17-year-old charged with capital murder in death of grandmother shot during Memorial-area carjacking

Lileana Pearson Image
Thursday, March 16, 2023
Family of slain grandmother says they're grateful for arrest in case
While another suspect is still on the run, the recent arrest that's brought relief to the victim's family.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 17-year-old has been arrested and charged in the death of a 65-year-old grandmother during a carjacking in the Memorial area on Valentine's Day, according to court records.

Owen Leonardo Vilanova-Ardon is charged with capital murder. He was arrested on Tuesday.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Woman, 65, dies after being shot and dragged during carjacking in west Houston, police say

While Vilanova-Ardon's initial court appearance was waived on Wednesday morning, a judge did order him to be held without bond since he's charged with capital murder.

On Feb. 14, police responded to a shooting at an apartment complex in the 800 block of Yorkchester Drive just before 8 a.m.

Surveillance video released by Houston police last month shows the moment two suspects, who were described only as young males with medium complexions and wearing black bandanas, leave the apartment complex in a car that belonged to the victim, Judy Walters, after allegedly shooting her to death and then running her over.

When authorities arrived, they found Walters dead in the parking lot, according to HPD.

The day after she was killed, Walters' car was found in the abandoned Sugar Hill Golf Course's empty garage at 11996 Bissonnet St., which is about 10 miles away from where Walters died, according to police.

The emotion is still raw for Walters' family, but progress in the case is reassuring.

"Ultimately, everyone wants justice," Walters' son, Brandon, said. "There was some relief to know they had gotten somewhere and did what they said they would do."

This week, the family received the text they had been waiting for - that Vilanova-Ardon was one of the people seen in this video and had been arrested and charged for Walters' death.

"They need life (sentence). The max penalty they can get regardless of who it was because it's not like she was going to fight back, it's not like she knew it was coming," Walters' grandson, Hunter, who was living with her at the time, said.

"We want everyone involved to get the same penalty, the maximum penalty," Walters' daughter-in-law, Ashley, said.

Police said one other suspect is still being sought.

"They didn't want her money. They didn't want her purse. They didn't want her car. They didn't want her rings, jewelry, or laptop. They wanted her life and we want theirs," Brandon said.

Neither police or court documents have revealed a possible a motive at this time, officials said.

SEE ALSO: HPD releases surveillance footage of suspects in stolen vehicle after 65-year-old woman killed

Witnesses who spoke with ABC13 said they heard one gunshot and saw Walters being pulled out of her 2020 Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV.

New developments arose in the case a day after Walters was killed.

RELATED: Police find woman's stolen car after she was fatally shot, run over during carjacking, police say

After reviewing surveillance footage of the two suspects, who were wearing hoodies, it was determined that they might have waited for Walters for at least eight hours, leading police to believe she was targeted, investigators said.

"Judging by the video surveillance that we viewed and the fact that there are some family dynamics that we are certainly looking into, I don't believe this is random," Det. Dustin Crowder, with the Houston Police Department, told ABC13.

Police said the suspects might have been involved in some disagreement with Walters.

Walters' eldest son spoke to ABC13 and said he believed an argument that happened on Feb. 12 may have led to his mother's murder.

A GoFundMe was set up to help Walter's grandson, whom she was raising, and to assist with funeral expenses.

Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the wanted suspect is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or speak anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

READ MORE: Only on 13: Family argument took place 2 days before 65-year-old killed, son says

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