Teens accused in mother's gruesome killing

September 2, 2008 3:36:59 PM PDT
A Houston teen and her boyfriend are behind bars, accused of killing the girl's own mother. The woman's body was found stuffed inside a suitcase.Gerson Reina, 19, did not answer our questions as Harris County Sheriff's investigators escorted him back to jail. He's charged in the murder of Maria Rodriguez, 55. Authorities say Reina is not cooperating in the investigation.

Rodriguez's body was found Sunday in a deserted east Harris County field, stuffed inside a suitcase. Authorities say it was Rodriguez's own daughter Priscila, 17, who is suspected in participating in the crime.

Lt. John Denholm with the Harris County Sheriff's Office said, "The daughter had been talking to the suspect about how her mom had treated her bad. The daughter had actually cut a hole in the window screen to let the killer into the house. He gave her some ear plugs and told her, 'You're gonna need these,' apparently so she couldn't hear her mother scream."

While the medical examiner has not ruled on an official cause of death, authorities believe Reina used rope to strangle Rodriguez inside her own east Houston home.

"I still cannot believe it. I would not believe it to this day that it would be planned by that girl," said neighbor Pam Vargas. "That girl didn't have that kind of mentality, or comprehension."

Neighbor Nyandra Soud said, "She was just very different, not your typical teenager, very quiet, you know. Always with her mother, they were always together, always going everywhere together."

Neighbors say Priscila was with them when they were searching for Rodriguez, who was reported missing on Friday.

"Priscila was looking as well, with all of us. She was participating with all the church members as far as looking for the mother, and the prayers and everything," said Vargas. "It was all a lie now."

Authorities say Reina, from Honduras, is in this country illegally. He remains in Harris County jail charged with murder. He has a court appearance scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Priscila Rodriguez is in jail, charged with abuse of a corpse. However, authorities expect those charges to be upgraded to murder.

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