Police Arrest Migrant Teen In Connection With Murder, Rape Of 11-Year-Old Girl

[Screenshot/YouTube/KHOU 11]

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Law enforcement officials in Louisiana arrested a suspect Saturday in the murder of an 11-year-old Texas girl. Her body was found stuffed in a laundry basket underneath her bed by her father Aug. 12.

Juan Carlos Garcia Rodriguez, 18, was apprehended Saturday by officers with the Shreveport Police Department after being named as a person of interest in the rape and murder of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez Xitumul, KHOU News reported.

Maria was found hidden underneath the bed of her bedroom, apparently strangled and suffering from blunt force trauma to the back of her head and neck. Police confirmed at a Saturday press conference she had been stuffed into a trash bag and hidden in a clothes hamper placed under her bed. Further investigation revealed she had also been sexually assaulted.

Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger revealed that on the day Maria was found dead, investigators interviewed and collected DNA evidence from Garcia-Rodriguez, though he wasn’t considered a suspect at the time. Bruegger told KHOU News the vital piece of evidence tying Garcia-Rodriguez to the girl’s murder was a key to his apartment found in the victim’s home. Though Garcia-Rodriguez shared the apartment with two other individuals, they reportedly had their keys while Garcia-Rodriguez didn’t, Bruegger explained.

Garcia-Rodriguez, a migrant from Guatemala who entered the U.S. illegally in January, was released to sponsors in Baton Rouge by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. His sponsors in Louisiana reportedly contacted their connections in Pasadena on behalf of Garcia-Rodriguez to find him a place to work and live. This happened to be in the same apartment complex at the victim, Bruegger told the outlet. (RELATED: ‘They Came From Mexico’: Alabama Murder, Kidnapping Suspect Was In The US Illegally)

“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,” Maria’s family said in a statement, per KHOU News.

“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,” the statement continued.

Police stated that once Garcia-Rodriguez is extradited to Texas, he will be charged with capital murder, according to the outlet.