Suspect charged with murder in Acres Homes case

September 24, 2009 9:53:36 AM PDT
Police think they've shut the door on the search for the Acres Homes rapist. LaMarques McWilliams is charged with five counts of aggravated sexual assault and murder. He made his first appearance in court overnight. McWilliams, 33, was in probable cause court downtown, where a judge informed him of the charges for which he is in custody.

One of the rapes McWilliams is charged with is the rape of a 13-year-old girl back in 1996. There were four counts read in court overnight. One was aggravated sexual assault of a child, a murder charge and two cases of aggravated sexual assault. He's behind bars, held on $100,000 bond for each charge.

We're hearing details of how police caught him and how he was reportedly hiding in plain sight as an employee at a popular east Houston restaurant.

At the New Jerusalem Ministries Church in Acres Homes, prayers have been answered.

The thought of a serial rapist and killer roaming the streets has kept some of Pastor LC Rogers' elderly members away from night services. He's hopeful new charges in the cases that have haunted the area for three years will change that.

"People are very much relieved the fact that they caught someone," said Pastor Rogers.

At a news conference outside the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, Houston's police chief announced McWilliams is the guy they've been after.

"This is a case where we did not give up," said Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt. "We did not give up on the community. We did not give up on the victims nor their families."

As we first reported last week, detectives say LaMarques McWilliams, 33, has now been officially tied by DNA to the murder of Pamela Goss, the death of Jasmine Clark and possibly four other unsolved deaths in Acres Homes since 2006. What's more, he's been charged with a total of five counts of aggravated sexual assault, but police think he raped as many as 18 women. According to them, their search is over.

"I feel comfortable he's our primary suspect at this time," said Lt. Ron Walker of the Houston Police Department. "Based on the method that he uses in the sexual assaults, locations the females were found in, the descriptions given to us from various sexual assault victims that we think are connected."

McWilliams is married with two children from a previous relationship. He lived at a north side apartment complex and at the time of some of the rapes, worked as a waiter at an eastside Pappasitos restaurant.

One alleged victim told us he was still wearing his apron when he raped her.

His attorney says police have the wrong guy. McWilliams was going to school and trying to start his own trucking business.

"He was always doing a lot of different stuff. He was active. He's someone who can account for his time," said Eric Davis, attorney for McWilliams. "That they've cured the ails of Acres Homes with this one arrest, I think is questionable and I think it's a shame. I think it's an effort to discredit any possible defense Mr. McWilliams could have if he ever went to court."

But investigators say DNA doesn't lie. They believe McWilliams also resembles a composite sketch and his tattoo looks a lot like the one victims had described.

After years of digging, it was one call to the family of Pamela Goss that one officer will always remember.

"To be able to go to the entire family and give her closure. It was beautiful," said Officer Darcus Shorten. "I think that's the most uplifting part of this whole investigation is to be able to go to a mother and tell her we found the killer of her baby."

Houston police dedicated 15 investigators to these cases. They went through 100 possible suspects and made 12 arrests for other violent crimes during the course of their investigation.

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