Missing Dallas teen found dead; DNA evidence leads to arrest
11/03/2015 3:51 pm PST
It started as a search for a missing Dallas girl. Zoe Hastings, 18, was on her way to church. She stopped to drop off a movie at the store -- and then vanished.
Hastings, a recent high school graduate, dreamed of doing missionary work and of one day becoming a surgeon. A doting big sister, she was the oldest of five kids.
Zoe Hastings was found brutally murdered on October 12, 2015. Her body was found in the family's white minivan crashed at the bottom of a creek less than a mile from her home.
Hastings was last seen returning a movie at a Redbox at Walgreens. Hastings' family says she planned to go to church that evening just a few minutes from the Walgreens, but the teen never made it.
What happened during that seven-minute drive remains a mystery. Hundreds of tips poured into the Homicide Division at the Dallas Police Department.
"We've been given information by a witness who describes seeing a black male, approximately 5' 10", 175 pounds, with a bushy afro-styled hairdo speaking to a blond woman in a white minivan at the Walgreens around the time immediately prior to when we believe Ms. Hastings disappeared," said Dallas Police Major Max Geron.
Detectives say a witness describes seeing the man get into the driver's seat of the minivan with Hastings. Who was this man? And why would he be getting behind the wheel of her car?
Police say there is evidence that Hastings' car was involved in an accident around the time she was reported missing.
Zoe Hastings' family, in excruciating pain over her loss, flood the neighborhood, handing out flyers, hoping for information that could lead to catching the killer.
Then, two weeks after Hastings' body was found: a break in the case. Dallas Police arrest 34-year-old Antonio Lamar Cochran, charging him with capital murder. Investigators say DNA at the crime scene matches Cochran's, who was already in a DNA database.
Cops say Cochran didn't know Zoe Hastings. Court records show Cochran has a long rap sheet dating back to 1998. He's previously faced charges for theft, sexual assault and burglary.
Bail for Cochran was set at $2.5 million.
Hastings' family is relieved, knowing they can find some degree of peace now that a suspect is behind bars.