New mugshot shows 18-year-old accused of strangling 11-year-old neighbor to death in Pasadena

Meanwhile, a public viewing for 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez is being held at at Mundo Pentecostal Church on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023
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A bittersweet day for Maria Gonzalez family. As family and friends celebrated her life, the man accused of killing her returned to Harris County after fleeing the area.

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- A new mugshot shows an 18-year-old charged with the murder of an 11-year-old girl whose body was found by her father, under a bed at a Pasadena apartment complex.

The Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana shared the photo of Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez with ABC13 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, loved ones will say a final farewell at a public viewing for 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mundo Pentecostal Church on Wednesday. Her body will be sent to Guatemala, where she has family.

READ MORE: Family of 11-year-old found strangled in Pasadena to hold public viewing on Wednesday, Aug. 23

On Saturday, Aug. 12, Maria was found sexually assaulted and strangled in her family's apartment at 1004 Main St. Her father, Carmelo Gonzalez, found her body wrapped in a trash bag, inside a clothes hamper underneath her bed, according to Pasadena police.

Carmelo told investigators he left for work around 9:45 a.m. At about 10 a.m., he received a text from Maria that someone was knocking on their door. Police now believe that man was her neighbor, Garcia-Rodriguez.

One week later, Pasadena police confirmed that Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested in Louisiana by Shreveport police after sources say he made a full confession. Records show he was booked into the Caddo Parish Jail on Saturday, Aug. 19.

SEE ALSO: 18-year-old arrested after confessing to Pasadena 11-year-old's murder, sexual assault sources say

Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested in Louisiana and charged with capital murder a week after 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez was strangled.

Garcia-Rodriguez is awaiting extradition back to Texas, where he is expected to face a judge.

His roommate told ABC13 that Garcia-Rodriguez had lived with him for less than a month when he allegedly killed Maria.

On the morning of her death, when Maria stopped responding to her father, Carmelo sent his brother, who lives a few doors down, to check in.

Garcia-Rodriguez's roommate said he was acting normally that Saturday. The roommate did not realize anything was wrong until Maria's uncle knocked on his door, searching for her.

RELATED: Dad says daughter texted that someone was knocking on door before she was found dead in Pasadena

Police are ramping up their search after an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and murdered in Pasadena this weekend.

"He checked in the restroom, the closet, looking for her," he explained.

Two days later, Garcia-Rodriguez told his roommate he was leaving town for a job. When he was asked for his key, he said he was going to hold onto it.

Pasadena police believe Garcia-Rodriguez left his key at the scene of the murder. However, Pasadena Police Chief Jeff Bruegger said investigators didn't realize that key opened the door to his apartment until after he left town Monday.

In January, Garcia-Rodriguez, a Guatemalan national, self-surrendered to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in El Paso. He was released to his immigration sponsors in Louisiana. Bruegger said they live in the Baton Rouge area. At a Friday press conference, he told reporters the department's attempts to contact them had been unsuccessful.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Father finds 11-year-old daughter strangled to death under bed, Pasadena police say

Police say Maria Gonzalez was killed while her dad was at work. Now, her father said he won't rest until her killer is caught.