Bond denied for man accused of dismembering girlfriend with chainsaw 5 years ago

Officials don't believe Maria Jimenez-Rodriguez is alive, though her remains were never found. She went missing on June 21, 2018.

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Friday, September 15, 2023
Bond denied for man accused of dismembering girlfriend with chainsaw
A judge ultimately denied bond for Erik Arcenaux. He's charged with murder and accused of dismembering Maria Jimenez-Rodriguez in 2018.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The search is finally over for a man accused of dismembering the body of a woman with a chainsaw in 2018.

Erik Arceneaux has been on the run for four years since he was charged in the death of the 29-year-old single mother.

In June 2018, Maria Jimenez-Rodriguez was reported missing after failing to show up for work. She was last seen dropping her daughter off with a babysitter. Although her body has never been found, in August 2019, Arceneaux was charged with her murder and has been on the run ever since.

Arcenaux is accused of chopping up Jimenez-Rodriguez's body with a chainsaw and disposing of it.

After managing to escape authorities for years, the 51-year-old was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offender Task Force in a Walmart parking lot in southeast Houston on Thursday, sources told ABC13. Records show he was booked into the Harris County jail Thursday afternoon.

Gloria Jimenez, the victim's sister, said she has never given up hope that her sister's accused killer would be caught.

"I was at work and I got the call and I started shaking," Jimenez said. "My heart started beating. It's an emotion I have been waiting for, for five years."

While police have not said what finally led them to the wanted suspect, Jimenez said she is just thankful he's behind bars.

"I understand it's a process to get someone on the run, but I am just happy he is in jail," Jimenez said. "That's all I can say."

PREVIOUS REPORT: Houston man wanted for 5 years for an allegedly dismembering girlfriend now in custody, records show

One of the most high-profile crimes in recent Houston memory may have come to a resolution with a big arrest five years in the making.

Initially, a $250,000 bond was set for Arcenaux, but a judge overruled that and has since denied bond.

At the time of her disappearance, police said Arcenaux and Jimenez-Rodriguez were dating. However, family members later said he was the victim's trainer and found letters from him asking to be more than friends.

The single mother was a paralegal working at the Milledge Law Firm, but on that day, she never arrived at work. Her co-workers told investigators they received strange text messages from her saying she would be late. But her co-workers questioned the legitimacy of those messages.

Later that evening, her truck was found a few streets away from her east Houston home.

As the investigation evolved, Arcenaux told police he hadn't seen Jimenez-Rodriguez that day, but cell phone data proved key in the investigation.

Investigators said cell phones belonging to Arcenaux and Jimenez-Rodriguez were tracked to the same locations on the day she went missing.

Arcenaux's phone was tracked to a Home Depot in northwest Houston, where surveillance video shows a man matching his description buying trash bags and a chainsaw, court documents allege.

Authorities reportedly found the receipt for the items, which was signed, "Erik Arcenaux." Records also show Jimenez-Rodriguez's phone was at the same location, but she was not seen on video.

Investigators searched Arcenaux's home, where they said they found blood evidence.

This is not the first time he has faced serious charges.

"In 2011, he had pleaded guilty to an aggravated assault-family member, where he held a gun to the head of a woman with whom he was dating at that time and threatened to kill her," prosecutors read in court.

Jimenez-Rodriguez's body has never been found, and family members hope this will bring them closer to getting justice.

"Finally, I get it," Jimenez said. "Now, the only thing I am praying is that he opens his heart and tells me where Maria is at."

ABC13 also spoke to Brenda Lopez, the former co-worker who received the text messages the day Jimenez-Rodriguez went missing.

"It was mixed feelings," Lopez said of the arrest. "I was excited. He finally has been found and her family can finally find out where her body is, because her body hasn't been found, and it's also reliving everything over again. Just hoping he confesses where she's at so her family can have some type of closure."