Vanessa Tijerina

‘This was no game’: Cops are puzzled after gruesome attack on former state Senate candidate who was ‘gagged & tortured’

Texas authorities say the motive remains unknown after three people allegedly attacked a former GOP state Senate candidate inside a Texas hotel.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the incident happened at the Texas Inn hotel off of Frontage Road in Raymondville. According to police, a woman in a “black bra” lured Vanessa Tijerina by telling her she had to talk to her about “something very important regarding her safety.”

“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 during a Facebook Live video.

The woman in the black bra has been identified as Amanda Salinas, according to Tijerina. Two additional suspects have been identified as Ariel Vera and Raymond Santana. The trio are accused of beating Tijerina, who said they “stomped on” her head and left her damaged teeth and a badly beaten face.

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Amanda Salinas, Ramon Santana Jr and Arielle Vela [Police Handout]
Raymondville Police Chief Uvaldo Zamora said that 18-year-old Salinas, who was out on bond after allegedly stabbing her boyfriend, met Tijerina while they were incarcerated together. Tijerina was previously arrested for driving under the influence with child passengers in her car, according to Newsweek.

Tijerina went to Salinas’ room, according to Zamora, to hear the alleged important information. All three suspects were waiting inside the room.

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

Zamora added that the trio eventually tied Tijerina up, gagged, and beat her while threatening to take her life.

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


The attack doesn’t appear to be political, according to Zamora. Investigators are still trying to determine the motive.

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

All three suspects are facing numerous charges, including, in part, unlawful restraint, aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and unlawful restraint.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to identify an additional person who was in the hotel room when the attack occurred. They’re also searching for two additional people for questioning.

Anyone with information about the case should contact Raymondville police at (956) 642-7463.

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[Featured Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook]