Only on ABC13: 911 call reveals emotional moment daughter found parents murdered inside home

Courtney Fischer Image
Thursday, May 17, 2018
World II veteran and wife murdered
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911 calls reveal the terrifying moments that the daughter of Luz and Antonio Rodriguez discovered them strangled and beaten inside their home.

CLEVELAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Thirteen years ago, a World War II veteran and his wife were murdered in their Cleveland home. To this day, it's the only double homicide to happen in that sleepy, fairly safe town of about 8,000 people.

Detectives chased leads and suspects across state lines, but the case was never solved. Now, for the first time, investigators have released the emotional 911 call to Eyewitness News. We also have never-before-seen surveillance video of one of the victims hours before he was killed.

It was April 14, 2005 when Carolina Tejada walked into her parents' home and saw her father, Antonio Rodriguez, bloody on the floor near the bathroom in their little white ranch house on Waco Street. She called 911.

"Yes, ma'am, can I have an ambulance at 103 Waco Street, please?" Tejada said, her voice shaky.

DISPATCH: "What's the problem, ma'am?"

TEJADA: "My mom and dad -- I just came in and they're all bruised up. My dad is on the floor bleeding. Please hurry."

DISPATCH: "Ma'am, I'm going to need you to calm down, okay? I know you're upset, but I need you to calm down for me."

TEJADA: "Oh my God!"

Tejada dropped the phone. She never finished that conversation. At that point, she realized her mother, Luz Rodriguez, wasn't responding either. Luz had been tucked into the couple's bed, almost as if the killer cared and wanted her to be comfortable.

Both Antonio and Luz had been strangled to death.

More than a decade has passed since that phone call. Tejada and two of her older sisters took Eyewitness News back into that home where the tragic memories flooded back. It's empty now, owned by someone else. But Tejada has no trouble retracing her steps from that morning.

"I walked down this way. My dad's shoes were kind of sticking out," Tejada said, pointing to the hallway. "I started screaming, 'Dad! Dad! Who did this to you?'"

Her father didn't respond. He was already gone.

Motive is a mystery for police. Antonio and Luz weren't robbed and they didn't have any enemies.

"They were always just friendly and open," said Detective James Primeaux with the Cleveland Police Department. "They were proud people. They just had a strong standing in the community. Everybody of all races just loved them."

Two hours after the murder, another call came into 911. It was from a man claiming he had just seen the killer.

DISPATCH: "911 Cleveland, what's your emergency?"

CALLER: "Uh, this is, uh, Troy Stevenson. I'm at Cleveland Square Apartments. And the description of the murder -- uh, whatever just happened -- blue jeans, white t-shirt, white, short blond hair. He's in C-12 right now at Cleveland Square Apartments. He just come and told me."

Police went to the apartment with bloodhounds. Detectives say the dogs picked up a scent that night, but the apartment was empty.

It took investigators years to track down the man who lived there. They eventually discovered he had an airtight alibi.

Dive into an interactive experience that tells the story of unsolved murder cases in the Houston area through videos, pictures and first-hand accounts of the families and detectives trying to solve them.

"You know, we all have bucket lists. I've been a police officer for 36 years. I have seen a lot of cases, a lot of offenses. I have a bucket list of cases and this one's at the top," Primeaux said.

Primeaux says he's read the case file cover to cover 20-30 times. He's read some of the supplements even more than that.

"I can tell you this. If I go to bed at night and I think about something that happened that day or this case comes across my mind when I go to bed, I don't go to sleep. I will lay there for hours working this thing through my head," Primeaux said.

"Our family needs closure," Tejada said.

Thirteen years of wondering and hoping have taken a toll on the Rodriguez family. Antonio and Luz had 13 children, all of them now grown.

"It's hard. I have aged so much," said Norma Mendoza, Tejada's sister.

All hope isn't lost. Detectives have the killer's DNA profile. It's been submitted to a state and national database. So far, there has been no match to anyone who has committed another crime.

"It's actually a couple of prints (fingerprints) on an item that was most certainly touched by the person that committed this crime," Primeaux said. "What it is and where it was found, it has to be. It's been compared to every family member that's been in and out of that house, doesn't match anybody."

Miles away from the bad memories on Waco Street, there's peace. Antonio and Luz share a tombstone in Houston's Veterans Memorial Cemetery. They're together in death like in life.

"They were so giving. You couldn't ask for better parents," Tejada said. "Our family has gone through a lot. We just want answers."

The family has raised the reward to $100,000. That money will be given to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the person who killed Antonio and Luz Rodriguez.