Suspect arrested in rape, murder of 11-year-old Texas girl

Posted at 9:25 AM, August 21, 2023 and last updated 9:33 AM, August 21, 2023


PASADENA, Texas (Court TV) — An 18-year-old man has been taken into custody for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez.

On Aug. 19, Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana. He is now facing capital murder charges in Texas, said the Pasadena police.

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez arrest photo

This undated photo provided by the Pasadena Police Department shows Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, accused in the rape and murder of Maria Gonzalez. (Pasadena Police Department)

On Aug. 12, Maria’s father found her body underneath her bed wrapped in a trash bag and placed in a laundry basket. An autopsy revealed she had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted.

RELATED: No suspect after 11-year-old girl sexually assaulted, murdered in Texas

The girl had been home alone after Carmelo Gonzalez, 32, left for work that morning. Their last correspondence was a text message from Maria saying someone was knocking at the front door to their apartment.

Carmelo told his daughter not to answer the door, to which she agreed, but never replied again. He told KHOU-TV, “I called and called and called.”

Family members were sent to check on Maria when Carmelo didn’t receive any response, but they couldn’t locate the child. They told Carmelo that things seemed “out of place” at the home and he rushed home around 3 p.m., said Pasadena Police Chief Josh Brugger.

Police said Carmelo called 911 after finding his daughter. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Gonzalez family told the AP, “May he be burdened with the full weight of the law, for what he has done to my daughter.”