The heartbroken family of teenage girl who was murdered, placed in a trunk, and dumped along a remote stretch of Texas highway is making a painful plea for the killer to surrender to police.
The emotional plea came Thursday from Alicia Chanta Moore's aunt, Jessica Byrd, on behalf of the 16-year-old murder victims' entire family.
"Do the right thing and turn yourself in. That's all we ask you to do so we can get some sort of peace from this situation," Byrd told The Huffington Post.
The distraught aunt, whose deep sorrow was evident in her voice, added, "We're not here to judge you. That's not our job. That's God's job."
The body of 16-year-old Alicia Moore was discovered at about 12 p.m. Tuesday in a furniture trunk along Highway 47. The body, police said, was transported to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office for the positive identification.
According to Greenville Police Chief Dan Busken, detectives are treating the case as a homicide. Moore appears to have suffered trauma wounds, though the exact cause of death has not yet been determined, Busken said.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us with this investigation," Busken said. "We have received many tips from the community, and we hope those tips continue to come in."
The police chief did not elaborate on what type of trauma Moore suffered and did indicate whether police have a suspect in mind.
Moore's body was found in Van Zandt County, about 40 miles away from Greenville where she disappeared. Moore was last seen Friday afternoon when she got off the school bus.
CASE PHOTOS: (Story Continues Below)
Police have released two new pictures they hope will lead to clues in the murder of Alicia Moore. The surveillance photos (the first seen here) show a dark-colored Chrysler or Dodge vehicle, possibly a minivan, directly behind the school bus as Moore gets off on Nov. 2, 2012, at about 3:25 p.m. Police are hoping someone can identify the driver of that vehicle as a potential witness.
Police have released two new pictures they hope will lead to clues in the murder of Alicia Moore. The surveillance photos (the second seen here) show a dark-colored Chrysler or Dodge vehicle, possibly a minivan, directly behind the school bus as Moore gets off on Nov. 2, 2012, at about 3:25 p.m. Police are hoping someone can identify the driver of that vehicle as a potential witness.
A video still from surveillance camera footage taken of Alicia Moore as she exits her school bus on Nov. 2, 2012. What happened to the teen after she was dropped off roughly one block from her home remains a mystery.
A missing-person flyer distributed about the teen, who has since been found murdered.
The body of 16-year-old Alicia Moore was discovered on Nov. 6, 2012, in a trunk along Highway 47 in Texas.
In the months before the November murder of Alicia Moore, a 49-year-old man was accused of sexually assaulting the Texas teen, according to Greenville police. Terry Dwayne Ramsire, of Greenville, Texas, was arrested on Aug. 23, 2012, for sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact. According to a city spokesperson, Ramsire has been incarcerated since the date of his arrest at the Hunt County Jail. He is being held on a $70,000 bond, the spokesperson said.
Tobias Whetstone, of Hunt County, Texas, has been taken into custody on an outstanding family violence warrant. According to NBC 5, Whetstone was questioned by police about Alicia Moore's disappearance prior to his arrest.
An undated family photo of Alicia Moore.
According to police, detectives are treating Alicia Moore's case as a homicide. The Texas teenager appeared to have suffered trauma wounds, although the exact cause of her death has not yet been determined, police said. Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Greenville Police Department at 903-457-2900.
Busken said officials at Greenville Independent School District reviewed campus surveillance camera footage that showed Moore safely exit the bus at 3:25 p.m. Friday, near her home at the corner of Bourland and Walnut streets. What happened to the teen after her drop-off -- roughly one block from her home -- remains a mystery.
"There's nothing that we can think of that could have happened," Byrd said. "She's not the type that would just take off and she would not walk up to anybody she did not know. She is very shy and quiet. Either someone threatened her to come with them or she was approached by someone she trusted. We just don't know."
Authorities said they interviewed Moore's friends and teachers. The school district's technology department also attempted to trace the location of Moore's school-issued iPad, however officials said the device had been reset and was untraceable.
Byrd said Moore's family is upset that police did not do more to locate the missing teenager. An Amber Alert was never issued and a police press release was not issued until Monday, Byrd said.
"[Police] didn't do enough," Byrd said. "They told us the situation did not qualify for an Amber Alert because there was no evidence of abduction. Then they waited till Monday to do something."
Cedric Fisher, a friend of Moore's family, expressed the same doubts in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.
"I feel like personally [the police] really dropped the ball," Fisher said.
Lori Philyaw, public information officer for the city of Greenville, Texas, told HuffPost Wednesday that authorities did not issue an Amber Alert for Moore because the case "did not fit the criteria."
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, a law enforcement agency in Texas must meet a number of specific criteria's to issue a state Amber Alert. That criterion includes determining whether abduction occurred and or if the child is in "immediate danger of sexual assault, death or serious bodily injury."
The Greenville Independent School District issued a notice to parents Thursday about a suspicious person who had approached a student. According to the notice, a student at Greenville Middle School reported being approached Wednesday and offered a ride by a man in a gray or silver Dodge four-door pickup truck.
"The student reported that the suspect had been waiting on Texas Street in front of the Middle School as though waiting to pick up a child, only he did not pick up a child," Superintendent Don Jeffries said. "Instead, the man drove his pickup truck toward the student in the parking lot. He lowered his window and asked if the student needed a ride and offered to take the student home. When the student refused, the man drove away west on Park."
The suspect is described as a Hispanic male with gray hair and a stubble of gray beard. He wore a gray Dallas Cowboys shirt and was described as speaking English, but not well. The truck was said to have rails on the top of the cargo box sides.
Authorities have not yet commented on the possibility of a link between Wednesday's report of a suspicious person and Moore's homicide.
Meanwhile, Byrd said that the last 6 days have been a living nightmare for her family.
"We just don't know why [this happened] or who could be responsible," she said. "This is a nightmare that we wish would just go away."
Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Greenville Police Department at 903-457-2900.