HOUSTON, TX — On November 4, 2015, Shelbey Thornburgh was brutally murdered in her high-rise apartment in Houston. Police believe that her killer may have been caught on camera — but after the murder, he vanished without a trace.
Shelbey had moved to the big city to pursue her dreams of becoming a model, and was living alone in the complex on Bellaire Boulevard. But according to Shelbey’s family, the 20-year-old was soon facing a much darker reality.
Shelbey’s sister Krystina Scott says that her sister suffered from depression, which caused her to gain weight.
Krystina told Crime Watch Daily that Shelbey’s boyfriend encouraged her to take a job as a high-end escort. The plan, according to Krystina, was to use the escorting money to get a tummy tuck in order to further her modeling career.
On the night of her murder, the time stamp on security video footage reveals the mystery man entered Shelbey’s building at 8:34 P.M. and left at 8:57 P.M.
Police believe that the man in the video may have been Shelbey’s client. They reportedly had evidence that he and Shelbey had exchanged messages in order to set up a date.
“She did let him in. He proceeded to assault her and cut her neck,” Houston Police Officer D. Crowder said. He also later stated that there was no evidence that Shelbey had been sexually assaulted. After the gruesome attack, Shelbey’s killer disappeared — and left no fingerprints behind.
Police found the body at around 10:00 P.M., and started their investigation immediately. They questioned Shelbey’s boyfriend, who had a criminal past, three times. However he continued to maintain his innocence.
A few months after the murder, police released the surveillance footage. The man, who can be seen getting off the elevator and walking through the apartment building’s lobby, was clearly not Shelbey’s boyfriend, and police appealed to the public for help identifying him. Police describe the man in the video as a white male wearing a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes. Police say that they believe that the suspect was wearing sunglasses to conceal his identity.
Investigators checked Shelbey’s phone records, but later said that the phone number was linked to a non-traceable Trac Phone.
Shelbey’s family and friends continue to search for answers, and to post updates on social media. Krystina has said, appealing for help finding the suspect, “I’m begging y’all, she was only 20 — didn’t deserve her life to be gone and cut at the throat.”
Crime Watch Daily quoted a police source as saying that the suspect was contacting other women similar who looked like Shelbey before the night of her murder — and that detectives had not ruled out the possibility that she may have been the victim of a serial killer.
Police have asked anyone with information about the case to call Houston Crime Stoppers anonymously at (713) 222-TIPS — there is a $5,000 reward.
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Main photo: Image from surveillance footage (left) and Shelbey Thornburgh (right) [Fox 26 (screenshot)]