Missing Houston baby found alive; suspect arrested in her mother's death

Shamali Flores appears unharmed; 28-year-old woman charged with capital murder

By Brittany Taylor - Digital News Editor, Cory McCord - Digital News Editor, Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist, Sophia Beausoleil

HOUSTON - Updated Thursday at 11:40 a.m.:

Houston police have arrested a suspect in connection with the disappearance of a 6-week-old girl and the stabbing death of her mother.

Erika Gisela Miranda-Alvarez is charged with capital murder in the slaying of the baby's mother, Carolina Flores.

According to police, Miranda-Alvarez, 28, was friends with Flores' brother. They said Miranda-Alvarez recently had a miscarriage and attempted to hide the miscarriage from her boyfriend and others.

She continued to fake the pregnancy and was due in January, police said.

Police believe she killed Flores and kidnapped Shamali Flores, and then acted as if she had brought the baby home from the hospital.

The suspect's boyfriend has not been charged, but he is under investigation.

Updated Thursday at 6:03 a.m.:

A 6-week-old Houston baby who has been missing since Tuesday has been found alive, Houston police said.

According to a Tweet from the Houston Police Department, Shamali Flores was found in an apartment Thursday morning in southwest Houston. 

She appears to be OK, but is being evaluated at a hospital.

Police also said that an arrest has been made in connection with the fatal stabbing of Shamali's mother. No details were immediately available about the suspect.

Updated Wednesday at 3:40 p.m.:

Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo on Wednesday said investigators believe a 6-week-old baby may have been abducted by a person who is familiar with the baby's family and the area where they live.

Acevedo said investigators have a theory that Shamali Flores may have been taken by a woman who is acting like she is the child's mother. He said there have been similar cases around the country.

"Think about anyone who all of a sudden has a child that you weren't aware of they were pregnant," Acevedo said at a news conference. "People always think about men. They don't realize that women are just as capable of committing murder, especially a woman who has lost a baby or who have emotional issues."

Acevedo made a plea to the public for anyone with information to come forward.

He also reassured the immigrant community where the victim and her child lived, that they could help solve the case without any fear of being deported by talking to Houston Police. Acevedo explained witnesses can be given visas, so they can testify and stay in the U.S. as long as necessary.

Authorities said the baby's father, Marcos Mariano Palacios, who was found in San Antonio on Tuesday night, is not considered a suspect or a person of interest in the stabbing death of the child's mother, Carolina Flores, 33.

"The father has been cooperative. I wouldn't say 100 percent we're going to clear him, but he's cooperating and he's been helpful and the investigation continues," Acevedo said.

Original story:

Authorities said the father of a 6-week-old baby girl at the center of an AMBER Alert was located in San Antonio late Tuesday night, but that the baby girl was not with him.

An AMBER Alert was issued for the infant, Shamali Flores, around 5 p.m. Tuesday after her mother, 33-year-old Carolina Flores, was found dead at an apartment complex in Greenspoint, officials said.

Flores' death was reported around 1 p.m. in the 100 block of Goodson Drive.

Homicide investigators said the victim was stabbed to death.

WATCH: Authorities provide updates after mother stabbed to death, infant goes missing

Shamali is described as being 30 inches tall and about 20 pounds. She is believed to be Honduran and possibly black or mixed race.

Shamali was initially believed to be with her father, Marcos Mariano Palacios, who is also considered a suspect in the stabbing death of the child's mother, according to investigators. But, when Palacios was found in San Antonio, he told police he had nothing to do with the stabbing death and the baby girl was nowhere to be found. 

Tommy Bernardez is believed to be driving a 2000 Blue Toyota Celica with a black hood with Texas license plate CM7 L340

Anyone with information on Flores' whereabouts is asked to contact the Houston Police Department at 713-308-3600.

Flores' family said she had moved to the United States about five years ago from Honduras for a better life.

"She was very kind, lovable, she was just a person that she was the light in the room, oh, Carolina and for this to happen is just, I just wish it didn't happen," explained Jenny Lopez, a close cousin of Flores.

She said Flores has three kids, but was also taking care of a niece and nephew.

"She had just had the baby. We had talked, she had just called me Sunday to check on me and I could hear it in her voice that it wasn't her but I didn't ask no questions, I didn't think anything was wrong," explained Lopez.

There are many unanswered questions.

Lopez said she doesn't know Palacios and that her cousin never spoke of the child's father.

While the family is trying to cope with Flores' death, they are also worried for her child.

"That's what's really bothering me, that's whats really eating me up alive because the baby is missing. The baby is only six weeks old," Lopez said. "She just had the baby and for this to happen, I just really hope they find the baby and find him as well and he get what he deserves."

*Editors note: An earlier version of this story said the baby was 11-months-old. Houston police later clarified the infant's age.*

Copyright 2017 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.