On March 5, 1993, 12-year-old Rick Ennis was walking at night along a dark highway in Alabama, not far from Montgomery. He had just crashed his family’s car on the side of the road, at the fence, and was on his feet heading home.
That’s when John Clark, then a soldier in Alabama, met Ennis, who unknowingly murdered his parents.
Rick Ennis spoke exclusively with “48 Hours” reporter Peter Van Sant about the murder of his parents, and about the disappearance of his friend Laurie Slisinski years later on “A Man with a Past” which airs Saturday at 10/9c on CBS and live. on Paramount+.
Van Sant also interviewed Clark, who said he would never forget the night he responded to the accident, and saw Ennis in the headlights of his police-branded car.
“As my headlights take a turn, I see it looks like a little boy carrying a backpack,” Clark recalls.
Clark said Ennis admitted he was driving the wrecked car, and allowed Clark to search his bag.
“The first thing I take out is a kitchen knife,” Clark said. “There is some 12 gauge loose ammo and some 22 gauge ammo in the bottom of the bag.”
He remembers putting young Ennis in the back seat of his patrol car, initially believing that Ennis would be in trouble with his parents to take the car for a spin.
But when Clark began to ask Ennis questions, he told Ennis, a now retired state soldier, something unimaginable.
I said: Where are your parents? Clarke recalls, “He looked at me again, and said, ‘I killed them both…No tears, no affection, nothing.'”
Clark says the admission led to a series of activities that ended with local police in Montgomery entering Innes’ home, where they discovered the bodies of his mother, Dolly, and stepfather, Eddie Jo Flowers. The couple met in church and were married for only 10 months.
According to the authorities, Ines admitted that he first shot his mother, and then beat her to death. He said he then shot and killed his stepfather with a rifle blast in the face when he got home from work. At the time, Ennis told investigators that he killed his parents because he was angry that they planned to move in. Investigators also said he lived with their bodies for two days while he went to school. During a home search, police also found what they described as a “to-do” list that included the murders of his three sisters.
Under Alabama law, Ennis spent nine years in a juvenile prison, until he was released after turning 21. He eventually moved to Auburn, where he worked at a bowling alley, and became friends.
But on Saturday, June 10, 2006, Slesinsky disappeared without a trace, and everything changed.
According to Slesinski’s best friend, Lindsey Brown, that night she and Laurie planned a girls’ night out at Brown’s house. The two young women first met during their junior year at Auburn University. After graduating in 2004, they became even closer when they began working together at a local mental health facility.
“We were going to have drinks at my house,” Brown explained to Van Sant. “We’ve had room runners, I think, and watch a movie and spend time with the girls.”
“She called me around 6:30 and said, ‘I’ll stop at the store, pick up the mixed drinks, and then I’ll head over to your house,'” Brown continued. “Then the phone rang about 30 minutes later. It rang once or twice. I answered, there was no one there.”
“How many times… did she simply not come and not call you?” Van Sant asked.
“Never,” Brown replied.
Brown said she went to bed that night, hoping that Slesinski would decide to visit another friend who had just given birth, or that something else had turned up.
The next day, she still couldn’t reach Laurie.
“I called her house a few times … I left voicemail messages on the answering machine in her house,” Brown said.
Brown says she knew Ennis was with Silesinsky on Saturday, because she heard him in the background when she and Laurie last spoke.
“They were friends, so I wasn’t worried,” Brown explained to Van Sant.
But when Silesinsky failed to show up for work after the weekend, Brown became concerned, and texted Laurie’s friend, Ennis.
Lindsey said Ennis texted her that he assumed she would be fine.
On Tuesday, after Slesinski was not at work for a second day, Brown and his co-workers headed to Laurie’s motorhome to look for her.
When I got there, I knew right away that something was “terribly wrong”.
“The door was open, which it wasn’t like…the air conditioner was on. Her dog, Peanut, was in the crate,” Brown explained.
Silesinsky was not there. And there was another weird thing: When I let Peanuts come out of his cage, Brown said he looked happy and well fed. And his chest was spotless, as if someone had taken care of him, though Laurie had been gone for about three days.
