Man convicted of killing Alabama woman despite police never finding dead body

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

A man who was arrested 12 years after a woman went missing was convicted of capital murder in her slaying Thursday despite authorities never locating a body.

Jurors convicted Derrill Richard Ennis, 41, in the slaying of Lori Ann Slesinski, 24, during their second day of deliberations, news outlets reported.

A judge sentenced the man to life in prison without parole after a prosecutor said the victim’s mother didn’t want to pursue the death penalty because of the lengthy appeals that often are involved, WRBL-TV reported. The state had planned to seek Ennis’ execution.

Ennis was obsessed with Slesinski and killed her when she refused to be more than friends, prosecutors argued. Ennis testified they had consensual sex and Slesinski vanished after leaving to meet a drug dealer.

Slesinski’s mother reported her missing June 13, 2006, and her burned-out car was found the next day. Ennis left Auburn after being questioned by police and was arrested in Virginia in 2018.

Under questioning during the trial, Ennis denied dumping Slesinski’s body and said he didn’t know what happened to her.

Ennis’ semen was found inside Slesinski’s mobile home, forensic evidence showed, and investigators found a phone, minus its long cord, in her bedroom. A rolled cigarette with Ennis’ DNA was found near Slesinski’s burned vehicle, and the man had fresh scratches on his arms and hands when questioned by police. Cleaning supplies, a knife and handcuffs were found in Ennis’ car, evidence showed.

Ennis testified that scratches on his arms came from his dog, and the defense suggested someone planted the cigarette with Ennis’ DNA at the scene of the burned-out vehicle.