Fort Worth man arrested in 1986 slaying of teen

FORT WORTH -- Almost 25 years after a Diamond Hill teenager was shot outside a north-side service station, police have arrested a 47-year-old Fort Worth man in connection with his robbery and death.

Fredrick Bernard Jennings was arrested Sunday on a capital murder warrant obtained by cold-case investigators this month after police responded to a domestic disturbance at his mother's home in the 4200 block of Littlejohn Avenue.

Jennings is accused in the slaying of 18-year-old Francisco Puente outside a service station at 2416 NE 28th St. on Aug. 18, 1986.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit written by cold-case Detective Manny Reyes, Jennings was linked to the crime through prints and DNA found on a beer bottle at the scene and palm prints found on the victim's pickup.

Relatives of the victim could not be reached Tuesday.

A 1986 Star-Telegram article about the slaying said Puente and a 21-year-old friend were leaving the service station when two armed men approached their pickup from either side. The friend told police that neither he nor Puente, who both spoke Spanish, could understand what the men, who were speaking English, were saying to them.

Puente, the affidavit states, was shot when he grabbed for the gun being pointed at him by one of the men. The friend wrestled away the other man's gun, but a third man then came up and took it back, the affidavit states.

The gunman who had shot Puente then chased the friend around the truck, stopping when his gun either jammed or ran out of ammunition. The men then fled.

Puente, who was shot in the head and right leg, was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he died a short time later. The friend, who had been shot in the leg, survived.

Three days after the slaying, police received a Crime Stoppers tip indicating that three men were involved in the slaying. But investigators were unable to identify them.

But after reopening the case, Reyes identified and tracked down the three suspects mentioned in the tip, described in the affidavit as childhood friends who had attended the same school.

A re-examination of crime scene evidence linked one of them, Jennings, to a fingerprint and later DNA on a beer bottle found at the scene. In an interview in June 2009, Jennings told Reyes that he had no idea how his print could have been found at the crime scene, stating that he didn't hang around the north side of town.

This month, investigators learned that palm prints found on the hood and rear of Puente's truck also matched Jennings, indicating that he was the man who had chased the friend around the truck after shooting Puente, the affidavit states.

Sharron Neal, a police spokeswoman, said based on the new findings, investigators obtained a warrant for Jennings' arrest Dec. 15.

No other arrests have been made in the case but, Neal said, the investigation is continuing.

Tarrant County court records show that Jennings has a long criminal history in Tarrant County, including time in prison for aggravated assault, burglary of a vehicle, auto theft and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

Bobbie McGee, Jennings' mother, said she was in the hospital when she learned that her son had been arrested over traffic tickets after officers went to her home for what she described as a "family argument."

McGee said Jennings later called her granddaughter, telling her that he was being held on a capital murder warrant.

"I very seriously doubt it happened," McGee said.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655