FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) — The mother of one of the women presumed to have been killed at a Euless hotel in September said she believes her daughter needed a place to stay and had befriended the man accused of strangling her.
Lauren Phillips, 34, was identified in a criminal complaint this week against Jason Thornburg. The Tarrant County medical examiner's office has not officially identified her yet, but Kathie Phillips said she expects confirmation soon and knows one of her daughter's friends took her to the motel.
Investigators arrested Thornburg last week for killing Phillips, David Lueras, and a still unidentified woman over several days. Their remains were found in a burning trash dumpster. An arrest warrant said Thornburg believed he was sacrificing the victims.
Kathie Phillips said it had been months since she had seen her daughter, who struggled with mental health issues and addiction to methamphetamine. "It's a great loss. She was a good person."
When Lauren was well, clean from drugs for about 10 years, the mother of two teenage boys had worked in home health care and extended care facilities. But the drugs came back into her life.
"The last time I heard from her, she called and said mama I just want to see your face. I want to hold you, I want to love you, I miss you," Kathie Phillips recalled. "I said honey I can't help you anymore. And I feel bad but I had to give tough love at that point."
Phillips said she visited the Euless motel last weekend, wanting to know where it was and could imagine her daughter there. She was told Lauren came across Thornburg while he was passing out fliers for a local church, something motel residents said he would do regularly, while also reading the Bible in front of his room.
Kathy Phillips said she kind of looks at her daughter's passing as a godsend, because she is no longer struggling.
"I have to believe she's in a better place right now," she said.
In addition to the three deaths in Euless, an arrest warrant for Thornburg says he admitted to killing roommate Mark Jewell in May, and setting the house on fire. He also told police he killed his girlfriend Tanya Begay, who was last seen on road trip with Thornburg between Arizona and New Mexico in 2017.
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