Jesslyn Zuniga death: Family searches for answers after teen found dead after 1st date

ByBrooke Taylor KTRK logo
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
Teen's reported suicide now investigated as hit-and-run
Police were initially investigating the death of Jesslyn Zuniga as a suicide. But now, they're not so sure. In the video above, you'll learn more about the night she went out, and how a crash nearby may be tied in.

HOUSTON -- The family of an 18-year-old who was found dead in Houston over the weekend is desperately searching for answers as to how their daughter left their home to go out on a first date, and never came back.

Initially, police believed Jesslyn Zuniga died from suicide when she was found under a freeway overpass about 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Jose Zuniga refuses to believe his daughter would intentionally jump off the overpass.

"We are honoring my daughter," Zuniga said. "She was a young, beautiful girl full of life. She would never jump off a bridge; she is full of life. She just graduated last year, and it's not something she would do."

Zuniga said his daughter was picked up at their home early Saturday night to go out with a guy she was meeting for the first time, after talking for about a month, and some of her friends were joining.

He knew something was wrong when his daughter never returned home, so he searched the area with his wife and family, and started calling hospitals.

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"First time, and she didn't end up coming back home; she ended up dying," Zuniga said.

Police said a gray Dodge Ram pickup truck hit a barrier a few times and stopped on the shoulder of the freeway.

Witnesses told police a disturbance was heard, and a man was shouting. The man then ran away. Later that night, the driver of the pickup truck went to Houston police and told investigators he had been involved in the crash, and a woman was thrown from the truck.

Now, the case is being investigated by the hit-and-run unit within the Houston Police Department. No charges have been filed.

It's not adding up for Zuniga, who is pleading with witnesses to come forward.

"If you saw anything, if you saw the wreck, or a struggle, please contact police," Zuniga said. "It would be a great help."