Texas law enforcement officials announced on Sunday that the alleged murderer of Kayla Gomez-Orozco is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was said to be one of the last people to see the 10-year-old before her disappearance following a church service at the Bullard First Assembly Church last week.
In a press release, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said Kayla’s body was found in a well next to a home rented by her relative four days after her disappearance.
“We assure you there will be no stone unturned as we enter the next phase of this investigation,” Smith said. “We will utilize all available assets at the local, state and federal level of law enforcement to see that justice is swift and thorough for Kayla and her family.”
According to East Texas Matters, Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was in the country illegally and had previously been deported for a violent crime in 2014. Zavala-Garcia was initially reported to be Kayla’s uncle, but family members later stated that Zavala-Garcia was a cousin who acted like an uncle.
Although Sheriff Smith declined to release the suspect’s name, The Tyler Tribune reports that Sheriff Smith confirmed that the suspect is being held in the Smith County Jail on an immigration detainer. Jail logs indicate a 24-year-old Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was booked into the jail on an immigration hold on Nov. 6
Sheriff Smith also said the murder suspect in custody was born in 1992 is a is relative of the girl. Zavala-Garcia’s birthday is listed as July 4, 1992, and family members have confirmed that he was Kayla’s cousin.
Law enforcement officials have yet to release a motive for the homicide.
On Sunday night, two local schools held vigils in remembrance of Kayla. East Texas Matters also reports that neighbors of the Gomez family have tied pink ribbons around their mailboxes as a “simple reminder that Kayla’s smile lives on.”