Over the Edge

Paul loved Lorena. But a year ago this month, he drove her to an overpass on the George Bush Turnpike and threw her to her death. Then he dove after her.

The witnesses didn’t know at first what was happening on the overpass of the George Bush Turnpike. They saw that a couple had parked their white two-door Mercedes SLK230 Kompressor on the shoulder, a few feet from the barrier overlooking the southbound lanes of Central Expressway, 85 feet below. He was wearing tan shorts and a blue short-sleeved shirt. She had on a white floral-print dress. Witnesses thought they were clowning around. Or maybe the woman was sick.

But it soon became clear that they were fighting, and motorists pulled over to help. The man wrapped his arms around the woman’s body, but she wriggled free and fell to the concrete. He grabbed her hands and slipped an arm around her waist. She was thrashing and crying out for help, but it was no use. He had her now. She couldn’t get away.

Without a word, he lifted her up and threw her over the edge.

The man watched as she fell into the rush-hour traffic below, crashing onto the hood of a white Ford Crown Victoria. Horrified, the witnesses closed in on him. But before they could reach him, he silently stepped up on the barrier and dove after her.

“I have a wonderful, loving, true female companion with no alterior [sic] motives, who just wants simplicity and happiness in life. … I really, really value my time with her. Things are so great when we’re getting along.”

—an excerpt from Paul Stephens’
red Mead notebook, which
investigators found in his apartment

Lorena Osorio was 17 years old when she fell in love with the man who would kill her. She told her family they had met at Boston Market, where she worked after school and on weekends. That was a lie. It was 1999, and she and a girlfriend had sneaked into Area 51, a dance club in the West End that filled the space of the old Starck Club. She and her friend both flashed fake IDs. The bouncer never looked twice.

She saw him through the crowd, and she lit up with the instant attraction that seduces all teenage girls. He had short, neatly trimmed dark hair, and his muddy-brown skin came from spending hours in the sun. His biceps pressed against his sleeves. Lorena liked that. She watched him, and when he happened to look at her, her eyes darted away. But she knew she’d caught his attention. Lorena loved nothing more than attention.

SCENES FROM A LIFE: Lorena (above) dreamed of becoming a pediatrician; Paul (below left) hoped to make it in the Arena Football League. 

He asked his buddy if he saw the girl standing near the bar. She was petite, almost fragile, and she had piercing brown eyes and thick hair that fell below her shoulders. Unlike many of the girls at the club who showed a lot of skin, she wore a simple dress that came to her knees. He thought she looked classy. He was hooked in a glance.

“I can’t stand it that you’ve been waiting so long,” he said after he made his way over. “When is your boyfriend coming back?”

He offered a quick smile and leaned in. He gazed directly into her eyes. Lorena giggled and looked at the floor.

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” she said with a Hispanic accent.

“No boyfriend? No boyfriend? Oh, that can’t be possible.”

Lorena paused, lost for a moment in his charm. Then she said the first thing that popped into her head. “I’m Lorena.”

“Hi, Lorena,” he said, reaching out to shake her hand. “I’m Paul Stephens.”

They danced together for the rest of the night. Lorena talked just enough to calm her nerves. She learned that he was an SMU grad. Degree in computer science. Good money. Great prospects. When the lights came up, they hung back in the corner. They swapped numbers and agreed to meet at the club the next Saturday. They did. Then they met the Saturday after that, and before long they were seeing each other during the week.

Paul was nine years older than Lorena, but she didn’t think that mattered if they truly loved each other. He told his friends that she was older than she was; she told her friends that he was younger. And there had to be some reason they shared the same birthday, September 29. Lorena decided it could mean only one thing. This was meant to be. This was fate.

Paul and Lorena had both come to Dallas hoping for better things, but they lived in vastly different worlds. She grew up poor in a small town outside of San Pedro Sula, in the northern region of Honduras. Her mother Conchita came here in 1990 to work for other people: cleaning, running errands, providing in-home care. She saved her money and sent home what she could. Eventually she could afford to bring her four daughters into the country. Lorena was the youngest, not quite a teenager. She cried when her father Luis told her that he would stay behind. Lorena adored him. He was a weathered, quiet man who taught her how a gentleman should act. When she told her friends about him, she spoke of how hard he worked. She described him riding his bike through their town, going to pick bananas.

