On March 5, 1993, 12-year-old Rick Ennis was strolling at night time alongside a darkish Alabama freeway, not removed from Montgomery. He had simply crashed his household’s automotive on the aspect of the highway, towards a fence, and was on foot heading dwelling.
That’s when John Clark, then an Alabama state trooper, crossed paths with Ennis, who unbeknownst to him had murdered his dad and mom.
Rick Ennis spoke completely with “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant about killing his dad and mom, and concerning the disappearance years later of his pal, Lori Slesinski, in “A Man With a Previous,” airing Saturday at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount +.
Van Sant additionally interviewed Clark, who mentioned he’ll always remember the night time he responded to the accident, and noticed Ennis within the headlights of his marked police automotive.
“As my headlights take within the curve, I see it appears like a younger boy with a backpack,” Clark recalled.
Clark mentioned Ennis admitted he was driving the crashed automotive, and he allowed Clark to go looking his backpack.
“The very first thing I pull out is a kitchen knife,” Clark mentioned. “There’s some 12-gauge and a few 22-caliber free ammunition within the backside of the bag.”
He recalled placing younger Ennis within the again seat of his patrol automotive, initially pondering that Ennis can be in bother along with his dad and mom for taking the automotive for a journey.
However when Clark began asking Ennis questions, Ennis instructed the now retired state trooper one thing unimaginable.
“I mentioned, ‘The place are your dad and mom?’ Clark recalled. “He appears proper again at me, and he says, “I killed them each … No tears, no emotion, nothing.”
Clark says that admission set in movement a string of exercise that ended with native police in Montgomery going into Ennis’ dwelling, the place they found the our bodies of his mom, Dolly, and his stepfather, Eddie Joe Flowers. The couple had met in church and have been married solely 10 months.
In keeping with authorities, Ennis confessed that he initially shot his mom within the face, after which beat her to loss of life. He mentioned he then shot and killed his stepfather with a shotgun blast to the face when he obtained dwelling from work. On the time, Ennis instructed investigators he killed his dad and mom as a result of he was indignant that that they had deliberate to maneuver. Investigators additionally mentioned that he lived with their our bodies for 2 days whereas persevering with to go to high school. And through a search of the house, the police additionally discovered what they describe as a “to-do” listing that included killing his three stepsisters.
Below Alabama legislation, Ennis served 9 years in juvenile detention, till he was launched after he turned 21. He ultimately moved to Auburn, the place he labored in a bowling alley, and befriended.
However on Saturday June 10, 2006, Slesinski vanished with no hint, and every little thing modified.
In keeping with Slesinski’s greatest pal, Lindsay Braun, she and Lori had deliberate that night time to have a women’ night time at Braun’s dwelling. The 2 younger girls first met throughout junior yr at Auburn College. After graduating in 2004, they grew even nearer after they began working collectively at an area psychological well being facility.
“We have been going to have drinks at my home,” Braun defined to Van Sant. “We have been going to have Rum Runners, I consider, and watch a film and simply type of hang around, do woman time.”
“She known as me round 6:30 and mentioned, I’m going to cease by the shop, decide up the drink mixes, after which I’ll be headed to your home,” Braun continued. “After which the telephone rang about half-hour later. It rang a couple of times. I answered, nobody was there.”
“What number of instances…had she merely not confirmed up, and never known as you?” Van Sant requested.
“By no means,” Braun replied.
Braun mentioned she went to sleep that night time, hoping Slesinski determined to go to one other pal who had simply had a child, or that one thing else had come up.
The next day, she nonetheless couldn’t attain Lori.
“I known as her home a number of instances … left voicemails on her dwelling answering machine,” Braun mentioned.
Braun says she knew Ennis had been with Slesinski on Saturday, as a result of she heard his voice within the background when she and Lori final spoke.
“They have been mates so I wasn’t involved,” Braun defined to Van Sant.
However when Slesinski failed to point out up for work after the weekend, Braun turned involved, and texted Lori’s pal, Ennis.
Lindsay mentioned Ennis texted her again that he assumed she can be fantastic.
On Tuesday, after Slesinski was a no-show at work for a second day, Braun and a co-worker headed over to Lori’s cell dwelling to search for her.
When she obtained there, she knew straight away one thing was “terribly mistaken.”
“The door was unlocked, which was not like her … the air situation was operating. Her canine, Peanut, was within the crate,” Braun defined.
Slesinski was not there. And there was one thing else that was unusual: When she let Peanut out of his crate, Braun mentioned he appeared comfortable and nicely fed. And his crate was clear, as if somebody had taken care of him, though Lori was gone for practically three days.
