The murder of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez in Pasadena took a significant turn on August 19, 2023, with the arrest of Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez. Located in Shreveport, Louisiana, the 18-year-old is now facing capital murder charges. Maria's tragic death in her apartment had previously left many questions unanswered, but this arrest brings the community a step closer to justice.
The tragic discovery of Maria Gonzalez's lifeless body in her family's Pasadena apartment sent shockwaves throughout the community. Found by her devastated father, Carmelo Gonzalez, Maria had been sexually assaulted and strangled, her remains concealed in two plastic bags and placed inside a basket beneath her bed. The young girl had sent distressing voice notes to her father, mentioning someone knocking at their apartment door. Despite her father's advice not to open the door and his assurance of returning soon, Maria's messages ceased, leaving her father in a state of panic.
“Yesterday we held a press conference seeking the public's assistance in locating 18-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, the person of interest in the murder of Maria Gonzalez,” stated the Pasadena Police Department in their media release. The subsequent days saw the police working tirelessly, gathering evidence and information. Their efforts bore fruit when they obtained corroborating details implicating Garcia-Rodriguez in the heinous crime. The Harris County District Attorney's office accepted the capital murder charges, leading to the issuance of an arrest warrant for the 18-year-old.
Garcia-Rodriguez's arrest in Shreveport, Louisiana, marked a significant breakthrough in the case. The Pasadena Police Department had previously identified him as a person of interest, and his arrest was the culmination of their unwavering determination to bring Maria's alleged killer to justice. “Whoever saw something just after 10 am on Saturday at that particular apartment, we're asking them to come forward with the information they might have,” urged Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger in an earlier statement.
Maria and her father had immigrated to the US four years prior, seeking a better life. They had only recently moved into the Pasadena apartment three months before the tragedy. The young girl's mother, Ana Elizabeth Xitumul Saput, and her younger sister remain in Guatemala, grappling with the heartbreak of their loss from afar. “I want justice. I need her killer to turn himself in and I'm asking God that kind-hearted people help us bring our daughter's remains back to Guatemala,” expressed a distraught Ms. Saput.
The community's response has been overwhelming, with many rallying to support the Gonzalez family. Vigils have been held in Maria's memory, with attendees lighting candles and offering prayers for the young girl. The case has also seen the involvement of Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of any other individuals involved in Maria's murder.
The tragic events surrounding Maria Gonzalez's death have left an indelible mark on Pasadena. However, with Garcia-Rodriguez's arrest, there's a renewed sense of hope. The community, united in grief, looks forward to the day when justice is served, and Maria's memory is honored in the best possible way.