OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Lee County prosecutors told jurors Friday morning during opening statements, defendant Derrill Ennis kidnapped and murdered 24-year-old Lori Ann Slesinski in June of 2006 because he was romantically obsessed with her, and she refused to be more than just his friend.
The defense maintains Ennis is innocent, saying the pair were good friends, with Ennis spending Christmas with Slesinsk’s family in the months before she vanished.
16-years after Lori Ann Slesinsk vanished from her Auburn home and three years after Ennis was arrested in the Capital Murder, Lori Ann’s mother was called as the state’s second witness. Slesinski’s body has never been located. Her mother, Arlene Slesinsk, told jurors she has not heard from her daughter since she vanished, not even when Lori’s older brother died of cancer, and her father died from COVID-19 complications.
Slesinski’s mom testified when her daughter failed to show up to a party on Saturday, June 10th, 2006, and then to work the following Monday, her family reported her missing to Auburn Police. At Lori’s mobile home, the door was found slightly ajar, her beloved dog kenneled with no food or water, and scuff marks up the walls. Valuables remained at the home, including electronics and jewelry. However, several items were missing, including rugs in the kitchen, a phone receiver was found in her bedroom, but the long phone cord was missing from it, a green trash can with yard tools and Slesinski’s brand new blue Mazda Tribute were gone.
Prosecutors told jurors in opening statements the missing kitchen rugs were in Ennis’ possession after Lori vanished. Prosecutors say a roommate of Ennis told them Ennis had left the rugs behind when he moved out of their Huntsville apartment. The rugs were turned over to the police.
Lori’s mom also testified one of the last purchases on Lori’s credit card was for gas the Sunday before she was reported missing.
“There was a purchase for gas at the Chevron on June 11th, for 46.79,” said Slesinski.
Lori’s missing vehicle was found shortly after she vanished, on fire behind the Auburn Bowling Alley on Dekalb Street, where prosecutors told jurors Ennis worked. Investigators say a worker reported a small gas can was missing from the bowling alley. Investigators say a gas can was located in the woods near the vehicle.
Lori’s mother also testified she found a clump of hair in her daughter’s mobile home a few weeks after she vanished and a piece of broken jewelry. The defense points out the hair was not seen by investigators when they searched the house. Lastly, Lori’s mom testified her daughter was a fighter.
Slesinski would have celebrated her 40th birthday this year. For 12 years, the case remained unsolved until 2018, when a cold case unit led to a grand jury indictment. Ennis was arrested in Virginia for her Capital Murder during a burglary and kidnapping.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case. Testimony is expected to resume on Monday, with the state continuing to call its witnesses. Then it will be up to the defense. We do not know if Ennis will take the stand to testify in his defense.