Lorena was awed by the towering buildings of downtown Dallas, and she soaked up her new home with childlike amazement. The couple her mother worked for, Anna and Ron Corcoran, took her in. Though Lorena was a year behind in school, trying to learn English, they knew she was smart. She loved kids and talked of being a pediatrician. But they also noticed that she was a little too trusting, a bit too naïve. Still, they appreciated her bubbly, almost goofy, sense of humor, given that her family had so little. Lorena relished the trips that the Corcorans would sometimes take her on, like a weekend at Lake Buchanan, outside of Austin. “She is such a joy,” Anna once told Ron as Lorena splashed in the water. “I’ve never seen a teenage girl who didn’t know how to be mopey.”

Lorena enrolled at Woodrow Wilson High School, the old East Dallas school famous for having produced two Heisman trophy winners, Davey O’Brien and Tim Brown. Lorena worried about fitting in at such a large school, but she made friends fast. She was the kind of girl who inspired more crushes than she would ever know. Though she was small—her family nicknamed her Olive Oyl—she was also competitive. She developed a talent for volleyball, and during gym class she did everything she could to get her team to win. She would hold huddles between serves, telling her fellow students—many of whom couldn’t have cared less—where to stand and what to do. More than anything, though, Lorena loved to dance. She was hypnotized by flashy clubs and crowded house parties, and she learned to salsa and meringue.

And during her junior year, she began to show off gifts from her older boyfriend: jewelry, clothes, flowers. Then one day she showed up in Woodrow’s parking lot driving a BMW.

“My boyfriend Paul bought it for me,” she said proudly. “He knows how to treat his girl.”

Paul had been a star high school tennis player in West Palm Beach, Florida. His father Wayne demanded that he push himself and taught him how to win. The result was a partial scholarship to SMU in 1992, and Paul showed up on campus driving an old BMW. He liked the flash of Dallas, the allure of making money. He promised himself that he would succeed here, and he studied computer science to ensure that he’d have a good job after he graduated.

Trouble on the tennis team didn’t faze him. The coach who had recruited him soon left, and his replacement, Carl Neufeld, tried to teach discipline to a group of players who were overweight or drank too much or showed up when it suited them. Neufeld had heard that Paul had a temper, that back in Florida he and his dad had been suspended for going ballistic at a match. But he never saw it. Paul was early to practice. He never talked back. He kept his focus. The team hit the weight room three times a week, and Paul lifted like he played guard on the offensive line. Despite his intensity, he had a hard time staying above 160 pounds. And because he stood an inch under 6 feet, opponents tried to take advantage of him at the net by lobbing the ball over his head. What Paul lacked in size, though, he made up for with speed. He flew across the court.

He progressed each year, and by the time he was a senior, he was playing No. 1 doubles. But Paul set such high standards for himself that he had a hard time feeling satisfied. His serve never caught up to the rest of his game. He would stay after practice and hit buckets of balls until his shoulder ached. But it always held him back. And if he double-faulted or hit a weak second serve, he would sometimes yell at himself or throw his racket into the fence.

Off the court, Paul made friends quickly, and he became known as a prankster who loved to be the center of attention. One time, he persuaded some of his friends to crash another buddy’s class on a Friday morning. Just as the professor began the lecture, Paul and his friend Derek Williams showed up in the doorway wearing slacks, white shirts, and ties.

“Excuse me, sir,” Paul said with a poker face. “We’re with the Dallas Student Health Commission, and we are here to do a routine inspection.”

The puzzled look on the professor’s face gave Paul the opening he needed. He measured the professor’s desk, inspected the floors, and checked for dust. Just as the professor’s patience began to wear thin—and as the light laughter in the room grew to a roar—a third friend, Chris Allison, appeared.
“You two are in the wrong room!” he snapped in mock disgust. “You’re supposed to be checking Room 118, not 119.”

Paul and Derek stopped, bowed, and sprinted from the class.

*

“I’ve changed a lot since I met her. I may have made mistakes before we met, and during the first 1-2 years of our relationship, but some of those mistakes I don’t make anymore. So she has driven change in me much more than anyone else ever has.”

  —from Paul’s notebook

Paul was a constant blur on the SMU campus. After tennis practice, he often went to the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports to play basketball. His size didn’t stop him from playing tough on the inside, and his legs were so powerful he could dunk. When he wasn’t on campus, he and his friends hit all the clubs: Detour, Club A, Eden 2000, Iguana Mirage. Paul never hesitated to talk to a girl, and his friends would watch in awe as he would come up with corny lines just to see if they worked.

