A 4-year-old girl who may have seen her mother being murdered is the driving force for detectives still trying to find the killer almost a year later.
To her family, every smile from 4-year-old Serenity Ross is a ray of sunshine, because they shudder to think of what she may have seen the night of her mother’s murder.
“We don't know what she saw, but she was there,” said Stephanie Sanders, Ross’ grandmother.
The killer strangled 26-year-old Elisa Johnson inside her Grand Prairie apartment the night of July 4, 2013.
Ross left their apartment two days later and was wandering around. When police were called about her, she led them to her mom's body.
"I think she was looking for help,” said Sanders. “She knew she was in there because, like she said, she tried to wake her up."
Johnson worked at a blood donation center, had just moved into the apartment and was saving to buy a car.
Police say she likely opened the door for her killer.
“There was no forced entry, unless somebody was able to overtake her or surprise her,” said Det. Alan Frizzell with the Grand Prairie Police Department. “Being a single mom, everybody I've talked to says she was very cautious, very careful.”
Frizzell says Johnson dialed 911 on her cell phone at exactly 10:38 p.m., but the call never connected.
Six people, including Johnson's boyfriend at the time and Ross’ father, have been ruled out as possible suspects.
Investigators have combed Johnson's background, her relationships, her friends and co-workers, and one year later, they are still stumped.
They’re hoping to regenerate interest in the now cold case.
"I think she was trying to do everything she could to take care of her daughter and herself,” said Frizzell. “I just can't help but think that somebody, you know, just ruined it for her.”
Police say whoever killed Johnson took time to clean up or alter the murder scene.
Police do have DNA evidence, but it’s such a small amount that they'd first need the suspect identified to try for a match.
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