Pearland teen found dead
PEARLAND, Texas—The family of Josh Wilkerson, the 18-year-old high school student police say was murdered by a classmate on Tuesday, says the suspected killer is lying about his motive.
"Everything you hear, don’t judge a book by its cover," said Wilkerson’s uncle, John Crochet. "This guy is not human, so don’t believe what he’s saying."
Hermilo Vildo Moralez, 19, is charged with Wilkerson’s murder.
He told police he beat his classmate to death with a wooden rod after Wilkerson made a pass at him.
"There had been some accusations by this animal that some sexual advances were made. We have no reason to believe that would have ever happened. The bottom line is whatever happened, he didn’t deserve to die," said Crochet.
Wilkerson was reported missing Tuesday afternoon when his mother spotted his car abandoned in a shopping center parking lot in Pearland.
Moralez was initially taken into custody as a person of interest after police found him loitering near Wilkerson’s truck.
After several interviews, police said Moralez confessed to killing Wilkerson.
According to court documents, Moralez told investigators the victim made a pass at him after he gave Moralez a ride home from school.
Moralez said he and Wilkerson started fighting after that, and at some point during the fight, Moralez grabbed a wooden rod and hit Wilkerson with it several times.
"Josh was 103 pounds, 110 pounds max. Josh couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag," said Crochet.
Moralez told police after he hit Wilkerson, the teen didn’t move anymore.
Police believe Moralez then partially burned his classmate’s body and dumped it in a field near FM 518 and FM 521.
Wilkerson’s body was found Wednesday afternoon. Police said his hands and feet were bound.
Investigators said they found a large amount of blood on the back patio of Moralez’s father’s home, and they also located a bloody wooden rod nearby.
Moralez was being held in jail Friday without bond. He is also awaiting trial on an unrelated harassment charge.
Even with a suspect in custody, both police and Wilkerson’s family have alluded that there is much more behind the teen’s murder.
Police said they are looking into a bogus Facebook page purportedly belonging to Wilkerson that was set up after his death, but while Moralez was already in custody.
"We are following up on leads that we get and we are continuing to interview friends and acquaintances," said Pearland Police Lt. Onesimo Lopez.
Meanwhile, ICE officials on Friday placed a hold on Moralez, who they claim is in the country illegally.
Wilkerson’s funeral arrangements were announced Friday afternoon.
A visitation is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 21 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Crowder Funeral Home in Pearland.
The funeral service will take place Monday, Nov. 22 at 11 a.m. at Sagemont Church.