It wasn’t long before he met Lauren*. They hit it off and started spending all of their time together. But Paul acted differently around girls, a fact he kept hidden from his friends. He didn’t understand it himself. He didn’t know where the rage came from. But he could feel it bubbling inside him.

He thought about Lauren when they weren’t together. He wondered what she was doing. He couldn’t stop checking up on her. And he began to wonder why she wanted to spend so much time with her sorority sisters if she was in love with him.

“You don’t need to buy your friends,” Paul told her. “You’ve got me.”

One night when they were in her dorm room, Paul snapped. He had the sense that he was an observer in the room, watching himself do it. He told Lauren that she was getting fat, that she was a slob. He began taunting her as she looked at him wide-eyed and afraid. Finally he forced her to crawl under her bed.

“Don’t come out until you learn not to eat,” he said. “I am not dating a fat girl.”

When Paul eventually stormed out, Lauren remained sprawled on the floor, hysterical.

Then Paul returned, though, and in his most loving voice, he begged her to open the door. She wouldn’t. He pleaded with her and asked for a second chance. Stunned, she let him in.

And it started all over again. She threatened to call the police.

“Oh, no you won’t!” he yelled. Paul yanked the phone out of the wall. “Try it now, bitch! Try it now!”

She grabbed a steak knife and told him to get out. She was yelling and crying, and Paul was circling her like a wrestler in the ring. But a neighbor heard the fight and called the cops.

“I deserve better than you!” he yelled as he left. “I deserve better.”

As he dated his way through a string of other girls, he continually lost control. He could feel the rage clinching his throat, pulsing through his chest. And he didn’t know how to make it stop.

Years later, he fell in love with a girl named Angela*. They talked about marriage and a future together. But his uncontrollable anger ruined it.

“I just want us to spend as much time together as possible,” he said one night as they were drinking at a bar. “I love you so much, and you always push me away.”

“Paul, we’ve been through this. You can’t be so controlling,” she said.

Angela suggested they leave; she knew what could happen if Paul made a scene. He was quiet, sulking. She tried to change the subject. He didn’t like her tone. So he grabbed her by her hair, forced her into his car, and sped off on Greenville Avenue.

“Let me out!” she yelled.

He never looked at her. It was as if he had fallen into a trance.

“Let me out, let me out, let me out.” She was sobbing, and she pressed her face against the window, hoping someone would see her.

Paul drove to White Rock Lake, jumped out of the car, and ran to the passenger’s side. He wasn’t looking at her. He was looking off into the distance, toward the water.

“Please let me go, Paul. Don’t do this.”

She was whimpering now. He had control of her. She would say or do anything to please him.

He carried her into the water, and he held her from behind as he cupped his hand over her mouth. She was thrashing, but the sounds seemed to go nowhere.

“Do you know what?” he said into her ear. “Do you know what I could do? If I had some bricks, I could tie you down and drown you right here.”

Her eyes widened, and she kicked as hard as she could. But she was no match for him.

“I could drown you right here, and no one would know. The bricks would keep you at the bottom for days.”

Time stood still, and the surge passed over him. He felt calm once again.

“You’re not worth it,” he said finally. “The police would probably catch me, and it would be a shame to have to spend time in jail for killing you.” He pushed her away and moved heavily through the dark water toward the car.

Angela stayed away from Paul after that, but she didn’t leave him. He talked his way back into her life; he showered her with gifts. But the anger ran in cycles. She finally got a restraining order against him after Paul beat her up a few months later. She sobbed as she told her father. As he held her, he asked why she didn’t leave him long ago.

“Paul could be so charming, so sweet when he was in a good mood,” she said. “I really thought I loved him.”

It wasn’t long before a new girl came into his life. Her name was Lorena.

*

“She doesn’t want to be unhappy. She really loves me and she knows I love her, but she’s not willing to be miserable to be with me. Maybe I’m willing to be miserable to be with her, but she’s not willing to be miserable to be with me.”

  —from Paul’s notebook

Paul didn’t waste time putting his degree to use after he graduated in 1996. He landed a job as an Oracle database administrator with James Martin and Co. He flew out to Virginia for training, and that’s where he met Adam Levine, who would become one of his best friends. Adam and Paul both loved sports and argued about whose football team was better. Adam liked the New York Jets; Paul worshiped John Elway and the Denver Broncos.

Paul impressed his supervisors with his work ethic and talent, and he left training early to work on a project. Times were good. He moved into an apartment on Cole Avenue, just north of Knox Street, near the booming Uptown area. The tech bubble was still expanding, and Paul pulled in more than $100,000. Later, he switched to contract work for various clients, which could earn him almost $200,000 a year. He worked at a furious pace, dedicating himself to projects on nights and weekends. When he finished, he could take off long periods of time, traveling, working out, hitting the clubs.

On nights out, when they returned from the bars at 4 a.m., Paul and Adam would make prank calls.

“Hey, yeah, we were in your restaurant,” Paul would say after he picked an IHOP at random.

“Okay, how can I help you?”

“We got so sick. I mean, we were throwing up all over the place.

“Oh, sir, I’m—”

“What kind of restaurant are you guys running? Are you trying to make people sick?”

“No, sir. No, sir. Can I please—”

“Do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to get my lawyer, and I’m going to sue your ass. That’s right, I’m going to sue you and take over your restaurant. How would you like that? And I’m going to fire all of you.”

Paul and Adam would collapse in laughter. For good measure, they’d record the calls, convert them to MP3s, and store them on a computer.

Then came Lorena. Two years after graduation, he met her that night at Area 51. And the more serious he and Lorena became, the less Paul went out with his friends. The couple kept to themselves, often staying in or eating at Chuy’s or Red Lobster. Lorena tried to stay close with her friends from Woodrow, and she organized girls’ night out to watch a movie or grab a bite to eat. But before long her phone would ring. Her friends would giggle and tease her about her older man.

“Hi, honey,” she would say. Then she would listen.

“No, we won’t be out late. We’re just going to hang out for a while. I’ll call you when we’re done.” Then Lorena would listen some more. “I love you, too.”

It wouldn’t be long before her phone would ring again. Sometimes Paul would show up. After a while, Lorena didn’t bother to organize girls’ night out anymore.

Lorena worked hard to pay her own way. She took a job behind the cosmetics counter at the Walgreens at Mockingbird and Matilda. It was the perfect fit for her. She was eager to help her customers, and she always loved makeup and nail polish. Paul would tease her, calling her a “girly girl.” She liked the job so much that she helped one of her best friends from Woodrow, Alex Nico, get a job there as well.

For the most part, Paul lived a modest lifestyle, but he had a weakness for flashy cars. He bought a new black BMW M3 for himself and the white Mercedes SLK230 Kompressor for Lorena. He always lived with a roommate, and he didn’t fuss with furniture. He was most proud of his artwork, which had been painted by his family. His parents had created a number of abstract pieces that he hung on the walls, and he found a special place for a painting his brother did of Eric Clapton.

Lorena learned about Paul’s dark side. He had learned from his previous girlfriends where to hit her so that the marks didn’t show: on top of the head or on the back. One evening he waited for her to come home from shopping. She hadn’t told him where she was going, and when she came back with bags in tow, he slapped her in the face over and over again.

“Don’t do that again!” he screamed. “Don’t go off and not tell me what you’re doing or who you’re doing it with.”

Lorena panicked and called the police after Paul left the room. She pressed charges for assault, but Paul begged her to take him back. She couldn’t resist him when he acted so helpless.

In fact, in 2001, she moved into the apartment on Cole, which Paul shared with another friend after Adam moved out. She took a job as a hostess at La Duni, just across the street, and later worked at Potbelly Sandwich Works, which was only a few blocks away.

Paul continued to lift weights religiously. He tried Creatine for a time to bulk up, but his body resisted. He caught a break when an assistant coach for the semi-pro Dallas Diesel spotted him playing a game of flag football. He was impressed with Paul’s quickness. He passed his name on to the head coach. Paul beamed. “If I work hard enough,” he told Lorena, “maybe I could play in the Arena League.”

The Diesel practiced at Griggs Park, near Hall Street and Central Expressway, on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 8 to 10. Paul was undersized, but he never missed a practice. He figured he could become a starting wide receiver, but he mostly sat on the bench. He traveled to all of the games, to places like Missouri and Tennessee. So did Lorena.

Coach Jewell Portwood—his players called him Coach “Wood”—preferred that his players leave their wives and girlfriends behind, but Lorena stayed out of the way. Paul thought of that line from Rocky in which the boxing trainer Mickey, played by Burgess Meredith, shouted at the Italian Stallion, “Women weaken legs!”

But that didn’t scare off Lorena. She videotaped him in practice and in games. Some nights, when she woke and Paul wasn’t in bed, she would find him studying the film.

As part of the team’s community service, the players would visit hospitals and schools. During a visit to a nursing home in Carrollton, Lorena went with Paul. One resident said to the young couple, “Oh, you’ll have such handsome kids.” Paul and Lorena smiled as he slipped his arm around her waist.

Paul had been talking about marriage and kids, but Lorena was starting to feel trapped. She wanted something of her own, something that she didn’t owe to Paul. A baby would only set things on an unalterable course. They had begun to fight nearly every day, though in front of his friends, Paul had been careful not to cross the line. Lorena had moved out once, for a few days, then a second time, for several weeks.

But for more reasons than she could count, they always got back together. Early in 2004, her hands shook as she took a pregnancy test. The blue line showed that it was positive. Lorena made up her mind what to do, and she told Paul what she was feeling. That May they went to a clinic together, and Lorena had an abortion.

Paul began having trouble sleeping. He worried about Lorena, his life, and his job. He had plenty of money in the bank—nearly $100,000—but contracts were getting harder to find. He had a compulsion to write down his feelings, something he had never done before. He took out a red Mead notebook. Maybe, he thought, if he could write about it, he could understand what was happening to him. He had looked up the number for an anger management class, but he couldn’t bring himself to dial it. So he started writing. He thought it made him feel better, but he couldn’t be sure. He wasn’t sure of anything anymore.

“Time and again I’ve told her things will be different, I’ll change but I don’t fully live up to my promises,” he wrote in black ink. “And then I go through this depression/fear/sadness/hurt/ pain/anger/etc. When will she be back to take away this pain? What have I got to do to stop driving her away? Am I really an unhappy person? In general? YES.”

In early June 2004, Lorena stopped by her old Walgreens to visit Alex and her friends. She caught them up on what they had been doing. They had visited Paul’s parents in Florida, and she had started a new job at Potbelly. Someone there had teased her about driving a Mercedes to work. Everyone laughed.

But Alex could tell that she was distracted. She wasn’t her usual self. He couldn’t put his finger on it. When they were alone, he found out.

“I’ve decided to leave Paul,” she said.

Alex studied her face. He wondered if she was serious.

“I’ve got the strength to leave this time, and I’ve started looking at apartments. My mother and sister told me they would help out.” Lorena paused. “But maybe I can move out and we can still be together, you know?”

Alex nodded. He loved Lorena, he had seen the bruises on her arms, and he wanted her to be, above all else, happy.

“I want to prove that I can do it on my own,” she said. “I want to make my own life. Do you know what I want? I’d love to have a job in an office building.
I’d love to have my own cubicle that would be mine and no one else’s.”

As Lorena left the store, Alex worried about her. He remembered something she had said once, something that Paul had told her during a fight. “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

*

“I am an asshole. I deserve this. It hurts a lot, but I deserve it. Sometimes it feels like the only thing that keeps me going is the hope that things will be better sometime later on. That is how I feel when she leaves. This is the worst feeling. If this is life, I don’t want it—this is worse than not living.” 

  —from Paul’s notebook

On Monday, June 7, 2004, Paul and Lorena went to Adam’s apartment for a cookout. They were laughing and carrying on. Adam always figured that Paul and Lorena would be together. They’d be the couple who would solve their problems and get married and raise a family.

Two nights later, Lorena clocked out at Potbelly at 8:37 p.m. after working a five-hour shift. She went straight back to the apartment, and Paul was with his old friend Mike Tran, who had been with Paul when he had met Lorena. They were playing on the computer. She knew that Paul had a pirated DVD of The Passion of the Christ, and she figured that he and Mike would stay up late watching it. She went to bed. Mike decided to spend the night, and when he left the next morning at around 9, he noticed nothing out of the ordinary. They made plans to get together again. Paul and Lorena seemed fine.

