PASADENA, Texas – A suspect is being extradited to Texas from Louisiana after being accused of strangling and sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl at her family’s apartment in the Houston area earlier this month.
Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, 18, was arrested Saturday in Shreveport, Louisiana and charged with capital murder after the body of Maria Gonzalez was found underneath her bed on Aug. 12.
Pasadena Police Department Chief Josh Bruegger said the victim’s father, Carmelo Gonzalez, was at work when he got a text from his daughter that morning saying someone was knocking on the door.
Gonzalez asked his brother and sister-in-law to check on Maria after she sent the text but the family members were only able to find the front door unlocked and things out of place when they went inside the apartment.
According to the Associated Press, it wasn’t until Gonzalez returned home from work that he found his daughter wrapped in a trash bag and placed inside a laundry basket under her bed.
“The medical examiner concluded that the cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation. Additional investigation determined that the victim was sexually assaulted,” Pasadena police told KSAT sister station KPRC.
Investigators initially had no suspects but were able to identify Garcia-Rodriguez as a person of interest nearly a week after Gonzalez was found dead.
KSAT sister station KPRC reported that Garcia-Rodriguez lived in an apartment just a few steps away from Gonzalez.
“Police said Garcia-Rodriguez, who is from Guatemala, was in Pasadena living with two other people for about four weeks. Before that, he was reportedly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with people who sponsored him in order to be released by immigration,” according to KPRC.
Officers in Louisiana transferred custody of Garcia-Rodriguez to the Pasadena Police Department on Wednesday.
“May he be burdened with the full weight of the law, for what he has done to my daughter,” the Gonzalez family said in a statement released after Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested.