Allen High School. As Christina was in Plano for the night, Paulina arranged for a few friends from Allen High School to meet up at her apartment to have a few drinks and then go to a bar. Paulina lived at the Shops at Legacy in Plano. The Shops at Legacy had residential property as well as commercial property. There were apartments, shops, restaurants and bars there so they would not have to go far to find a bar.
With the exception of one of the people there, Sabrina Boss, everyone at Paulina's apartment knew, or at least knew of each other, from Allen High School. Christina arrived at Paulina's apartment at 9pm that night and Sabrina Boss, Steven Nickerson, James Nyawera, Justin Hill, Brea Lofton and Enrique Arochi arrived around 10pm.
After they had a few drinks at Paulina's apartment, a few of the group went to Harry's Tavern first around 11pm and stayed for thirty minutes. They all met up at Scruffy Duffies afterwards. The bar closed at 2am and some of the group went home but Christina, Sabrina, Enrique and Steven decided to go back to Paulina's apartment. On the way back, Sabrina, Enrique and Paulina went to Whataburger to get some food from the drive-through.
Back at Paulina's apartment, they ate the food they got from the drive-through but Paulina and Steven noticed that Christina was upset. She explained that she had been texting her boyfriend Hunter that night but he stopped responding. She initially wanted him to go to the party with her but he went out with friends instead. She asked him to collect her but he stopped responding to her texts. It was 2.12 am. Over the next ninety minutes, Christina sent multiple text messages to Hunter and she did not get a single reply.
The text messages began with Christina asking if Hunter would collect her and then she asked him what was going on. She sent him a number of text messages pleading with him to respond and told him she had work later that day and another text message was to notify him that she lost her car keys. At 3.01am, she seemed frustrated that Hunter was not responding and sent him a text message saying "goodnight" and a number of text messages such as:
"U lost the best thing to even [sic] happen to u."
A few minutes later, she sent more text messages to notify him that she was "taking a taxi home" and "[s]ee ya one day." Christina sent a few more text messages between 3.20am and 3.48 am including text messages informing Hunter that she was not angry, her phone was dead and she found her car keys and was driving home. The last text message from Christina to Hunter was sent at 3:48:21 am.
Christina became increasingly upset as she sent text after text after text to Hunter. Steven and Paulina tried to console her. At one point, Christina said she would stay at Paulina's apartment for the night but then changed her mind and told the others that she wanted to go back to Fort Worth. Steven told Christina that he would drive her home the next morning but she wanted to go home that night. Christina didn't drink much that night and she drank earlier in the evening so the others did not think she was too intoxicated to drive.
Around the same time as Christina decided to leave, Enrique also decided he would head home. He offered to walk Christina to her car as he was heading home to see his girlfriend. When they left Paulina's apartment, Steven called Christina to ask how she was as she was still crying just before she left and she told him she was fine and almost at her car.
Christina was due in work later that day, the 30th of August, but she did not show up. Her colleagues tried to contact her repeatedly. They sent her text messages and called her and reached out to her on social media. It was not like Christina not to be in touch. She was a great employee. On one of her social media accounts, her Facebook page, they noticed a post from a friend asking Christina to call them as they were "worried sick." Fearing something was wrong, Christina's colleagues reached out to Christina's friend to let them know that she missed work that day and Christina's friend contacted her family to ask them if they knew where she was. They didn't.
Christina's parents and her stepmother called Christina's friends and discovered that the last time they saw her was at Paulina's apartment. They called Enrique and he told them that he left with Christina but when they got to the sidewalk, they went their separate ways. Enrique told her parents that Christina was on the phone when he left her but he did not know who she was speaking to. Her parents reported her missing.
Police spoke to Hunter. He was uncooperative when they initially spoke to him. Police told him that they wanted to look at his cell phone. He did not want to give police his cell phone. He reluctantly agreed to give it but only after he deleted some text messages.
