Cause of death and court documents released in weekend murder - News, Weather & Sports


Text messages between victim and suspect detail night before body discovered

Tori Ann Pennington: Source MySpace Tori Ann Pennington: Source MySpace

Authorities believe the conversations between the victim and the man accused of murdering her started online at free dating web sites and they met face to face the night before her body was found.

Dustin Kendrick, 33, is behind bars in the Lubbock County Jail on a $250,000 bond and is charged with the murder of 32-year-old Tori Ann Pennington.

The Medical Examiner's Office determined Pennington was strangled inside her own home, and ruled her death a homicide. A trail of text messages detailed in an affidavit exchanged between Kendrick and Pennington paint a picture of what happened the night before her oldest son found her body.

"Ms. Pennington and Dustin Kendrick met online, and we believe right now this is the first time they had met," said Lt. Neal Barron with the Lubbock Police Department.

On Friday afternoon, the two spoke for 13 minutes and later that night they began texting. According to police affidavits investigators believed the two planned to meet. The two discussed plans for the night and in 23 minutes exchanged 20 text messages followed by a brief phone call. Pennington gave Kendrick her address and he responded telling her he would see her in about ten minutes.

Unconscious and unresponsive, police reports say Pennington appeared to have been strangled her. The same police affidavit details a statement Kendrick's mother gave police. She called to tell them about her son's possible involvement in a murder, after he allegedly confessed to her.

"Police detectives had information leading them to Kendrick before they knew about the information from his mother, but her information corroborated what detectives knew," added Lt. Barron.

The SWAT team arrested Kendrick 14 hours after Pennington's body was found at his mother's house. Police did not identify a motive for the crime. Jail records did not identify Kendrick's attorney. Once KCBD NewsChannel 11 gets in touch with his attorney we will bring you a comment if he or she chooses to make one.

Investigators say they have evidence Kendrick may have had car trouble at some point on Friday south of Lubbock. They believe someone may have helped push his maroon four door Lexus out of the mud. If you happened to help Kendrick, police have a couple of questions they would like to ask you to help with their investigation.

To read the entire affidavit, click here.

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