Woman's brother finds her shot to death inside apartment in Spring Branch area, family tells ABC13

Shannon Ryan Image
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Woman found shot to death at Spring Branch-area apartment, HPD says
A woman was found shot to death inside her apartment at 1370 Afton Street in the Spring Branch area, according to police.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Authorities are searching for a murder suspect after a woman was found shot to death inside her home in the Spring Branch area northwest of Houston, according to police.

Houston police were called to 1370 Afton Street near Westview shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday for a person down call at an apartment complex. When officers arrived, they found a 39-year-old woman with multiple gunshot wounds.

Investigators said the suspect killed the woman, whose family members identified her as Bessy Ayala, and stole her car.

Ayala's cousin, Stefani Cruz, told Eyewitness News that she and other family members, including one of Ayala's four children, went to the apartment Sunday evening after not hearing from her for several hours.

When they entered the apartment, they saw signs of a struggle in the living room.

"The hallway going into the (bedroom), there was blood outside, and (her 12-year-old son) opened the door. He just ran outside," Cruz said.

After her son screamed, Ayala's brother found her dead on her bedroom floor with several gunshot wounds in the chest.

With Cruz translating, Ayala's mother said the murder has destroyed her.

"This is really hard. This is hard for a mother," Gladis Barrientos, Ayala's mother, said.

Barrientos said she raised her daughter on her own, and the two of them immigrated from Honduras. Barrientos said she came to the country in part because of her faith in the criminal justice system.

"It's not easy when somebody dies. They die because of something, but not when somebody gets killed like that," Cruz told Eyewitness News.

Cruz said the apartment complex contacted the family with surveillance video showing a man breaking through Ayala's window Sunday morning.

Barrientos has said she wants her daughter's killer to turn himself in, saying, "If he has the guts like a man to kill her daughter, have the guts to turn himself in."

Investigators don't have any leads on a suspect or suspects, but the family told ABC13 the missing vehicle is a blue Honda Accord "with butterflies."

If you know anything about this case, authorities urge you to contact the Houston Police Department's Homicide Division at (713) 308-3600 or speak anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

For more updates on this story, follow Shannon Ryan on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.