Two Fort Worth American Eagle Employees Strangled, Burned the Body of Co-Worker, Cops Say

Police say Clarence Mallory and Carter Cervantez thought they got away with their first theft -- an $18,000 deposit absconded with from the Hulen Mall's American Eagle's safe after-hours in August -- so they decided to do it again. This time, they were going after a bigger score, the store's Black Friday take, estimated to have been between $40,000 and $50,000 by an American Eagle loss prevention officer.

This time, it wasn't going to be as easy as the theft on August 24. Mallory and Cervantez didn't have inside access any more. They hadn't been prosecuted over the summer, but they had been fired from their jobs at the store. In the first crime, police say, Cervantez left the back door unlocked at closing and a hooded Mallory waltzed in, walked right to the safe and grabbed the cash. This time the duo would need keys. They decided to get them, the Fort Worth Police Department says, from Ashlea Harris.

Harris was found in her burned-out apartment the morning of November 28, bound with duct tape and apparently strangled. The only thing missing from her apartment, police say, were her keys. Neighbors said that saw a black Infinity, one they hadn't seen before, leaving their complex just after smoke alarms went off.

Investigators would learn from witnesses that the Infinity belongs to Cervantez. They tracked it to her apartment complex early on November 29. When she and Mallory left her apartment, police followed the pair to the mall. Cervantez was observed going into the mall while Mallory waited. Cervantez never made it inside the store. The locks had been changed after Harris' murder.

Police arrested Mallory at the mall for driving without a license and picked up Cervantez later on the 29th as she walked back from the laundry room to her apartment. Apparently, she had walked home from the mall after being stymied from getting into the American Eagle.

Both Cervantez and Mallory have been charged with capital murder and theft.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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