Elizabeth Barraza, know as Liz, a fervent Star Wars fan remembered for her kind soul and charity work with sick children, was gunned down in her Houston-area driveway by a mysterious possibly robe-clad suspect as Barraza planned a rummage sale.
The suspect was caught on video, which you can watch later in this article.
Now authorities are asking for the public’s help in providing information about the suspect, who might be a female or male. Harris County, Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said authorities are seeking to get a “brutal killer” off the streets. Barraza’s emotional family and friends were also at the press conference.
“The woman gunned down outside her home in the 8600 block of Cedar Walk in Tomball on Friday morning has died from her wounds. Help our investigators find who killed 29-year-old Elizabeth Barraza. Call 713-274-9100 or @CrimeStopHOU at 713-222-TIPS,” the Harris County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter. There is an up to $20,000 reward in the case.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect Shot Barraza as She Set up a Rummage Sale to Pay for a 5th Anniversary Trip
Barraza, 29, was in her driveway around 6:55 a.m. on Friday, January 25, 2019. She was “setting up items in her driveway for a garage sale she had planned for later that morning,” said the sheriff. Authorities said she hadn’t publicized the garage sale much, but they did put out signs that morning.
“She was just hoping to sell a few things to make a little extra spending money for their 5th anniversary trip that they planned to leave on Sunday. In the early hours of the morning, minutes after (her husband) Sergio left for work, a coward drove up, approached my daughter, and forever changed our lives,” Barraza’s father, Bob Nuelle, said in a press conference. He described his daughter as “defenseless” when shot.
Authorities say Barraza was approached by an unidentified subject, possibly a female, who had stopped in a dark-colored pickup truck. The subject walked up the driveway, engaged Barraza in conversation, and then pointed a pistol at Barraza and shot her multiple times, the sheriff said. She was shot four times.
Barraza was taken to the hospital, but she succumbed to her injuries. The sheriff referred to the assailant as a “dangerous and callous killer.”
2. Authorities Say They Recovered Surveillance Video Showing the Suspect & Vehicle
Videos shows what appears to be the suspect and the suspect vehicle.
Michael Ritchie, the lead investigator with the case, said authorities received several tips in the investigation. “One thing I do want to bring to light again was the suspect vehicle,” he emphasized at the press conference.
Ritchie said the vehicle was a black four-door Nissan Frontier truck. “That’s one thing we know for sure,” said Ritchie. “It’s not a common vehicle that you see all the time.”
He said that authorities recovered numerous videos from homes and businesses. “It may be older, mid to late 2000s,” he said. The truck “also has some type of badge or tag number” near the tailgate, a possible model number on it, he said.
According to Ritchie, as far as the suspect, “it is possibly female. It is possibly male.” The quality of the video prevented authorities from being certain on that point.
3. Barraza’s Dad Described Her as a ‘Simple, Kind & Generous Person’
Nuelle, Barraza’s father, read a statement at the press conference.
“The family is very appreciative of the sheriff’s office and Mr. Ritchie for everything they’ve done for us,” he said. “We stand here before you today because our beautiful daughter was murdered.”
The emotional father described his daughter as “a simple, kind and generous person happily living an amazing life of service. She was blessed with an incredible marriage to an amazing man. She spent her adult life spreading love and cheer to all of those around her.”
He continued, referencing Liz’s husband: “Sergio Barraza and Liz. They were good people before they met. But they made each other better, and together they were awe inspiring.”
The dad said the couple had “converted a passion for Star Wars” to help sick children and adults through charity organizations. “They had so much fun together and brought laughter to those who met them, never once asking for anything in return,” Nuelle said. Specifically, she worked with local 501st Legion.
“We never imagined life without her,” the heartbroken father said, his voice quavering.
4. Barraza’s Husband Described Her ‘Big Heart’ & Called the Shooter ‘Monstrous’
Sergio Barraza, Liz’s husband, also spoke at the press conference, growing emotional.
“My wife Liz was an amazing person. A beautiful person with a kindness of soul. She had such a big heart,” Sergio Barraza said.
He said the last words they shared were “I love you.”
They “devoted so much time to charity. She helped kids in hospitals, and volunteered for community events,” Sergio said. He said she passed away in the same hospital where they had done so much volunteerism.
“I don’t understand how someone could do this to her,” he said, calling the person “monstrous.” He expressed that he couldn’t understand how his “innocent” wife could have died this way and added that he had to “trade our 5th anniversary for her funeral.”
“We need justice for Liz,” he said, his voice cracking. “I need justice for Liz. I loved her.”
5. The Motive Is Unclear & Barraza Was Remembered for Her Love of Star Wars
Why the suspect approached Barraza is not clear.
“There is no evidence of Ms. Barraza provoking the attack,” Ritchie said. He said the motive remains under investigation. It’s also not clear whether it was random or a targeted attack. Authorities don’t think anything was stolen.
“In my investigation, and in looking at Elizabeth and finding out a lot of information about her through different means, this woman from what I can see did not have a mean bone in her body. She treated everyone with respect. She was a loving person, and definitely this was not deserved,” Ritchie indicated.
Barraza was described as a “Harry Potter and Star Wars fan. In life, she sometimes channeled a Storm Trooper for charity and smiles,” reported ABC 13.
Family and friends held light sabers aloft at a vigil for Barraza, the television station reported.