Karla Jackelin Morales is a Houston woman accused of taking part in a brutal MS-13 execution who authorities say cut off her ankle monitor and fled while free on bond. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office said on February 9, 2022, that a reward has been offered for any information leading to Morales’ capture.
Morales is accused of luring 24-year-old Jose Villanueva to a field in Spring, Texas, where he was hacked and shot to death by machete-wielding MS-13 gang members, prosecutors said. The killing occurred in 2018 and five suspects have been convicted in the case, authorities said. A $5,000 reward has been offered by the Houston Crime Stoppers, the prosecutor’s office said.
Morales, 20, was charged with murder in 2018 and released on $60,000 bail. Her trial was set to begin in October 2021, but Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Morales slipped out of her ankle bracelet and fled, jumping bond right before a hearing. Her whereabouts are unknown, the district attorney said. Ogg’s office added in the press release, “Five gang members who slaughtered Villanueva have already been convicted and sentenced to prison. Morales is the last to face trial.”
Morales lives on Antoine Drive in Houston, according to court records. “She helped plan and plot this vicious execution, and somebody out there knows where she is hiding,” Ogg said in a statement. “You can do the right thing by helping deliver justice for Jose’s family, and you can collect a reward for your efforts.”
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Morales Told the Victim They Were Going to Smoke Marijuana to Celebrate His Birthday, but MS-13 Gang Members Angry Over ‘Disparaging’ Remarks He Made During a Rap Battle, Were Waiting, Prosecutors Say
Morales is accused of luring the victim, Jose Villanueva, to his death on July 29, 2018, the prosecutor’s office said. According to investigators, Morales, then 17, invited Villanueva to smoke marijuana with her in a field about 500 feet away from Lewis Elementary School in Spring, telling him it was a “belated birthday gift.”
“Once he got there, several MS-13 members hacked him with machetes, and then, as he tried to crawl away, shot him repeatedly with a handgun,” the district attorney’s office said. “Villanueva had been hiding from the gang members, who were searching for him for allegedly disparaging the gang in a rap-music battle. In a scheme that was planned for weeks, Morales delivered Villanueva into the hands of his attackers. His wracked and decomposing remains were found days later.”
After Francisco Amadeo Flores-Salazar, a 21-year-old known as “Psycho,” pleaded guilty in the Villanueva murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison on October 18, 2021, Ogg said in a statement, “There is a culture of violence within these gangs that leads to indiscriminate killing and puts all of us in danger. This was a premeditated and cold-blooded murder, not some crime of passion, and the killers deserve to spend decades in prison.” Morales fled two days later, the prosecutor’s office said.
Mario Guevara, Oscar Lozano-Aparicio, Francisco Ancheta-Aquino and Henry Saravia-Lovo have also been convicted in connection to Villanueva’s murder, according to court documents. Morales was indicted by a Harris County grand jury on charges of murder and engaging in organized criminal activity in July 2021, according to court recods.
“The case is being prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office’s Gangs and Organized Crime Division. It was investigated by the Houston Police Department’s Gangs Division,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Morales Was Born in California & Has Family in Central America, Including Honduras & El Salvador, but Is Believed to Still Be in the Houston Area, the DA Says
Morales, “was born in California but has family in Central America, including Honduras and El Salvador. Authorities believe she may still be in the Houston area,” the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in a February 9 statement. The district attorney’s office said in a press release, “Authorities had hoped to capture Morales in recent weeks but are now asking for the public’s help.”
According to the prosecutor’s office, “Morales goes by the nicknames ‘Cherry,’ ‘Karlita,’ ‘Missy,’ and ‘Foxy.’ She is 5 feet tall with a heavy build. She has black hair and brown eyes, as well as tattoos, including a large one on her upper left chest that reads ‘Alicia.’ The DA’s office said Morales cut off her ankle bracelet, which included a GPS tracking device, on October 20, 2021, and absconded. Her trial was set to begin on October 25. An additional charge of bond jumping has been filed against her.
“Back when Morales was charged, prosecutors asked a magistrate judge to set her bond at $250,000. The judge instead set it at $100,000. A district court judge later lowered the bond to $60,000 and waived the defendant’s fees for an ankle monitor. She failed to show up for a hearing days before her trial was to begin and hasn’t been seen since,” Ogg’s office said in the press release.
“Crime Stoppers of Houston is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to her capture. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS,” Ogg’s office said. Her office said, “authorities will not ask the immigration status of potential tipsters, and they can in fact remain anonymous, even when they get paid.”
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