Fire destroys memorial set up for slain teen in city of South Houston

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The makeshift memorial to a slain teen burned overnight.

In late May, 15-year-old Karen Perez was found dead inside an abandoned apartment complex in the city of South Houston. Search crews found her body underneath a kitchen sink. Police charged her 15-year-old boyfriend with the crime.

VIDEO: Teen's rape and murder caught on cell phone
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Horrifying new details are coming to light about the sexual assault and murder of a teenage girl found dead in an abandoned apartment in South Houston.

Ever since, family and friends have kept up the memorial for Karen.

On Monday night at around 10pm, cell phone video captured by Eyewitness News viewer Ashley Montano showed the flames.

City of South Houston's Fire Marshall Charles Sluder told abc13 the fire does not appear suspicious in nature.

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The body of a teenager was found in South Houston after days of searching for a missing girl. Jeff Ehling reports.

"I was the first one who got on scene. You can see the structure there where the boards were burning. I was able to put that out with the fire extinguisher," said Sluder. "They had the little glass candles sitting on the bottom of that. That's what caused the boards to catch on fire. There was nothing suspicious about that. No accelerants or anything like that."

Karen's mother, Rocio Perez, and other family members returned to the memorial Tuesday afternoon to clean it up. They plan to ask city leaders to do something about the dilapidated property at 1600 Avenue N.

"We're doing this for Karen. We're doing this for the kids. We don't want nobody else to have to go through this. It's hard. There are no words to explain this. It's very hard," said Maria Perez. "We're trying to stay together and help my sister, you know. Every single day, it's worse. It's hard. We know she passed away. It's hard to believe she's not with us anymore."
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The body of a teenager was found in the search for 15-year-old Karen Perez. Jeff Ehling reports.

After much community pressure, the city's "Dangerous Buildings Committee" plans to meet at 6pm tonight inside the city of South Houston's Municipal Court at 1019 Dallas Street.

The Perez family said they want people to turn out and voice their outrage about the property.

Mayor Joe Soto declined to speak on-camera about the situation. He told abc13 he also wants a solution.

He stressed the legal system can make the process lengthy.
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