Community rallies around family of murdered Pasadena 11-year-old as search for her killer continues

Shannon Ryan Image
Friday, August 18, 2023
Foreign diplomats urge others to speak out on Pasadena girl’s murder
As detectives continue searching for an 11-year-old girl's killer, the community and the Consulate General of Guatemela in Houston, rallies around her father.

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- On Thursday, detectives were back at the small Pasadena apartment complex where an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and murdered on Saturday. They are still looking for her killer.

According to Pasadena Police Department's Chief Jeff Bruegger, Carmelo Gonzalez told officers that he left for work at about 9:45 a.m. Saturday. Just after 10 a.m., his daughter, Maria Gonzalez, texted him that someone was knocking on their door. Carmelo sent relatives over to check on his daughter. When they could not find her, he returned to the apartment. Bruegger said Carmelo found his daughter's body under her bed.

"This is unforgivable," Carmelo's co-worker, Azalia Castillo, told ABC13.

Castillo works with Carmelo at Wok D'Lite, a Chinese restaurant just a few minutes from his apartment. She said they work six days a week, 12 hours a day.

"We open at 10 a.m. We close at 10 p.m., and we're here just constantly," she added. "He was working, like everybody else, trying to survive."

Her voice cracked as she explained, "It was on a day that he could have been home, but he couldn't. He needed it."

On Thursday, detectives took Carmelo to the station to help connect him with victim's services - so he could begin making arrangements for his daughter's body. He wants to bring her home to Guatemala, where her mother and younger sister still live.

"It's expensive," Castillo said.

She's set up a small display in front of the store with a donation jar and Maria's photograph.

"(Wednesday), I had a gentleman come in, and he said that God sent him here," she cried. "We prayed, and he said God's going to send angels so that they're going to be able to find the person who did it."

Castillo also hopes Carmelo will also be able to put the money toward things like rent because he is currently too grief-stricken to work.

"I wish I could do more. I wish I could do more, but I have to work, so I have to be here," she said.

Next Saturday, Aug. 26, a plate sale, sponsored by Meat Planet, will also be held at 7130 Navigation Blvd.

"The family is, they're in their feelings right now. They're, you know, they're mourning, so they need a team of people to support them, to be behind them, to set up everything on the backside, so that's what we're here to do," Samuel Barraza of Meat Planet said.

On Thursday, April Aguirre helped Carmelo also put together a GoFundMe for funeral expenses. She told ABC13 she wanted to help because her own niece, Arelene Alvarez, was shot and killed.

"I know what this family is going through. We understand that there's a language barrier, and we are here to be that bridge," Aguirre said.

Aguirre also helped translate for Crime Stoppers. Andy Kahan said they are currently offering a $5,000 reward for information in the case.

Pasadena police said they have experienced some pushback from the community - with many afraid to speak up because of their immigration status.

"Don't be scared. Just talk to the local authorities, because they need your help," Mayra Cecilia Ruiz Prado, the Consulate General of Guatemala in Houston, said.

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