“What are you pondering?” Van Sant requested Braun.
“One thing’s terribly mistaken … There isn’t any method she would have left Peanut.”
In the meantime, Slesinski’s mom, Arlene, who labored as a nurse in a house for the aged, obtained a name from one among Lori’s coworkers.
“I consider it was her boss … and he or she instructed me that ‘I simply wish to let you know, your daughter, Lori, has not confirmed up for work’ And straight away, bells and whistles went off,” Arlene Slesinski mentioned.
She mentioned she instantly headed to Auburn, calling her husband, Casey, and the Auburn police throughout her agonizing drive to the cell dwelling she and her husband had purchased their daughter when she determined to attend Auburn College.
Police initially handled Slesinski’s disappearance as a lacking individuals case. Lee County District Lawyer Jessica Ventiere defined that, in Auburn, which is a significant school soccer city, younger folks could “go off” and “be lacking for a short time, however they arrive again.”
However not Lori.
4 days after she disappeared, Slesinski’s automotive out of the blue exploded right into a fireball on a desolate cul-de-sac outdoors a development web site, not removed from her dwelling, in a manicured trailer park well-liked amongst college students. Lori was not within the torched automotive, police mentioned.
“There was no hint of her in any way,” Ventiere added. “I imply, none.”
Lori’s mom, Arlene, was past frightened.
“The sentiments have been simply unbelievable, of worry, and figuring out one thing actually dangerous has occurred,” Arlene mentioned.
The police spoke to Ennis as a result of he was not solely a pal of Lori’s, however he was additionally in her dwelling the day Lori disappeared. Ennis instructed them Lori was fantastic when he left her. However when police re-interviewed him, they seen scratches on his arms and fingers, and that he made inconsistent statements.
Then they discovered about Ennis’ disturbing previous: that he had killed his mom and stepfather.
Mockingly, Arlene mentioned that Ennis spent Christmas 2005 at their household’s dwelling. She mentioned Lori had invited him as a result of she felt sorry for him. She mentioned he had no household. She didn’t know why, Arlene mentioned.
Regardless of Ennis’ surprising previous, and the circumstantial proof pointing to him, authorities on the time believed that, with out, any direct proof linking him to Lori’s disappearance — and with out discovering her physique — they might not make an arrest.
Quickly, Ennis moved away, and Lori’s case rapidly went chilly. However a decade later, in 2016, the Alabama Legislation Enforcement Company created a chilly case unit, led by Mark Whitaker, a particular agent with the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation. He selected Lori’s case as their first investigation. His staff, which included Whitaker’s long-time companion, J.W. Barnes, started to pour over recordsdata, re-interview witnesses, and ship out varied proof to a forensic laboratory for testing.
Ultimately they discovered important proof that had been neglected, and after an 18-month investigation, they lastly had sufficient to current to a grand jury, together with a hand-rolled cigarette police mentioned was recovered close to Lori’s scorched automotive again in 2006. It had Ennis’ DNA on it. So did blood on the inside of the entrance door to Lori’s trailer, and semen on her bedsheet.
In August 2018, a activity drive of legislation officers arrested Ennis in rural Virginia, the place he was residing and engaged to a college librarian. He was charged with murdering Lori Slesinski.
For Whitaker, breaking the information to Lori’s mom was the spotlight of his profession, but it surely was not a straightforward name.
Tragically, Lori’s disappearance was not Arlene’s solely loss. Not lengthy after Ennis was arrested, her 41-year-old son, Paul, succumbed to a stroke and most cancers. In 2020, her husband, Casey, contracted COVID-19 and died from the illness.
In March 2022, Ennis lastly went on trial for for Slesinski’s homicide.
Prosecutors knew they weren’t permitted to deliver up his earlier conviction for killing his dad and mom. However in an unique interview with Van Sant, the now 42-year-old Ennis talked about it. He mentioned in 1993 he latched onto the excuse that he didn’t wish to transfer, and that the true cause he killed his dad and mom was that he was abused by his mom. “48 Hours may discover no proof to corroborate Ennis’ allegation.
Ennis additionally instructed Van Sant that he had nothing to do with Lori’s disappearance.
“I by no means murdered Lori Slesinski,” Ennis instructed Van Sant. “She was a really shut, pricey pal of mine. I by no means would have harm her.”
At his trial, Ennis took the stand in his personal protection. His fiancée, Alana Atkinson, watched as he maintained his innocence. His protection additionally steered that the police had planted proof to border him.
After two weeks, it was as much as a jury to resolve if Ennis had killed once more.