FORT WORTH, Texas — Police in Texas have arrested a man accused of stalking an exotic dancer and placing a GPS tracker on her car before ultimately following her and killing her as she drove through Fort Worth last month.
Stanley Frank Szeliga, 54, is charged with murder in the Oct. 26 killing of 22-year-old Abigail “Abby” Saldaña. As of Thursday morning, Szeliga was being held in the Tarrant County Jail in lieu of bail set at $250,000.
Saldaña’s family told Fort Worth news media that the young mother was afraid in the weeks before her death. She feared someone was following her and had posted on Instagram about finding the tracker on her car.
“I had told her to go to the police and report it,” Saldaña’s mother, Jessica Contreras, told Fox 4 in Dallas. “I believe that she did report that.”
Fort Worth police officials confirmed that Saldaña had reported finding the tracker, according to the news station.
An arrest affidavit written by Fort Worth police Detective L. Dickerson lays out the case against Szeliga. According to the document, patrol officers were called around 8:40 p.m. Oct 26 to an area of Highway 183, where a silver Hyundai sedan had gone off the road and into a grassy area. A passerby who called 911 told dispatchers she had approached the vehicle and spotted bullet holes on the passenger side.
Saldaña was found dead inside the car. She had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.
The affidavit, which was obtained by the Law & Crime Network, states that three shots went through Saldaña’s car.
“Detective Galloway and I located three shell casings and broken glass at the intersection of Amon Carter Boulevard and State Hwy. 183, which is believed to be where the victim was shot prior to entering the freeway as witnessed by the 911 caller,” Dickerson wrote.
The detectives noted clothes in Saldaña’s vehicle that were “consistent with those worn by exotic dancers,” the document states. From the spot on the freeway where Saldaña’s car came to rest, they could see Rick’s Cabaret.
When they went to Rick’s and asked about Saldaña, the manager confirmed that she worked there.
“The manager went on to explain that Abigail had recently been harassed by a customer of Rick’s that the manager knew only as Stan,” according to the affidavit.
Stan was a military veteran, but that was all the manager knew about the customer.
The manager showed the detectives Saldaña’s Instagram account, on which she posted Oct. 14 that she had found a GPS tracker hidden on her vehicle.
“Check under your car ladies!” the post read. “This is no joke and sometimes you think it will never be you!”
According to Dickerson, the manager of Rick’s told investigators that Saldaña was scared of Stan, who had been following and harassing her. The slain woman’s mother told KFDX-TV in Wichita Falls that her daughter had also taken pictures of the alleged stalker’s truck to give to police.
The manager at Rick’s also showed the detectives several Instagram posts on the customer’s account in which Stan expressed irritation with Saldaña, writing that he was going to report her to the police for prostitution.
About three hours before the homicide, Stan had posted a screenshot on Instagram indicating he had paid Saldaña $3,000 at some point, the affidavit states. The customer appeared to be posting the image as proof of his prostitution claims.
The screenshot contained the man’s address, which traced back to Szeliga. The manager was able to provide the customer’s cellphone number, which also traced back to Szeliga.
In their research of Szeliga, detectives learned he owned a red Ford F-150. According to Dickerson, a license plate reader recorded the truck at an intersection near Saldaña’s home at 8:22 p.m., just minutes before the shooting was reported.
Saldaña’s silver Hyundai was seen entering the intersection minutes before she was killed. Szeliga’s truck was just seconds behind the sedan.
In addition to those sightings, Szeliga’s truck was spotted by the license plate reader five times in the weeks before the homicide, “all of which indicate that he may have been stalking the victim as alleged,” the affidavit states.
Dickerson called Szeliga in for an interview the day after Saldaña was killed, but he did not show up as promised. The detective obtained a search warrant for Szeliga’s home, where a SWAT team found him with self-inflicted wounds, including a wound to his neck.
The cuts were mostly superficial, according to the Wichita Falls Times Record News.
Saldaña’s family described her as a good daughter, sister and mother. She leaves behind a 5-year-old son.
Contreras also told KFDX-TV her daughter was brave.
“Thanks to Abby taking pictures of the license plate when she figured out that she was being followed; and we got on, and I pulled the license plate, pulled the name, pulled everything that I needed to,” she told the station. “She was a good-hearted person, hard worker. Had no fear.
“And she outsmarted him because she took pictures. She knew.”
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