Hunter said that he was not home on the Friday night. He told police he was at a bar in Dallas called the Concrete Cowboy. He confirmed he received multiple text messages from Christina that night but claimed that he didn't even read them and wasn't looking at his phone that night. Hunter told police that he only got home the next morning, the Saturday morning, at 10 am or 11 am. When he got home, Christina wasn't there and he told police he thought she was mad and had stayed with friends. That night, the Saturday night, he still had not heard from Christina and he went out again with friends. Hunter claimed he only became concerned when Christina's father called him on the Sunday to ask where she was.
Some of Christina's friends and her father told police that they believed Hunter either used or sold drugs. Hunter confirmed that on the night of the 29th of August, he was selling and using drugs. He took MDMA and Xanax and drank alcohol that night. When the bar closed at 2am, Hunter told police that he went to the W Hotel with friends. Police asked him if he went to Plano that night. He said that he did not but admitted that the night was a bit of a blur.
Hunter's account of the Friday night raised suspicion and police had to verify and corroborate everything he said. But despite their suspicions about Hunter and his possible involvement in Christina's disappearance, there was no evidence that she had come to any harm or that he was involved in any way.
Police went to the parking garage where Christina had parked her car on the Friday night. Christina and the others who were at Paulina's apartment that night had all parked their cars in the parking garage at Harry's Tavern. Police found her Toyota Celica. It was still in the parking garage and it was locked. Police did not find any evidence in the parking garage indicating that a struggle had taken place.
Police obtained surveillance footage from the area. The parking garage security camera footage showed Christina and Enrique walking into the parking garage together at 3.55am on the 30th of August. Just two minutes later, Enrique's car can be seen backing out from the space where it was parked and then the footage shows it leaving the parking garage at 3.58am. The footage did not show Christina or her car leaving the parking garage.
A Still from the Surveillance Footage
Police spoke to Enrique. Enrique told them that he left Paulina's apartment with Christina and they went their separate ways at the end of the apartment complex as, according to Enrique, they were parked at different parking garages. Enrique told police that when he left Christina, she was on her phone to someone at the time. Enrique told police that he did not know any further details as he had called his girlfriend. They asked if they could see his phone log so they could confirm the time and he told them that he was sending her text messages, he wasn't actually talking to her on the phone. When police asked to see the text messages, he said that that was not possible as his phone was set up to automatically delete older messages.
Police reviewed Enrique's cell phone records. They revealed that he sent a text message to his girlfriend on the Friday night, the 29th of August, at 8.02pm and they sent a few text messages back and forth. At 10.38 pm, his girlfriend asked him to call her. Enrique sent her a text message at 10.41pm and told her he was sleepy. Enrique's girlfriend believed that Enrique was at home in bed that night but he was already at Paulina's apartment at that time. The next text message she received from him was the next morning at 10.52 am.
When police spoke to Enrique further, he claimed that he did not know where Christina had parked her car. Security footage showed him arriving into the parking garage at the start of the night around the same time as the others and his car was parked one space across and one space over from Christina's car. Police asked him if Christina was ever in his car and he said that she was never in his car. He told them that he left the Shops at Legacy and drove home on Highway 75. That was not in line with his toll road and cell phone records. They indicated that he followed the Dallas North Tollway to Highway 121, passing through the Highway 121 toll gantry at 4.08am. Police showed him the footage they had of him entering the same parking garage as Christina. He claimed that he may have moved his car as he was so intoxicated that night that he could not remember where he had parked his car.
Police still had no idea where Christina was or what happened to her but at the end of their investigation, they believed they had enough evidence to charge Enrique with aggravated kidnapping.
Christina was still missing at the time of his arrest and Trial. Enrique pleaded not guilty.
It was the Prosecution's case that Enrique kidnapped Christina using force. To prove their case, they focused on five main elements:
1. Enrique was the last known person to see Christina that night
2. Enrique's car had damage on the front of the car and the car was thoroughly cleaned
3. Enrique's Injuries
4. Cell Phone Data-their cells phones "pinged" off of the same cell towers
5. Christina's DNA found on mat in trunk of Enrique's car
The Prosecution outlined the events of that night to the Jury which included the fact that Enrique was the last known person who saw Christina that night. The Jury heard that Enrique and Christina walked to the parking garage together that night after they left Paulina's apartment around 3.55am. Their cars were parked beside each other. They believed that the kidnapping either took place inside the parking garage or at some point later. The Prosecution believed when they were inside the parking garage, he may have bumped Christina with his car and put her into the trunk. Enrique then drove out of the parking garage with Christina in the trunk of his car. Alternatively, Christina may have accepted a ride home but changed her mind at some point. They admitted the surveillance footage from the parking garage into evidence which showed Enrique and Christina walking together into the garage, despite Enrique's account to police that they went their separate ways.
The footage showed that only one car was seen leaving the parking garage a few minutes later. No other person is shown leaving the parking garage during the next twenty or thirty minutes. Security footage revealed that their cars were parked nearly facing each other, with one space between them. When Enrique's car left the parking garage, no other person could be seen in the car but it was noted that the car had tinted windows.
The Jury heard that Enrique was due to start work at 8am that Saturday morning but he only arrived into work at 10.51am. A co-worker recalled that he:
"looked, kind of, hungover from the night before" and "rough around the edges, I guess you could say."
Enrique's co-worker testified that Enrique had bruises and scrapes that went up his arm and he was limping. He also saw what he believed was a bite mark on the inside of his forearm. Enrique told him that he was in a fight at the Shops at Legacy and that the person he was fighting with had bitten him. He bit him because Enrique had him in a chokehold. But Enrique later changed his story. He told his coworker later that same week that a tire rim fell on his hand as he was attempting to rotate the tires on his car and that had caused the marks.
Enrique's girlfriend testified that when she saw him on the Saturday evening, she observed an injury to his right hand and cuts on his hand and knuckles.
The Court heard testimony from Sabrina Boss. She testified that she thought Enrique was romantically interested in her that night and he seemed upset when she went to lie down on a bed instead of beside him on the couch. He said "Fine. I'll just go home." She thought at that point, his tone was angry. Enrique left and as Christina was leaving too, he offered to walk her to her car.
Steven Nickerson gave evidence. He testified that he called Christina after she left the apartment and she told him she was almost at her car and at that time, she sounded fine. She said that she would text him when she was at her car. But he did not receive a text message from her. He text her a few minutes later to ask if she made it to her car but he did not receive a reply. He called her a number of times but the calls went to her voicemail and when he called her the next day, his call went to her voicemail again.
The Prosecution admitted security camera video footage from the Kroger gas station into evidence. The footage showed Enrique using a rag to wipe the passenger side of the car. He then cleaned the trunk area of the car and put it through a car wash on the 3rd of September. Police found a bottle of odor remover, a multi-purpose cleaner, an all-purpose cleaner, paper towels, and rags in his trash.
The Prosecution provided evidence in relation to the cell phones. It was their case that Christina's and Enrique's cell phones connected with the same cell towers when Enrique left the parking garage. The Court heard that Christina's phone pinged off Spring Creek Boulevard cell tower at 3.46 am on the 30th of August and Enrique's pinged off the same cell tower at 3.57am. Christina's and Enrique's cell phone pinged off of the cell tower at 5800 Granite Parkway within a few minutes of each other and later they pinged off of a cell tower located on East Bethany Drive, not far from Enrique's home on Harvard Lane, in Allen.
The Court heard about Enrique's car, his 2010 gray Camaro. There was a dent on the front passenger side of the vehicle, on the right front fender. The interior of the car, specifically the front passenger side floorboard, had been recently vacuumed and cleaned when police searched the car but what really stood out was how exceptionally clean the underneath of the car was.The car was taken to a CSI garage and a Detective got under the car and noted it was "absurdly clean." He testified that he had "been under brand-new cars on car lots" that were not that clean. But when the car was put on a lift, some vegetation was found. Barney Lipscomb, a research Botanist, testified in relation to the vegetation found underneath Enrique's car. He identified three types of grasses: Bermuda grass, crab grass and hairy seed paspalum. The hairy seed paspalum is more commonly found in damp areas such as ponds, ditches or low wooded areas. He testified that the sample taken from the car was of recent origin and during the May to November 2014 growing season.
