Deep in the woods south of Dayton on Friday night, there was a party on the Trinity River bank. We are told Saturday the party was to celebrate the conviction this week of a woman found guilty of killing a young boy on a four-wheeler all-terrain vehicle several years ago. She had lived in the same neighborhood where the teen girl was killed early Saturday.
Around midnight, Charli Gore left the party after deputies said an altercation erupted. She began walking home. Neighbors heard their dogs barking. One man who asked not to be identified says his wife heard noise.
"She came outside here and saw cars racing out of here," he said.
Saturday morning, Gore's body was found in a ditch just down the road. She'd been hit by a car, and investigators believe it was no accident.
"It appears that the vehicle left the roadway and intentionally struck her and killing her, and then sped away from the scene," said Capt. Rex Evans with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office.
A car was towed from a few miles from where the body was found. The hood was dented and the windshield was shattered.
The vehicle was found at the home of 31-year-old Michael Shane Linkenhoker, who's had run-ins with the law before. He was charged Saturday night with criminally negligent homicide.
Also arrested was 34-year-old Connie Nelston -- said to be Linkenhoker's girlfriend. She was charged for interfering with a police investigation and filing a false report.
The story, though, is about Gore -- a high school sophomore. Her family was too stunned to speak about her death. Friends say, like so many parents, her parents were concerned about her safety.
"It's like, 'Please don't do this. Don't do that. Stick by the house. Don't go off,'" friend and neighbor Debbie Knowles said, explaining how parenting often goes. "You worry about them."
In Dayton Saturday, an annual spring festival was underway. That's where Gore's brother learned from friends that his sister was dead, and where classmates like Jonathon Brohawn learned they would never see her again.
"I didn't really realize what was going on at first 'cause I knew she was dead," Brohawn said. "It's almost as if I was going to see here the next day [and say] 'Hey charley, whats up?'"
It's a brutal end to a life that was just beginning, stopped here on a dirt road near the Trinity River. And it's haunting a man who lives nearby.
"What bothers me is why would you get to the point that you have to hit somebody like that in order to protect something?" he asked. "What is it? Was it that bad?"
No bond was set for Linkinhoker or Nelston.
This story was brought to you through our partnership with Houston Community Newspapers. You can read more about it in the Dayton News.