Police in Texas have identified an illegal alien as a “person of interest” in the brutal killing of a young girl whose body was found strangled and stuffed under a bed in her own apartment, a crime that horrified the community.
The victim, 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez, was home alone on August 12 while her father was at work when someone she didn’t know showed up at the door and was knocking. The child texted her dad about the individual outside but it would be the last time that he heard from her.
The father sent family members to check on his daughter but they were unable to find her. When he returned home to the Pasadena, TX apartment that afternoon, he found Maria’s lifeless body under a bed where she had been hidden after being sexually assaulted and strangled.
Pasadena Police announced that they have identified 18-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, an illegal alien from Guatemala who lived at the apartment complex and has gone missing.
In a Friday press release, the police said that apartment complex employees have “fully cooperated” with the investigation and do not appear to have been involved in the girl’s slaying.
(Screenshot: Facebook/Pasadena Police Department)
“While investigators were processing the crime scene, a single key was located inside the apartment and collected as evidence. This key has since been processed by our crime scene investigators and was not found to open any doors at the victim’s residence,” the statement reads. “Our investigators also confirmed that the young girl’s body was found inside a plastic trash bag that was placed inside a laundry basket and concealed under a bed inside the home.”
“Although we continue combing through multiple evidentiary items, including digital media, no arrests have been made; however, a person of interest has been identified. 18-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez is a person of interest and was residing at the same apartment complex where the victim was found but has since left,” the police said.
Maria Gonzalez (11) was murdered while her dad was at work. She was sexually assaulted and strangled to death on Saturday in Pasadena, Texas. The last time he heard from his daughter, she sent him a text saying someone was knocking at the door. When he returned home, he found… pic.twitter.com/LUuDYgPHdX
— Rose (@901Lulu) August 16, 2023
Garcia-Rodriguez was interviewed by investigators who collected DNA evidence from him on the day of the murder, he was one of several people in the area who were spoken with, according to Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger who said that he wasn’t on the radar at the time.
According to a report from KHOU, “Bruegger said Garcia-Rodriguez is Guatemalan who is in the U.S. illegally. Earlier this year, he was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection before he was released to sponsors in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It was there that his sponsors had reached out to their connections in Pasadena and told them that Garcia-Rodriguez needed work and a place to stay. That’s how Garcia-Rodriguez ended up at the same apartment complex Maria stayed in.”
“Bruegger said there is no warrant out for Garcia-Rodriguez’s arrest. He said investigators just want to talk to him to get more information and that more evidence is needed to name him as a suspect,” the outlet reported. “Bruegger said he’s not sure if Garcia-Rodriguez is running away to Mexico, but his whereabouts are unknown. Pasadena police have reached out to their federal apartments and flagged Garcia-Rodriguez with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security just in case he tries to cross the border.”
Pasadena Police will soon get their chance to subject Garcia-Rodriguez to a grilling. He was captured by police in Shreveport, Louisiana on Saturday and will be extradited to Texas where he will face charges of capital murder.
“We want to say thank you to the Pasadena Police Department and to Louisiana police and any officials that participated in bringing this cold-blooded murderer into custody,” the victim’s family said in a statement according to KHOU. “This arrest has brought the family and community some peace. We are extremely thankful that he cannot cause this type of pain to anybody again.”
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