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3 suspects arrested for allegedly torturing former GOP state Senate candidate on Xmas Eve


Republican state Senate candidate Vanessa Tijerina said she was “violently terrorized, bound, gagged, [and] tortured” on Christmas Eve before being rescued by police officers. Three have now been arrested in conjunction with the brutal assault. No motive has been found yet.

Tijerina lost in the Raymondville, Texas election in November.

A woman, identified as Amanda Salinas, 18, allegedly asked to meet Tijerina at the Texas Inn in Raymondville to discuss “something very important regarding her safety,” KVEO reported. Salinas was out on bond for attempted murder after stabbing her boyfriend earlier this year, Raymondville Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora said Wednesday. Police records show Salinas was high on narcotics the day of the assault.

Zamora says Tijerina met Salinas while they were in jail together.

“When she arrived they let her in and pretended like everything was OK,” he said. “They started a small conversation, and all of the sudden Amanda Salinas started accusing Vanessa of either badmouthing or insulting her or her family.”

“They made it seem like they had something really, really important to tell me and they couldn’t tell me on the phone,” Tijerina said in a Facebook Live video, adding, that she was “terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured” in another. She also posted pics via Twitter.

Her attackers allegedly stole her car, money, and everything from her, including her children’s Christmas presidents.

“I knew if I fought back that I would not live,” Tijerina said, adding that “somebody wanted this done to my face.”

Zamora says the people in the hotel room tied Tijerina up. At one point they covered her face and gagged her with a bandana or towel, threatening to kill her and beating her savagely.

“They punched her multiple times, and then they used a cloth to try to strangle her. They kicked her,” Zamora stated. “That was an ordeal for her; these girls, they meant business. They weren’t playing around. This was no game.”

Tijerina posted graphic photographs of herself following the attack, revealing bruises covering her entire face. The former candidate included the number of the Raymondville Police Department, asking anyone to call if they have information regarding the incident.

“This was purely a hate crime,” Tijerina added in a tweet. “The person ordering the torture on a live stream is still unidentified.”

Tijerina’s assailants broadcast the attack in a video online, Zamora said.

“That’s how we got the call,” he said. “We got the call about what was happening to her, we just didn’t know exactly where, so we went by the house, we went by some of the hotels until we finally found her car at the Texas Inn.”

Officers found Vela, 20, and Santana, 29, in the room when they arrived, Zamora said. He says Tijerina was hidden in the bathroom.

“They hid her inside the bathroom and they kind of threatened her not to say anything or else they were going to kill her,” he said.

Police said Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela, and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. were arrested.

Salinas was charged with one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, one count of assault causing bodily injury, one count of unlawful restraint, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of assault fam/house/mem impede breath/circulation and three counts of possession.

Santana Jr. was charged with one count of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated assault, one count of assault strangulation, one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, one count of assault that caused bodily injury, one count of unlawful restraint and possession.

Vela was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of assault fam/house/mem impede breath/circulation, one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, two counts of assault that resulted in bodily injury, one count of unlawful restraint, and one count of possession.

Salinas was given a $170,365 bond, while Vela was given $115,365. Santana Jr. was given a $140,365 bond, according to police.

Zamora says the assault was not tied to Tijerina’s status as a political candidate and described it as an isolated incident. As far as a motive for the bizarre crime, Zamora says he remains puzzled over it.

“I wish I had a better motive for this. It really doesn’t make any sense,” the chief said.

Zamora also reported that another individual was in the room for a portion of the incident and that his department is currently searching for two individuals to question about the assault.

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