August 26, 2023

USA: 18yo Neighbor Forced His Way Into The Home Of An 11yo Girl Who He Raped, Murdered And Left For Dead Under Her Fathers Bed In Texas. Suspect Arrested In Louisiana. Unlawfully Entered The US.


KHOU 11 published August 25, 2023: Hundreds showed up to console Maria Gonzalez's mother as her body was carried through the streets of Guatemala in a pink casket.
KHOU 11 published Aug 26, 2023: Barbeque benefit raises thousands for family of Maria Gonzalez. "It not only affected the immediate family, but it affected the community," said Meat Planet's Sam Barraza. 
ABC13 Houston published August 24, 2023: 18-year-old gets no bond in murder of 11-year-old girl in Pasadena. It was revealed in court that the suspect claims he was held at gunpoint and forced to act -- saying two other men were involved.

ABC13 News, Houston, TX local
written by Charly Edsitty
Thursday August 24, 2023

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- An 18-year-old charged in the horrific death of an 11-year-old girl made his first appearance in court on Thursday morning.

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, charged with capital murder, walked into court wearing a yellow jumpsuit and handcuffs. He arrived back in Harris County on Wednesday after being arrested in Louisiana.

Sources say he made a full confession upon his arrest. Now, the suspect reportedly claims he was forced to kill the girl.

The judge ruled that he will be held with no bond.

Garcia-Rodriguez is accused of strangling and sexually assaulting 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez at the Main Village Apartments in Pasadena, where Maria lived with her father.

Investigators said it happened on Aug. 12 while her dad was at work.

Before Maria's father, Carmelo Gonzalez, left for work, he heard a man talking on the phone in the stairwell, according to court details. Maria reportedly took out the trash, and when she got back, she told her father their "long-haired neighbor" was the one talking.

Carmelo told police he left for work around 9:45 a.m. At about 10 a.m., he received a text from Maria that someone was knocking on their door. Police now believe that man was her neighbor, Garcia-Rodriguez.

According to court documents, when he got home from work, Carmelo found his daughter's body in a trash bag inside of a clothes hamper underneath a bed.

Detectives were able to identify Garcia-Rodriguez as the suspect, thanks to a key he allegedly left at the crime scene. He was arrested a week later in Shreveport, Louisiana.

His roommate told ABC13 that Garcia-Rodriguez had lived with him for less than a month before he allegedly killed Maria.

It was revealed in court that the suspect claims he was held at gunpoint and forced to sexually assault and murder the girl -- saying two other men were also involved. Prosecutors say they have not found any evidence to support that.

"We're very happy that the judge agreed to continue to hold him at no bond. We believe he is a flight risk," Lisa Calligan with the Harris County District Attorney's Office said. "It's a very serious case, and we're happy with the outcome today."

Meanwhile, Garcia-Rodriguez's defense attorney proclaimed his innocence.

"This is an accusation. In the criminal justice system, that accusation is simply an allegation," defense attorney Mario Madrid said. "My client has a right to a trial and a right to defend himself, and at this time, he's innocent until the state proves him guilty."

DNA evidence still needs to be processed in the case, which officials say could take months.

Garcia-Rodriguez is due back in court on Oct. 30.
FOX 26 Houston published August 20, 2023: Man arrested for death of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez. A suspect has been taken into custody for the death of an 11-year-old girl who was found dead in her family’s Pasadena apartment a week ago. Police say Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, 18, has been charged with capital murder in the death of Maria Gonzalez.

written by Nakia Cooper, Digital Managing Editor and Erica Ponder, Digital Content Producer
Wednesday August 23, 2023

PASADENA, Texas – A judge denied bond Thursday for the man accused of sexually assaulting and strangling an 11-year-old Pasadena girl.

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez was returned to the Houston area on Wednesday. He was initially taken into custody in Shreveport, Louisiana but was later transferred to the custody of the Pasadena Police Department and extradited to Texas to face a capital murder charge in the death of Maria Gonzalez.

ICE history

According to Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials, Garcia-Rodriguez unlawfully entered the United States near El Paso on Jan. 8. He was encountered by the United States Border Patrol and was transported to the El Paso Central Processing Center. Garcia-Rodriguez was released to his sponsor in Louisiana on Feb. 4.

The ICE ERO New Orleans field office lodged a detainer on Aug. 18 with the Shreveport Police Department after Garcia-Rodriguez turned himself into local authorities after he had been identified as a person of interest in Maria’s murder.

The murder

According to Pasadena police, on Aug. 12, Maria was killed at her family’s apartment in the 1000 block of Main.

The girl was home alone when she called her father to tell him that someone was outside their apartment. The chilling message was the last time her father, Carmelo Gonzalez, heard her voice.

“Somebody is knocking on the door. I don’t know. I’m here in the room and somebody is knocking,” Maria said.

The concerned father then asked family members to check on Maria, but they couldn’t find her. When he got home from work, he found his daughter not breathing. Someone had stuffed her body inside a plastic trash bag, which was then placed inside a laundry basket and concealed underneath her father’s bed.

The father immediately called 911.

“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 said.

The father was cleared of any suspicion and police began searching for her killer.

The key

Investigators said as they were processing the crime scene, they found a single key inside the apartment. That key was not found to open any doors at the victim’s residence.

It did not take long for them to zero-in on the neighbor’s home. It turns out that Garcia-Rodriguez was living in a unit just a few steps away from the Gonzalez family.

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.

Garcia-Rodriguez’s roommate at the Pasadena address told investigators that the 18-year-old told him that he was moving in order to get a job out of town. The roommate told him to leave his key to the apartment, but Garcia-Rodriguez refused, according to documents.

The roommate said that made him feel uncomfortable, so once Garcia-Rodriguez left, he had the locks changed.

Investigators tested the key found in the victim’s apartment to the neighbor’s old lock, and it was a match.

On Aug. 18, the Pasadena Police Department named Garcia-Rodgriguez “a person of interest” and images of him were released to the public.

The following day, Garcia Rodriguez surrendered in Caddo Parish, where he was held by Louisiana law enforcement until an extradition could be arranged.

The Gonzalez family shared the following statement about the arrest:

“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. 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.”

Maria’s father is now fighting for justice in Pasadena while her mother grieves from Guatemala.

On Wednesday, the Pasadena Police Department released the following statement:

“The brutal and senseless murder of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez affected many people in our community and across the nation. We stand in solidarity with the Gonzalez family and everyone affected by this tragic event.

Today, the suspect, Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, is in custody and is being transported to the Pasadena Police Department this afternoon.

We want to take the time to thank our Federal partners, including the U.S.M.S. (United States Marshal Service) Gulf Coast Violent Offender and Fugitive Task Force, I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and the Shreveport Police Department for helping locate, detain, and facilitate extradition.”

Crime Stoppers has also created a GoFundMe to help Maria’s family pay for her funeral expenses.

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