Enrique Arochi's Car
An Accident Investigator testified in relation to the damage on the car. He testified that the damage was consistent with a "soft impact," such as "the body, the buttocks, the hips, maybe a head."
The Jury heard testimony in relation to DNA evidence. A NTHSC DNA analyst, Christina Capt, swabbed the areas of the trunk mat from Enrique's car that had reacted with BlueStar. Two DNA profiles were obtained. Both were identified as matching Christina's DNA profile. Christina Capt testified that the DNA found "would be more likely to be a more significant source of DNA, such as a bodily fluid."
It was the Defense's case that there was no evidence against Enrique. They called four witnesses to testify. They focused on four main arguments in an attempt to show that the Prosecution's case was weak.
3. Other Suspects
4. Cell Phone Data
In relation to the Prosecution's claim that Enrique had a bite mark on his arm after Christina went missing, the Defense called a forensic dentist, Dr. Paula Brumit, to give evidence. She examined photos of Enrique's injuries and it was her opinion that the marks and scratches were not bite marks.
Christy Wilson, the evidence supervisor for the Plano Police Department, gave evidence. When the trunk mat was removed from Enrique's car, it was put inside a box but the box was too big to fit into the evidence locker so it was "closed as best as it can be". The box was left unsealed for three days. Christy gave evidence that that was a breach of protocol. The Defense were trying to cast doubt on how reliable the DNA found was if the trunk mat was left unsealed for three days. The Defense also suggested that the DNA might have been transferred by the person who examined Christina's car before they examined Enrique's car.
The Defense called LaTarence Dunbar to give evidence. They wanted to show the Jury that there were other lines of enquiry in Christina's case that police did not fully investigate such as Hunter Foster. LaTarence was a private security contractor and he testified that he met Christina at a nightclub in Uptown sometime around August 22nd or 23rd of 2014. When Hunter approached the two of them, Christina did not not talk further. She was very quiet.
In relation to Hunter, when he testified at Trial, he was serving a 33 month sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute MDMA. It was revealed that he sold drugs to an undercover federal officer on the night of the 29th of August 2014. His cell phone records showed he received a phone call from Enrique's phone at 3.50am on August 30th:
Detective Robyn Busby testified that this was "drug related" talk possibly referring to "rock crack cocaine" or "meth that comes in a rock" form. Hunter did not answer the phone or respond to that text message and it could not be determined whether it was Enrique or Christina using it at the time. The people at Paulina's apartment confirmed Christina's battery was low when she left Paulina's apartment that night.
The Defense told the Jury that while the surveillance footage from the parking garage did not show Christina leaving, it was their case that she could have left by other means. Police admitted it was possible for someone to have left on foot and not recorded. Furthermore, the video covering the garage area showed a green Kia Soul circling the garage multiple times at 4.08am. The driver of the Kia was not identified but police believed it may have been an Uber driver looking for their passenger. But, as the Defense pointed out, this could not be known as the driver was not identified.
In relation to the cell phone data, the Defense called Robert Aguero, a specialist in cell phone forensics and cell tower data analysis, to give evidence. He testified that records for both Enrique's and Christina's phones showed that after 4am they were only making data connections with the cell towers. Data connections are the least reliable way of determining where a cell phone is located. He testified it was not possible to determine the likely location of the phones based on this.
Enrique was found guilty of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2046.
Almost two years after Enrique's conviction, remains were found in a wooded area of Anna, Texas and were identified as belonging to Christina. The remains were found by excavators and construction workers who were clearing the area. To date, no murder charges have been brought.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello