Mother of 3 identified as woman found dead on side of the road in southeast Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Family members have identified the woman found dead inside a truck in southeast Houston.

"It's so tragic," said close family friend Wesley Hernandez. "One minute, she's here. The next, she's gone."

Maria Marquez Santiago, a mother of three, was found dead along La Porte Road near Lawndale Street and the East Loop on around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Authorities said her vehicle was parked just off the side of the road in a grassy area near some bushes.

Her family owns a granite business. On Wednesday, Santiago was working at a home under construction in Pearland.

She talked to her daughter shortly before noon.

"In the morning, I was going to go to work with her," said oldest daughter Kassandra Santiago. "But something came up and I couldn't go. My last phone call with her, she said, 'Take care of yourself and I'll see you this afternoon.'"

When Santiago didn't call back after lunchtime, family and friends began to worry.

"There was a brief (phone) pickup around 2:05 and it was just clatter, and the phone hung up on its own," said Hernandez, who promptly jumped into his car and went searching.

When Hernandez couldn't find Santiago in Pearland, he filed a missing persons report and tracked her cellphone to an apartment complex near the location where her vehicle was found.

Authorities have found surveillance video from a nearby business. Family members say the video shows a man ditching the car and jumping out.

No one is under arrest.

Follow Miya Shay on Twitter and Facebook.
Follow Courtney Fischer on Twitter and Facebook.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.