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Police Nab Suspect Accused of Sexually Assaulting 11-Year-Old Neighbor Girl, Leaving Her Body in Laundry Basket Under Bed

texas case
Source: Pasadena Police Department; UNSPLASH

Aug. 21 2023, Published 11:04 a.m. ET

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An 11-year-old girl died after she was allegedly strangled to death and stuffed into a laundry basket under a bed in her Texas home, and now a suspect has been arrested, authorities announced.

Around 10 a.m. on Aug. 12, Carmelo Gonzalez went to work and his daughter, Maria Gonzalez stayed at their Pasadena home, KTRK reported.

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Shortly after he got to work, Carmelo said he got a message from Maria saying someone was knocking at the door. He told her not to answer the door, and she said she wouldn’t. He didn’t hear from her again, officials said.

“I called and called and called,” Carmelo told KHOU.

Around 1 p.m., Carmelo got in touch with Maria’s aunt and uncle, who live in the same apartment complex, and asked if they could check on her. They did and after a quick search, they couldn’t find Maria, authorities said.

Around two hours later, Carmelo finished at work and arrived back at the apartment, the Pasadena Police said.

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He found his daughter's body wrapped in a trash bag and stuffed in a laundry basket that was put underneath her bed. Carmelo called 911 and when first responders arrived, they pronounced Maria dead a short time later, KTRK reported.

There was no forced entry into the apartment and nothing was stolen, police said.

In a press conference, Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said, “At this point, the father’s alibi checks out, so he is, at this point, not considered a suspect in this investigation.”

Texas Girl Found Wrapped in Trash Bag, Stuffed Under Bed: Police
Source: Pasadena Police Department

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez has been arrested in connection with the murder of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez, who was found strangled to death and stuffed into a laundry basket under a bed.

child killed

On Aug. 19, police confirmed that 18-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested by police in Shreveport, Louisiana, in connection with the murder of the girl, KTRK-TV reported.

He was booked into the Caddo Parish Jail and is awaiting extradition back to Texas.

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Garcia-Rodriguez's roommate, who lived next door to the Gonzalez family, told KTRK-TV he thought the suspect was a "good person, but no, he's not a good person."

According to the roommate, Garcia-Rodriguez had lived with the roommate for less than a month and was acting normally around when he allegedly killed their neighbor, the station reported.

The roommate said he didn't realize anything was wrong until Maria's uncle knocked on their door, searching for her.

Two days later, Garcia-Rodriguez told his roommate he was leaving town for a job. The roommate asked for his key back, but Garcia-Rodriguez said he was going to hold onto it.

He said, "It's not going to be long. I'm coming back. It's fine," KTRK-TV reported.

Pasadena police said they believe Garcia-Rodriguez left the critical piece of evidence behind at the murder scene.

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According to the medical examiner, the victim, Maria, died from asphyxiation from strangulation and she had been sexually assaulted.

Carmelo and Maria are from Guatemala and came to Texas about four years ago. They had been living in the apartment for three months. Maria’s mother is still living in Guatemala, according to KTRK.

Carmelo described his daughter, who just celebrated her 11th birthday a few weeks ago, as a quiet, good girl, KTRK reported.


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