$10 million bond set for 2nd suspect in murder of 12-year-old girl found in creek

According to prosecutors, they found evidence Johan Jose Martinez Rangel was searching for ways to leave the country on his phone.

Brandon Hamilton Image
Tuesday, June 25, 2024
2nd suspect in 12-year-old girl's murder receives $10 million bond
A judge set a $10 million bond for Johan Jose Martinez Rangel, a second suspect charged with murder in the death of 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- During a hearing Tuesday morning, a judge set a bond for the second suspect accused of murdering 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray, who was found dead in a creek in north Houston last week.

It comes a day after the same judge set a $10 million bond for the other capital murder suspect, 26-year-old Franklin Jose Pena Ramos.

The same bond amount was set for 22-year-old Johan Jose Martinez Rangel.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Judge sets $10M bail for 1 of the capital murder suspects accused of strangling 12-year-old girl

The suspects charged with capital murder in the strangling of 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray are due back in court this week.

On Tuesday, prosecutors revealed that law enforcement gained access to Martinez-Rangel's phone and found he had searched for ways to leave town.

"However, the big difference was that we have gotten into Martinez-Rangel's phone and found evidence that he was searching for ways to leave the country once his image was released to the media," prosecutor Megan Long told ABC13 following the hearing. "I am very pleased that the judge set bonds at that amount. I think it's sufficient to ensure the safety of the community."

Both suspects are placed under U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, holds. So even if they were able to post bond, they can't go anywhere.

According to the agency, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended Martinez near El Paso on March 14, but he was released that same day on an order of recognizance with a notice to appear.

U.S. Border Patrol arrested Pena on May 28, also near El Paso. On the same day he was apprehended, a judge also ordered Pena to appear in court later.

In court on Monday, prosecutors said when Jocelyn was found dead, she was partially clothed and had marks and scrapes on her neck consistent with being dragged.

RELATED: 2 suspects accused of strangling Jocelyn Nungaray waive right to appear in court, officials say

According to court officials, the two men waived their right to appear, but the judge proceeded with the court process, detailing new developments.

Investigators are still waiting on test results to determine if she was sexually assaulted.

Judge Hill described Pena's flight risk as "astronomical." That is, in part, because the state says both suspects --- who are from Venezuela and were in the country illegally -- tried to get money to leave town.

"She was a very special little girl that deserves her justice. I know she is going to make a difference in this world for all children, and now it's my job to make sure it continues to happen," Jocelyn's mother, Alexis Nungaray, said.

According to Texas law, because of Jocelyn's age, both men are not eligible for the death penalty.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said if sexual assault is found, that would make the case death penalty-eligible, and the state would then be able to ask for no bond.

Investigators said they believe Jocelyn snuck out of her home around 10 p.m. Sunday, June 16.

According to court documents, the two suspects asked her for directions after encountering her on Kuykendahl Road.

Court documents allege that the men then lured Jocelyn underneath a bridge, where they kept her for two hours. She was tied up, had her pants taken off, and was strangled, officials said.

SEE ALSO: 12-year-old girl tied up, pants taken off when she was strangled, records allege

Court paperwork revealing details about how Jocelyn Nungaray was allegedly lured near a creek before her death. The suspects were also revealed to be prior ICE detainees.

A bystander found her body floating in a creek shortly before 7 a.m. on June 17.

The state added that Jocelyn and the men were seen on video at about 12:57 a.m. on June 17 walking down by the bayou. At 3:04 a.m., only the two men emerged.

An autopsy confirmed her cause of death was strangulation.

The state said it interviewed witnesses who told them they saw the men at Ojos Locos hours before Jocelyn's murder.

According to another witness, Pena confessed he and Martinez did something bad after partying and were looking for money to leave town.

Both men worked construction and allegedly asked their boss for the funds after explaining what happened, the lead prosecutor told ABC13.

It was also revealed in court on Monday that Pena told authorities he tried to tell Martinez to stop, but then Martinez allegedly put his arm around Jocelyn's neck and covered her mouth.

After she died, Martinez allegedly tied her up and told Pena to put her body in the water to remove any DNA. Martinez also reportedly admitted to changing his beard to avoid attention and had a bite mark and scratches on his arm.

After days of investigation, authorities arrested the two men last Thursday at 13355 Northborough Drive, the Canfield Lakes Apartments.

"We look forward to continuing to work hard on this case and getting justice for Jocelyn," Long said.

RELATED: HPD believes 12-year-old girl may have snuck out of her home before being found dead in creek

Houston police are looking into the death of a girl whose body was found in a creek near West Rankin Monday morning.