Lorenza Andre Sam is behind bars for murdering his former boss, Leesa Nascimento, and discarding her body in a lake in Sugar Land, Texas.
On the morning of July 9, 2010, officers were dispatched to Lakebend at Sugar Creek near the Southwest Freeway and Sugar Creek Blvd. after receiving a 911 call about a body floating in the water, according to ABC 13.
They recovered the body from the water and transported it to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office, where the remains were identified as those of Nascimento.
She had been reported missing two days prior, on July 7, after the 49-year-old failed to show up for work. She owned a shop, Artful Occasions, located in the Sugar Creek Shopping Center.
An autopsy showed that Nascimento had been shot in the face, and investigators immediately suspected Sam of the shooting.
Sugar Land police learned through an investigation that Nascimento hired Sam as a handyman. She wanted him to do some work at her home in the Sienna Plantation subdivision and her place of business.
When Nascimento became convinced that he was stealing money, jewelry, and other items from her purse, flower shop, and home, she fired him.
Sam asked for his job back, but Nascimento refused to hire him again.
About six weeks after his termination, it was reported that Sam broke into Nascimento’s Missouri City home and fatally shot her.
The then-31-year-old also robbed Nascimento before he wrapped her body in a rug and placed her inside her vehicle.
Sam drove to a lake behind Nascimento’s shop, dumped her body in the water, and fled to Gibsland, Louisiana.
It was there that he abandoned Nascimento’s vehicle in a remote area before heading to Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Officials said Sam started a new job on an offshore barge off the coast of Mississippi just days before police officials caught up with him.
He was arrested and extradited to Texas, where he was booked into the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility on charges of capital murder.
His bond was set at $1 million.
On July 30, 2013, a 240th District Court jury found Sam guilty of murdering Nascimento. Officials said DNA evidence, digital footprints, and 45 witnesses were used during the trial to convict him.
Assistant District Attorney Lorretta Owen said, “Lorenza Sam repaid Leesa Nascimento’s kindness in hiring him by stealing from her and ultimately, the extreme cruelty of taking her life.”
“Imprisoned before for aggravated battery, burglary of a habitation, and robbery in the state of Louisiana, he will now spend the rest of his life in prison—where he belongs.”
They did not seek the death penalty, therefore; Sam was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In 2016, Sam appealed his murder conviction, claiming there were several issues in the case. He said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove he intentionally caused Nascimento’s death.
He added that police had “no eyewitness, confession, DNA fingerprints on the body, no murder weapon in his possession, no evidence of unlawful entry or force in taking the victim’s property, and no reliable cause of time of death,” according to Justia US Law.
Sam also stated that his trial counsel did not render effective assistance, but despite his claims, the judge rejected his appeal.