An 18-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of a Texas girl last week.
Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez is expected to be charged with capital murder in the death of 11-year-old Maria González, the Pasadena County Police Department announced on Saturday. Mr Garcia-Rodriguez was taken into custody by the Shreveport Police Department in Louisiana and will be extradited to Texas in the following days.
He is accused of sexually assaulting Maria and strangling her to death before placing her body in a laundry basket under her bed. Maria’s father Carmelo González, who had received text messages from her daughter saying someone was knocking on the door, found the body when he returned home from work on 12 August.
Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said during a press conference on Friday that detectives had talked to and taken DNA samples from Mr Garcia-Rodriguez on the day that Maria was found. He clarified that Mr Garcia-Rodriguez lived in the González’s apartment complex.
Maria’s family issued a statement to KHOU 11 thanking detectives for their commitment to finding justice for the family.
“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. “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.”
The statement continued: “I ask for those who are in charge to give us justice. May he be burdened with the full weight of the law, for what he has done to my daughter.”
Police said that Maria was in communication with her father on the morning of her murder. Mr González told her not to open the door amd asked a family member who lives near the complex to check on Maria, but he wasn’t able to find her.
“I left her alone in the apartment and she was sending voice notes saying that someone was on the door. I told her not to open the door and that I was leaving work,” an emotional Mr Gonzalez told Univision in Spanish.
Mr González eventually found Maria’s remains wrapped inside two plastic bags and stuffed inside a basket. The medical examiner determined that Maria was sexually assaulted and that her cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation and blunt force head and neck trauma.
Maria had immigrated to the US with her father four years ago and they had moved into their apartment just three months ago.
Pasadena police said that Mr Garcia-Rodriguez also immigrated from Guatemala and surrendered to border officers in El Paso, NewsNation. reported.