Time to kill
Maria was murdered by a medical technique normally used to save lives...
Sipping their mocktails, Tiffany and Amber felt so grown up.
Their dad, Anthony Allen Shore, winked at them from the stage, as he played in his band to a packed club.
Affectionately known as Telephone Tony, he was, by day, a phone repairer. He was the cool dad everyone wanted, and showered the girls with presents.
So when he and the girls’ mum, Gina, broke up in 1993, it was no surprise that Amber, nine, and Tiffany, eight, went to live with him.
Like any dad, he had a protective streak, but it was made worse by the fact that there was a child predator on the loose.
The bodies of two young girls had been dumped in alleyways, having been raped and strangled, in their home city of Houston, Texas.
The method of death was the same: a nylon cord twisted around their throats, tightened with an improvised stick – a toothbrush or piece of bamboo.
Because these ligatures resembled straps tied by medics around limbs to restrict blood flow, the perpetrator was dubbed the Tourniquet Killer.
A third victim, 14-year-old Selma
Janske, had been raped by an intruder, but managed to escape.
So whenever Anthony left Tiffany and Amber at home alone, he locked the windows and doors.
But as the years went by, his perfect dad halo was slipping.
The family struggled for money, so he didn’t allow the girls to wash properly.
The house was squalid and infested with cockroaches.
Amber and Tiffany hated being the smelly girls in school – always teased for their dirty clothes and greasy hair – but what could they do?
Sometimes Anthony relented and allowed them to have sleepovers with their friends, encouraging the young girls to dress up in make-up and sequins that made them look far older.
In early 1997, when Tiffany was 12, her teacher tipped off a social worker saying that the young girl didn’t seem happy.
But when the social worker visited, the home was sparkling.
Amber and Tiffany were spotless, and Anthony was charming as normal.
The girls watched as she snapped her casebook closed and walked out the door.
Later that summer, Anthony married Amy Lynch, who was just 18.
He shipped the girls off to his mum in Sacramento, California, so he could have an extended honeymoon.
Given the dirty state of the girls and their clothes, his mum suspected something was up.
She asked her daughter, Regina, Anthony’s younger sister, to help find out what.
So while Amber stayed with her nan, Regina took Tiffany into her home. Regina hated herself for doing it, but she played a trick on Tiffany.
She told her that the plan was for Amber to stay with Nanny and for Tiffany to go back home to Anthony. Tiffany broke down.
She couldn’t face going back there without her sister.
Then she revealed the devil lurking behind the facade of ‘Telephone Tony’.
Her father had first raped her when she was 10, and it continued.
Regina checked with her mum, and Amber confirmed the same thing had happened to her. Anthony was a paedophile. In 1998, he was convicted of indecent abuse, but was only sentenced to probation.
His daughters and mum were outraged at his light sentence but, importantly, as a sex offender, Anthony had been forced to give a DNA sample.
In 2003, Houston police did a cold case review.
They sent fingernail clippings from the 1992 murder of Maria del Carmen Estrada and matched it to Anthony’s DNA.
In October 2003, Anthony was arrested.
When police brought him in for questioning for the murder of Maria, Anthony confessed.
Even more shockingly, he revealed he’d killed three other girls he’d lured into his van.
He also confessed to the rape of Selma, the one that got away.
He was the Tourniquet Killer. There was no remorse. Detectives said it was as if he was telling a story about someone else.
The case made big news in Texas. Tiffany, then 18, and living with her nan in Sacramento, got a call from Amber in Houston.
‘Hey, Dad’s a serial killer,’ said Amber.
Tiffany thought it was a joke, but it was true.
In October 2004, Anthony was convicted for the murder of Maria – the strongest case police had.
Rape victims Selma and Tiffany also gave evidence against him.
Tiffany said, ‘He just looked sickly. Pale and balding...
‘He just looked like some sick, twisted individual.
‘He finally looked on the outside the type of person that he was on the inside.’
Instead of probation this time, he was sentenced to death.
In January 2018, he was finally executed by lethal injection.
An end that could hardly match the tortuous one he meted out to four girls.