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PD: Teen Found Dead In Car Hanging Off Embankment Was Murdered

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - A North Texas teenager is found dead in a car crashed off an embankment near the corner of Lippitt and Easton Avenues, in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas.

Police say it was just before 8:30 a.m. when they received a call about a car crashed into a creek in the 11700 block of Dixfield Drive. When officers arrived they found an 18-year-old deceased. But investigators don't believe it was the crash that killed her, officials say the teen died as a result of "homicidal violence".

Dallas Fire Rescue was called out to help recover the body from the vehicle. Police have not released the girl's manner of death. Monday afternoon, detectives said there were obvious signs that this was a violent homicide.

Police confirm that the victim is Zoe Hastings, who went missing after leaving her home Sunday afternoon. Her family reported her missing a short time later, when she did not arrive for a 5:00 p.m. church class. The teen was driving a white 2007 Honda Odyssey with Texas license plate BF62154 -- the same vehicle recovered at the scene Monday.

body recovery - water crash 1
(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Zoe Hastings' family are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Lake Highlands. She was on the way there, a family friend said, when she disappeared.

The teen's home, the church, and the creek where she was found are located within a mile of each other.

Hastings is a 2015 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. The principal sent a letter home with students, sharing the news with great sadness, and letting parents know that counselors would be available to help grieving students.

Zoe Hastings
Zoe Hastings (credit: Facebook)

The tragic discovery - and mystery surrounding the death - left many families in the neighborhood heartbroken, and shocked. "I wanted to see for myself. I can't imagine what her family is going through," said Mark Clayton, Dallas City Councilman for District 9.

Neighbors describe this as a safe area, where people look out for one another. Many strangers stopped by to comfort the loved ones of Hastings, who were called to the scene by Dallas police this morning.

"We've been here 13 years and never had anything like this happen. It's just shocking," said Joe Noriega, who lives in the area.

Noriega was driving his own daughter to school at Booker T. Washington this morning, when he says a man flagged him down, saying a girl in the creek needed help. "When I saw the scene I just knew it was foul play."

Noriega says he backed away from the crime scene and called police. He says the man who flagged him down, disappeared - information which he reported to Dallas police.

Police say the murder investigation is ongoing, but are asking that anyone with information about the crash or Hastings murder contact the Dallas Police Homicide Unit at 214-671-3661 or the Crime Stoppers tip line at 214-373-TIPS (8477).

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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