Big reward for help solving teen's 1994 murder
SAN ANTONIO - The Texas Rangers are hoping a big reward can generate some warm leads in a murder case that's gone cold.
It's been 24 years since the body of Samantha Zublionis was found in rural northeastern Frio County. The San Antonio high school student was only 17 years old.
Jo Anna Zublionis, Samantha’s older sister, still gets emotional visiting her grave.
"You become numb because she was there and then she wasn't," says Jo Anna. "And you don't have any answers to what happened."
Due to her father’s military service, Samantha is buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Back in August of 1994, she was starting her senior year at MacArthur High School and had a job at Wendy's. But she no longer lived with her parents.
"I brought her to my house to stay with me," says Jo Anna. "She was emancipated as an adult."
Samantha and Jo Anna were living near Loop 410 and Nacogdoches Road, in a complex known at the time as the Danbury Apartments. However, shortly before she disappeared, Samantha decided to move in with some teenagers who also lived at the complex.
"It was only a matter of weeks from the time that she made that decision that I got the notification that she had been found dead," remembers Jo Anna.
Samantha was last seen August 30th. Days later, on September 3rd, her body would be discovered southwest of San Antonio, in rural Frio County.
The Texas Rangers led the investigation, which determined she was the victim of a homicide.
At the same time, Jo Anna says she led her own investigation.
"Just trying to figure out, 'Ok, this is where she was staying, let's look at the cars around there,'" says Jo Anna. "She was hanging out with some kids. I don't know, they were teenagers."
But with little evidence and few leads to go on, Samantha's murder case eventually went cold.
"I just thought it was over with," admits Jo Anna. "It just got buried."
This week though, everything changed with a phone call.
"I started shaking when I got a call from the Texas Rangers."
Twenty-four years later, the Rangers are putting a spotlight on Samantha's case, offering up to six-thousand dollars for information leading to an arrest.
"Wow, somebody does care," says Jo Anna. "Somebody finally cares. My father is on his death bed right now. It would be a miracle if we could get this solved."
Jo Anna says she knows somebody's out there. Somebody knows something.
"They need to come forward," she says. "They just need to come forward. They need to talk to the Texas Rangers. They need to put this to rest. Samantha deserves it."
If you know what happened to Samantha Zublionis, call 1-800-252-TIPS. You can remain anonymous.
"With the Texas Rangers and the good Lord on our side," Jo Anna says, "Miracles happen all the time."