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How did Torres die? Family, investigators still looking for clues

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 11, 1998

GARYVILLE – The mystery behind the hit-and-run death of Travis Torres still haunts his parents, Joseph “Pete” and Marilyn Torres. This weekend,Mother’s Day, makes it worse for Marilyn.

Travis, 25, died as a result of being struck by a vehicle on Airline Highway between Marathon Oil and Louisiana Highway 54 near Garyville in the early morning hours of May 12, 1997.

Initial reports were that a 2-week-old black puppy escaped from an open window of the car into eastbound traffic, and Travis jumped out and tried to catch the dog but was struck by a passing vehicle, described as a small white car with a spoiler.

Also in the car were Jill Sutton and Tara Reno. According to the report,the car’s hazard lights were not working, so they were trying to get the car turned around to face oncoming traffic when a second vehicle came along and also struck Torres.

A witness located months later and interviewed by Louisiana State Trooper Chris Maurin told a slightly different story. This witness said hecame along, drove between the body in the roadway and the car parked on the shoulder, and came to a stop.

He got out and saw the two women sitting in the car with no lights on. Onegot out of the car and said they couldn’t get the hazard lights to work and that the dog was dead. While they were talking, the second car came alongand struck Torres.

Pete Torres also asserted they were told four days earlier by a phone caller that soon “they were going to have a dead son.””It’s unreal, all the different stories,” Torres said.

At the same time, crosses with flowers erected at the death scene have been stolen three times so far.

Torres checked with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, which cuts the grass, as well as the parish public works department.

They were told only to mow around it, and it wouldn’t be disturbed by grass-cutting crews. Nevertheless, it’s now the fourth cross erected bythe Torres family.

“They keep stealing them,” Torres said. “It’s unreal. I can’t believe peoplecan do this.”Meanwhile, the investigation is still open, and anyone with information is urged to phone Det. Sgt. Todd Hymel of the St. John Sheriff’s Office at652-2773 or 652-2777. The suspect car will have damage to theundercarriage and possibly the lower front air dam.

The Torres family is offering a $5,000 reward in this case.

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