A license plate reader picked up Abigail “Abby” Saldaña’s car driving through a Fort Worth intersection the night of Oct. 26. Seconds later, it registered the pickup truck of the customer police say the 22-year-old stripper feared had been stalking her.
Stanley Szeliga, 54, has been charged with murder, accused of fatally shooting Saldaña. He’s locked up in the Tarrant County Jail on a $250,000 bond.
The night of Oct. 26, a bystander called 911 to report that she’d watched a car speed off a highway exit ramp into a grassy area, Fort Worth detective L. Dickerson said in a sworn affidavit for Szeliga’s arrest. When the 911 caller went to check out the car, she noticed bullet holes in the passenger side. The woman inside was not moving or responsive.
Detectives responding to the call tentatively identified Saldaña using a passport they found in the car. They also noticed clothes that looked like those worn by strippers, Dickerson said in the affidavit. From the scene of the crash, police could see a strip club — Rick’s Cabaret — and went to check it out. The manager confirmed the woman they’d found in the car was an employee but said she hadn’t worked that day. But, he told them, according to the affidavit, Saldaña had recently been harassed by a customer he knew as “Stan.”
The manager showed the detective an Oct. 14 Instagram post in which Saldaña said she found a tracker under her car. The manager went through several more posts indicating that “Stan” was irritated with Saldaña and had threatened to tell police she was engaged in prostitution, Dickerson wrote.
Saldaña’s family told police she was afraid because of Szeliga’s stalking and harassment, according to the affidavit.
Detectives checked a license plate reader near Saldaña’s place. Police say it not only showed Saldaña’s and Szeliga’s vehicles had traveled through the intersection minutes before Saldaña was killed, but it had also recorded Szeliga’s truck going through that same intersection five times in the 13 days prior.
“[A]ll of which indicate that he may have been stalking the victim,” Dickerson wrote.
And so Dickerson called Szeliga, who agreed to come down to Dickerson’s office that day at 5:30 p.m. About 15 minutes before the meeting, the detective said, Szeliga called to say he’d been told of a death in his family but would still make their appointment.
But Szeliga never showed, Dickerson said.
The detective got a judge to sign a search warrant for Szeliga’s place. At 11:30 that night, the Fort Worth SWAT team went to serve it. But Szeliga refused to come out, the affidavit states, and eventually “caused a self-inflicted wound to his neck” that required medical treatment before he was arrested.
Saldaña’s mother, Jessica Contreras, told KDFW that, a few weeks before the shooting, her daughter confided to her that she’d found a tracking device under her car and thought she was being followed. Contreras said she urged her daughter to report the device to law enforcement. Police confirmed that report is part of their homicide investigation.
Saldaña’s Instagram page has been made private, but KFDX published the Oct. 14 video she posted about finding the tracker on her car. “This was literally on my car like this,” Saldaña told viewers as she popped the device onto the undercarriage of her car using its magnets. “This is why you have to be careful.”
Then, she opened the box, revealing an electronic device inside.
“This is so crazy, you guys. Who would do this?”
Szeliga also had an Instagram account, according to the affidavit, where Szeliga accused Saldaña of engaging in prostitution and claimed to have paid the exotic dancer thousands of dollars for sex.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Szeliga made those claims on his account three hours before the fatal shooting. Several of his past posts were allegedly devoted to Saldaña, including one on Oct. 17 that said he and “Abigail S.” had been “enjoying each other’s company” since July. He began the post by saying, “I never thought I’d be one of those guys to be taken advantage of” and implying that he was Saldaña’s boyfriend.
“She’s so beautiful and personable that I envisioned a future with her,” the post states. “But dealing with all the lies is overwhelming, I realize that’s part of your primary job as an adult entertainer. But leave it at the club. If you only leave your second job, being in a high-end prostitution ring we could move forward.”
Saldaña hailed from Wichita Falls, Tex., but moved to Dallas with her 5-year-old son about two years ago, Contreras told the Star-Telegram. To support him as a single mother, she had several jobs, one styling eyebrows and another working at a bar.
“He took away a mother; a daughter; a beautiful, strong, bright person,” Contreras said. “There will be justice on that. I won’t stop.”