Auburn and Lee County authorities have made an arrest in the 12-year-old murder of Lori Ann Slesinski, District Attorney Brandon Hughes announced Tuesday.
Derrill Richard "Rick" Ennis, 38, was arrested in Montgomery County, Virginia, on Monday by the members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, Virginia State SWAT and Montgomery County Virginia SWAT teams.
Law enforcement was able to apprehend Ennis in Virginia after Hughes and police were able to obtain two capital murder indictments from a Lee County grand jury earlier this month. As the case was nearing an indictment, Hughes said it became difficult to find Ennis.
He would get other people to pay his bills. He flew under the radar.
"That was not an easy task. The last few months have been trying to locate where he is. He didn't want to be found," Hughes said.
The team investigating the case received information that he was located in South Carolina. Hughes and others from Lee County law enforcement went to South Carolina to help local authorities apprehend him. He wasn't there, but they were soon able to track him to Virginia, where he was apprehended.
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"They overwhelmed him and took him into custody," Hughes said.
Ennis faces two capital murder indictments because he is accused of killing Slesinski in the course of a burglary and a kidnapping, both of which are felonies and aggravating factors in a murder case.
The Auburn Police Division, Hughes' office and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's Cold Case Unit collaborated to re-launch the Slesinski case last year.
When Slesinski was reported missing on June 13, 2006, she hadn't been heard from in several days, police said. Her family couldn't reach her. She hadn't reported for work. The last time anyone had spoken to her was three days prior.
A day later, June 14, 2006, police found her vehicle, a 2005 Mazda Tribute. It was engulfed in flames, sitting at the end of the Dekalb Street in Auburn.
Ennis quickly became a person of interest in the case, but shortly after he was questioned by police, he left Auburn.
"They invested a great deal of resources and so many times in solving any case, but particularly a homicide case, it's largely about timing, and this case really was no different," Hughes said at a press conference Tuesday. "Despite the massive amount of resources put into and the amount of effort that was made into doing it ... no arrests were made back in June 2006."
Hughes said, in this case, it was more of an ongoing case than a murder case.
"It was constantly being investigated by the Auburn Police Division. It has, since the day they were notified of Ms. Slesinski's disappearance, it's had an investigator assigned. When they would get leads, they would investigate that and run those leads down."
The investigation into her murder went cold, but when authorities re-launched the collaborative investigation in April of last year, Ennis became the prime suspect, leading to his two-count indictment. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force took Ennis into custody Monday along with assistance from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, several different Virginia law enforcement agencies.
He's being held without bond in Virginia pending extradition to Auburn to face the murder charges.
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