Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez

Pasadena Police/Twitter Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez and Maria Gonzalez

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez is the accused killer of 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez, according to police in Pasadena, Texas.

The child’s father discovered her strangled to death and hidden under her bed in the family’s apartment in Pasadena on August 12, 2023, according to a previous statement from Pasadena police, who said the child was raped.

Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said in a news conference that Garcia-Rodriguez, who is Guatemalan, was identified, initially as a person of interest, because of a key left at the crime scene. According to Bruegger, Garcia-Rodriguez is not in the country legally and was released by immigration officials, who apprehended him in El Paso, to sponsors in Louisiana in January. They were not named.

ABC-13 reported that Garcia-Rodriguez had confessed.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez Is In Custody for the Murder of Maria Gonzalez, Whose Father Found Her Dead Under Her Bed When He Returned Home From Work, Pasadena Police Say

In the news release, issued on August 19, 2023, Pasadena police wrote, “Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez has been captured and charges have been filed against him for the murder of Maria Gonzalez.”

Police wrote that the Harris County District Attorney’s office filed charges of capital murder against Garcia-Rodriguez, who was taken into custody by the Shreveport, Louisiana, Police Department.

Police released a photo of Garcia-Rodriguez from police body cam video, saying he had been interviewed by authorities. Police do have a DNA sample from the suspect, Bruegger said.

On Saturday, August 12, 2023, at approximately 3:07 p.m., the dispatch center received a call from “a male stating that his 11 year-old daughter was not breathing,” the earlier police press release says.

Responding officers found the child deceased. Detectives “determined that the victim had been found under a bed by her father after returning home from work,” the release says.

2. Police Say Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, Who Is Not in the Country Legally & Was in Pasadena for a Couple Weeks, Was Apprehended by Immigration Authorities in January & Released to Sponsors in Louisiana

maria gonzalez suspect

Pasadena PoliceMaria Gonzalez suspect

The suspect had only been at the apartment complex and in Pasadena for three to four weeks. He was living with roommates from Guatemala who did not know him very well, Bruegger said.

“I believe he is not here legally,” Bruegger said. He was in Louisiana before coming to Texas, Bruegger said.

The chief said the apartment where the suspect was staying is close to Maria’s apartment. He has no criminal history in the United States.

He was encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in January in the El Paso area, Bruegger said. “He was apprehended by CBP,” Bruegger said.

“He was released by immigration,” Bruegger said, adding that Garcia-Rodriguez was released to sponsors at that time in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

3. Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez Lived in the Same Apartment Complex as Maria Gonzalez, Police Wrote, Revealing That a ‘Single Key’ Was Evidence in the Homicide of the Child, Who Was Placed Inside a Laundry Basket

In a written update, police wrote that a “single key” was located inside Maria’s apartment and collected as evidence. Bruegger said the key was “crucial” to solving the case because it opened another apartment in the apartment complex.

“This key has since been processed by our crime scene investigators and was not found to open any doors at the victim’s residence,” the release says. “Our investigators also confirmed that the young girl’s body was found inside a plastic trash bag that was placed inside a laundry basket and concealed under a bed inside the home.”

When he left suddenly after the murder, his roommates, who had their keys, asked for his key back, but he did not have one to give them, Bruegger said. He said the suspect did not know them well.

Police identified 18-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez as a person of interest on August 18, 2023, writing that he “was residing at the same apartment complex where the victim was found but has since left.” Bruegger said the apartment complex’s maintenance staff were cooperative and aren’t believed to be involved.

4. Maria Gonzalez’s Dad Told Police That Maria Informed Him ‘Someone Was Knocking at the Front Door’

maria gonzalez, carmelo gonzalez

GoFundMe/TwitterCarmelo Gonzalez and Maria Gonzalez

According to police, the father, Carmelo Gonzalez, “left for work earlier that morning and had been in communication with Maria via cell phone.”

The last “communication he received from Maria was a message stating that someone was knocking at the front door,” the news release says. According to KHOU-TV, Carmelo Gonzalez says he told Maria not to answer the door, and she said she would not and would stay in bed.

The medical examiner determined the cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation, it adds. “Additional investigation determined that the victim was sexually assaulted,” the release says.

Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said Carmelo Gonzalez is not a suspect because he had an alibi, according to ABC13.

ABC13 reported that, according to the chief, the father and daughter had lived in the apartment for three months while the mother remains in Guatemala.

5. A GoFundMe Page Has Raised Money to Help Maria’s Family With Funeral Expenses

There is a GoFundMe page to help Maria’s family with funeral expenses.

It reads:

My name is April Aguirre I am a Crime victim advocate. I am creating this go fund me with permission of Carmelo Gonzalez. All funds will go to the Gonzalez family. This family is going through unimaginable pain. Carmelo found his 11-year-old daughter strangled to death under her bed on Saturday August the 12th. Pasadena police have ruled out Carmelo as a suspect. He is grieving and needing help with funeral expenses to return his daughter to Guatemala where her family is. Thousands of families come to the United States to fulfill the American dream, a dream that for Carmelo has turned into a nightmare. If you cannot donate, please pray for this family. This is a horrific crime, Pasadena police is still looking for leads. If you have any information please contact Crime stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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