Mom's Ex Confesses to Teen's Murder: Police

Investigators say mother's former boyfriend fatally stabbed 15-year-old Surie Baeza

By Frank Heinz and Omar Villafranca
|  Friday, Nov 2, 2012  |  Updated 8:22 PM CDT
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Rockwall police say the man who confessed to killing 15-year-old Surie Baeza has a broken wrist presumably sustained in the attack.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

Rockwall police say the man who confessed to killing 15-year-old Surie Baeza has a broken wrist presumably sustained in the attack.

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Mother's Former Boyfriend Arrested in Teen's Death

Rockwall police say the estranged boyfriend of the victim's mother has confessed to the stabbing death of a 15-year-old high school student.
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Police say the stabbing death of a 15-year-old Rockwall high school student has been solved after her mother's estranged boyfriend confessed Thursday to the killing.

Rockwall police said Juan Enrique Torres, 41, of Belize, told detectives that he argued with Baeza on Tuesday morning and killed her in a fit of rage when she threatened to call police.

"It was something to do with taking her to a pawn shop to get something repaired or drop something off, but he refused to take her, and an argument developed and went from there," Sgt. Jeff Welch said.

Detectives said Torres called them at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday and said he wanted to talk. When he met with detectives, he told them that he had killed the girl and provided a written confession.

"I can only hope Surie's mom can sleep a little better tonight knowing justice will be served for Surie," Welch said.

Police said Torres told them he left the knife used in the slaying inside the girl's home.  On Friday, police said Torres struck Baeza in the head with a wooden closet rod, stabbed her and then locked the bedroom door as he left the room. They said he then cleaned the knife, put it back in a drawer and left the home.  He told police he later ditched any bloody items in a Dallas trash bin.

Investigators later returned to the home and recovered what they believe is the knife used to kill Baeza. Police said they won't know if it is the murder weapon until it can be tested by forensic investigators.  Friday, police said they also recovered the bloody items from the trash bin.

Rockwall police said Torres was in a relationship with Baeza's mother for eight years. Until recently, he lived at the home and had access to the residence, they said.

Torres and Baeza's mother have a 7-year-old child, police said.

Torres has been placed under arrest and is being held in the Rockwall County Jail. Police said he was formally charged Thursday night and is being held on $1 million bond. 

Torres served 15 months probation for a 2008 domestic violence charge in Dallas County. The victim in that case is not yet known, but Torres and Baeza's mother were dating at that time, police said.

Community Struggles With Slaying

More than 200 friends and neighbors of a slain Rockwall teenager packed into the Lakepoint Park Community Center on Thursday to start the healing process.  Another vigil is scheduled for Friday night at the same park -- beginning at 7 p.m.

The crowd of parents and teenagers, along with pastors and counselors talked Thursday about the killing of 15-year-old Surie Baeza. A pastor even announced to some in the crowd that Juan Torres, the former boyfriend of the teenager's mother, had confessed to the slaying.

During the more than hour-long gathering, parents asked about how to talk to their children, who might be feeling sad or upset. Other parents asked how they can communicate better as a community to prevent other crimes.

Kris Wade came with his 13-year-old daughter. The family knew Baeza from band and said he wants his daughter to talk about her emotions to start the healing process.

"As a parent, it's a tough conversation to handle, to approach it on a level that they might understand it," Wade said, adding that school officials were also helping out.

Parents said it was hard to learn that something like the slaying could happen in their small community.

"Rockwall is not used to this," Wade said. "Rockwall is a very tight community. It's obviously a great place to live. We all come together as a community and support each other, and that's the only way as a community you get through this."

The community will gather at Lakepoint Park Community Center on Friday at 7 p.m. for a vigil.

Mother Found Girl's Body

Baeza's mother found her daughter's body on the floor of her bedroom at about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday and called 911.

She told police her daughter had stayed home from school that day because she had felt ill and that, though she'd arrived home at about 4 p.m., she hadn't seen her daughter since that morning.

On Thursday, the medical examiner said the girl died of several stab wounds and that she also suffered defensive wounds, meaning she fought against her attacker.  On Friday, NBC 5 learned that Torres didn't escape the attack unscathed -- officials said he has a broken wrist and has complained of stomach pain.

The medical examiner said complete autopsy results would not be available for some time.

Detectives also said on Thursday morning that they initially had a 12-hour window for when the murder could have taken place, but that the window of opportunity was reduced to two hours after they received a report that someone saw her alive at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, just two hours before her mother returned home from work.

Baeza was a freshman at Rockwall Heath High School.

NBC 5's Mark Schnyder, Ellen Goldberg and Ben Russell contributed to this report.

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