For the next several hours that day, no one saw Paul and Lorena, and no one knows what happened inside the apartment. But at 4:35 that afternoon, Paul burst into the parking lot carrying Lorena. An SMU student heard their voices across the rows of cars. It sounded like they were playing, she thought, and when she saw them down the aisle, they reminded her of a groom carrying his bride across the threshold.

Then Lorena fell to the ground, and she nearly tumbled as she ran in a wild panic toward the Mercedes. The student froze. She didn’t know what to do.
Lorena jumped into the car and locked the doors. Paul calmly stepped toward the vehicle and placed his hands on the trunk. He looked over his shoulder and stared at the girl in the parking lot. Their eyes met, and without expression, he turned back toward the car.

Lorena had started the engine and was trying to back the car out of the spot, but Paul was pushing against the trunk.

“Don’t do this, Lorena!” he barked. “You’re not going anywhere.”

He saw a rock lying near the car, and in a flash he grabbed it and flew toward the driver’s door. He smashed the window with the rock. Glass flew into the car, and Lorena screamed and covered her face.

Paul deftly pinned her against the seat with one hand and unlocked the door with the other. As he got in, he pushed Lorena over toward the passenger’s seat, hit the gas, and sped out of the parking lot. Her head was down in the passenger seat, and as she struggled, her legs stuck out the broken window. He turned left on Cole, then left on Knox. He was headed for Central Expressway.

Lorena was sobbing as she pulled herself into the passenger’s seat. Paul gripped the wheel as if the car would drive out from under him, and he looked straight ahead. She placed her cell phone on the seat beside her right thigh, trying to keep it out of Paul’s view. Lorena cried louder to cover up the tones: 9-1-1. But Paul noticed and went for the phone.

When the operator from the Highland Park Police Department took the call at 4:44 p.m., he heard only screaming. Then the line went dead. He called the number back, but the phone went straight to voicemail.

The miles ticked past. North past Mockingbird. Past the High Five and LBJ. Lorena tried to calm herself, though her hands covered her face as she leaned forward. He passed Campbell Road, where Central curves just slightly to the left, and the George Bush Turnpike came into view.

Paul took the exit for George Bush westbound. He then took the Custer Parkway exit, followed the service road to the U-turn beneath the underpass, and got back on the Turnpike, heading eastbound. Lorena now saw the exit for southbound Central Expressway. Paul was turning around, she thought. They would go back home. They would pick up the pieces and move on.

But Paul didn’t exit. He stayed in the right lane and drove eastbound. Lorena looked to her right as they rose above the Telecom Corridor, tall buildings sprouting too far north of downtown to seem real.

She looked forward when she heard the thump, thump, thump of the car speeding over yellow traffic bumps in the right shoulder. Paul parked three feet from the barrier, directly above the southbound lanes of Central. He shut off the engine and bolted out of his seat. Lorena watched him run around the front of the car.

Lorena noticed that Paul had left the keys in the ignition. She reached for them, but he had already opened her door. He yanked at her shoulder, and the keys fell on the floorboard. She struggled, tried to flop down in her seat, but she was no match.

He squeezed her arm. She cried out, and then he flung her toward the raised barrier that came just above her hips. That’s when it must have dawned on her. As he grabbed her hands and slipped an arm around her waist, the terror must have been absolute and she must have realized: he had her now.

The Dallas Diesel football team began practice a few hours later. Coach Wood noticed Paul wasn’t there, which had never happened before. He ran the players through their drills to get them ready for Saturday’s game in Little Rock, where the Diesel were playing in a benefit for a local battered women’s shelter. A trainer ran onto the field and asked Wood if he’d seen the television news. The local channels were reporting that a Paul Stephens had killed a woman and then himself.

Wood stood awhile in silence. Then he said, “It’s just not possible. It just can’t be our Paul.”

The next morning, a co-worker dashed into Walgreens. Alex was working the front counter. “Have you seen the news? Have you seen the news?” she asked, breathless. A crowd gathered as she explained that a reporter had named Paul and described the Mercedes. But the station didn’t mention Lorena. Maybe it was someone else.

They all looked at Alex. “Quick. Call her cell phone,” they said.

Alex’s hands shook as he dialed the number. “Please answer, please answer, please answer,” he said to himself. But he got voicemail. Another employee called Lorena’s sister, and when she answered, he asked for Lorena.

The response was a wailing cry. “There’s been a terrible, ter

Photos: Lorena: Courtesy of Osorio Family; Paul: Courtesy of SMU

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