2 MEN ACCUSED OF STRANGLING 12-YEAR-OLD IN HOUSTON ARE CHARGED WITH CAPITAL MURDER

Two men have been charged with capital murder in the strangulation of a 12-year-old girl whose body was discovered in a shallow creek in north Houston.

Johan Jose Martinez-Rangel, 22, and Franklin Pena, 26, were charged Friday with capital murder of a child between 10 and 15 years old, according to authorities and court records.

Jocelyn Nungaray was found about 6:15 a.m. Monday, and the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences determined she died by strangulation, according to Houston police.

Officials on Thursday said they had been working nonstop to take whoever was responsible for Jocelyn's death off the streets. Surveillance video and witnesses led police to the arrests Thursday, officials said.

“The teams were out there, and they were scouring every potential video feed, and they were talking to everybody possible that might have seen something or heard something,” said Houston’s Acting Police Chief Larry Satterwhite. “Their hard work paid off because we were able to find video and … trace the movements of our suspects and … of Jocelyn … all the way to the point of where she was murdered and left in a bayou in the water.”

Tests would determine if the girl was sexually assaulted, Satterwhite said.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire said the case was horrifying.

“As the mayor, as a grandfather and a father — it doesn’t get any worse,” he said.

Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope said the suspects left a restaurant together Sunday night and were spotted on a surveillance camera. Officials said the men were later seen talking to Jocelyn, and the three walked together to a convenience store, where images were captured and later released to the public, police said.

The trio then walked to a bridge, where Jocelyn was killed, Hope said.

The suspects and Jocelyn spent a few hours together before she was killed, Hope said.

Martinez-Rangel and Pena were being held in the Harris County Jail Friday afternoon, according to John Donnelly, a spokesperson for the county’s district attorney’s office.

Martinez-Rangel and Pena were expected to make their first appearance in court Friday during a probable cause hearing before a magistrate in which prosecutors were going to request $1 million bond for each suspect, Donnelly said.

It was unclear late Friday if Martinez-Rangel and Pena had retained attorneys.

The suspects weren't eligible for the death penalty as of Friday afternoon, but that might change as their cases progress through the courts, Donnelly said.

Both suspects had immigration violation holds from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on their court records.

At Thursday’s news conference, authorities said to contact Homeland Security Investigations regarding questions about the suspects’ immigration statuses. No one with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or ICE were reached Friday for comment.

NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston reported Jocelyn's mother, Alexis Nungaray, said she had never seen the two men before. She didn't know if her daughter knew them and told the news station that they did not live at the complex where she and Jocelyn lived.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

2024-06-22T00:17:15Z dg43tfdfdgfd