Police investigating homicide in found teen's death

Tuesday, August 26th 2008, 8:44 pm
By: News 9


OKLAHOMA CITY -- The search for answers continues in the death of a Schulter teen.

Tesla Applegate's body was found lying in an Oklahoma City street about two months ago.

A recent tip helped Oklahoma City police determine Applegate's identity. Now, investigators, family and friends hope information will surface to help them find out what led to her death.

The 17-year-old's body was found in southeast Oklahoma City on June 21. She died five days later.

"She was found in the middle of the road.  She had significant injuries that ultimately led to her death," said Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Gary Knight.

The medical examiner ruled it was blunt trauma to the head. At first, police thought she may have been hit by a car.

"Because of the suspicious nature of her injuries which ultimately led to her death, we're working it as a homicide.  We're going to go ahead and investigate it that way until we're told otherwise," Knight said.

The teen's mother reported her missing August 3 after she had not called relatives. She told police the teen had been visiting a friend in Oklahoma City, but her daughter refused to say where she was.

The teen attended Schulter High School up to her senior year.

"People here in a small community.  It's a close-knit community, so we know everyone that goes to school here and we know everyone that is a member of this community and it's always sad when we hear of people who have moved away and hear of their passing," Schulter Superintendent Alfred Gaches said.

While the investigation is ongoing, Schulter residents who knew the teen can't believe what happened.

Tanna Lay used to babysit Applegate years ago.

"She was a sweet kid.  Very happy, always wanting to please everybody, always laughing, just fun to be around," Lay said.

A memorial service was held for Applegate in Henryetta. She was buried in southern Oklahoma between her great-grandparents.

Applegate's mother said she loved music and dancing, and had a funny personality. She said she's confident someone knows what happened to her daughter.

Anyone with information is urged to call Oklahoma City police.