“what are you thinking about?” asked Van St. Brown.
“Something is terribly wrong…there is no way to leave the peanuts.”
Meanwhile, Slesinski’s mother, Arlene, who was a nurse in a nursing home, received a call from one of Lowry’s co-workers.
“I think it was her boss,” said Arlene Slessinsky, “and she told me ‘I just want to tell you, your daughter, Laurie, didn’t show up for work’ and immediately the bells and whistles went off.”
She said she immediately drove to Auburn, called her husband, Casey, and the Auburn police as she made an excruciating drive into the motorhome that she and her husband had bought their daughter when she decided to attend Auburn University.
Police initially treated Slesinski’s disappearance as a missing persons case. Lee County District Attorney Jessica Ventier explained that in Auburn, a major college football city, youngsters may “explode” and “disappear for a while, but they come back.”
But not Laurie.
Four days after her disappearance, Slesinski’s car suddenly explodes in a fireball on a deserted cul-de-sac outside a construction site, not far from her home, in a manicured trailer park popular with students. Police said Laurie was not in the burning car.
“There was no trace of it at all,” Ventier added. “I mean, nothing.”
Laurie’s mother, Arlene, was very scared.
“The feelings were unbelievable, of fear, and knowing that something really bad had happened,” Arlene said.
The police spoke to Ennis because he was not only friends with Laurie, but he was also at her home the day Laurie disappeared. Ennis tells them that Laurie is fine when he leaves her. But when the police re-interviewed him, they noticed he had scratches on his arms and hands, and that he had made inconsistent statements.
Then they learn about Ennis’s disturbing past: that he had killed his mother and stepfather.
Ironically, Arlene said Ennis spent Christmas 2005 at his family’s home. She said that Laurie invited him because she felt sorry for him. She said he has no family. Arlene said she didn’t know why.
Despite Ennis’ traumatic past, and circumstantial evidence pointing to him, authorities at the time believed that without any direct evidence linking him to Laurie’s disappearance – and without her body being found – they could not arrest them.
Ennis quickly walked away, and Laurie’s case quickly turned cold. But a decade later, in 2016, Alabama’s law enforcement created a cold case unit, led by Mark Whitaker, a special agent with the Alabama State Bureau of Investigation. He chose the Lowry case as their first investigation. His team, which included Whitaker’s longtime partner, JW Barnes, began filling out files, re-interviewing witnesses and sending various evidence to a forensic lab for testing.
In the end they found crucial evidence that was overlooked, and after an 18-month investigation, they finally had enough to present to a grand jury, including the hand-rolled cigarettes that police said were found near the burning lorry’s car in 2006. DNA on it . So is the blood on the inside of the front door of Lorry’s trailer, and the semen on her bed sheet.
In August 2018, a task force of law officers arrested Ennis in rural Virginia, where he lived and worked with a school librarian. He was accused of killing Laurie Slisinski.
For Whitaker, breaking the news to Laurie’s mother was the highlight of his career, but it wasn’t an easy call.
Tragically, Laurie’s disappearance wasn’t Arlene’s only loss. Soon after Ennis was arrested, her 41-year-old son Paul died of a stroke and cancer. In 2020, her husband, Casey, contracted the COVID-19 virus and died of the disease.
In March 2022, Enes was finally tried for the murder of Slesinsky.
Prosecutors knew they were not allowed to raise his previous conviction of killing his parents. But in an exclusive interview with Van Sant, 42-year-old Ines spoke about it. He said in 1993 that he stuck to the argument that he didn’t want to move, and that the real reason he killed his parents was because he was abused by his mother. 48 hours have found no evidence to support Ennis’ allegations.
Ines also told Van Sant that he had nothing to do with Laurie’s disappearance.
“I’ve never killed Laurie Slesinski,” Enes told Van Sant. “She was a very dear and close friend of mine. I would never have hurt her.”
At his trial, Ennis took his stand in his own defense. His fiancée, Alana Atkinson, watched as he maintained his innocence. His defense also noted that the police had planted evidence to misrepresent him.
Two weeks later, the jury had to decide whether Ennis had been murdered again.