Homicide is a tragedy that rarely touches Rockwall County. Rockwall Police Department Sgt. Jeff Welch could only recall two such incidents in the past three decades, one dating back to the mid-80s.
But when RPD responded to a call in the 300 block of Lynne Drive in the Lake Rockwall Estates Tuesday night, they found 15-year-old Surie Baeza dead with multiple stab wounds to her torso. Her body was taken to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office, and preliminary autopsy reports have confirmed that it was indeed a homicide.
Police have arrested Juan Enrique Torres, 41, of Belize after he confessed to the crime. Torres is the longtime boyfriend of Surie Baeza’s mother, police said, and the father of Surie’s half-sibling.
“I am just in shock that something like this happened so close to home,” Evelia Salazar, one of Baeza’s neighbors, said. “I’ve lived here all my life; things like this just don’t happen in Rockwall. They just don’t. It’s so tragic. She was so young. I feel so bad for her family, that they are having to go through something like this.”
According to the police account, Torres killed Baeza in a fit of rage after getting in an argument with the teen. She stormed out of her bedroom and threatened to call police. Torres grabbed a knife from a kitchen drawer, stabbed Baeza multiple times in the torso, then returned the knife to the kitchen drawer, police said.
When Baeza’s mother checked on her daughter that afternoon, she thought she was asleep. It wasn’t until approximately 7 p.m. that evening that RPD discovered that Baeza, who was a ninth grader at Rockwall-Heath High School and turned 15 last Sunday, was dead.
Torrres signed a written confession, police said. He was not a suspect at the beginning of their investigation, but after police narrowed down the timeline of Baeza’s death, they did more questioning.
That’s when Torres confessed, police say, and was arrested around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Friends expressed shock and outrage at news of Baeza’s death Wednesday night, although her boyfriend Joseph Loo, 15, painted a complicated family life.
“She had kind of a rough home life and her biological father has never really been around, and so she was always mad at him about that,” he said. “It caused her and her mother to get into a lot of arguments. She and her stepdad got into an argument one time and she ran away and came over to my house. We talked about it for a little while and after she calmed down my mother drove her back home.”
Loo’s mother, Julie Thurston, was particularly close to Baeza.
“I took her to school every day and picked her up,” she said. “She was with me all the time. She was funny. She could make you laugh. She was good at that. She was like a daughter to me.”
Tonight at 7 p.m. in Lake Pointe Church, a prayer vigil will be held. No funeral arrangements have been announced.
Rockwall Independent School District’s Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Sheri Fowler said that the ISD’s counseling department was made aware of the incident Tuesday morning and counselors were available for RISD students and staff.
According to Welch, the most recent homicide in the city of Rockwall was six to seven years ago. This incident is unique in that both of the previous homicide victims were adults.
Nicole Cavanaugh, a Relationship Banker at the American National Bank of Texas, as confirmed that a benefit account has been set up for Baeza at the American National Bank. Deposits can be made at any of their locations, and individuals who wish to donate simply have to reference Baeza's name.