I-Team: Murder in a private ‘paradise’ puzzles police, family

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by Courtney Zubowski / KHOU 11 News I-Team

khou.com

Posted on October 14, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 15 at 9:54 AM

HOUSTON -- A garden is full of life, but one garden, near a street named Enchanted Forest near W. Mount Houston and Antoine, is marked by death.

“I still feel like one day I want to go outside and him be there. See him watering it,” said Karina Cavazos, a 19-year-old whose father was murdered earlier this year. “For me, he was my hero.”

Karina’s father, Jose Cavazos Garza, spent hours in his garden every week. Now, he is not only known for his green thumb, but also as the victim of a murder that at first didn’t seem like a murder at all.

“To this point we still ask, ‘why, how,’ we have no answers,” said the grieving daughter.

It was June 23 around 10:30 at night. The entire Cavazos family was in the living room.

“He paused the TV and said. ‘I’ll be right back,’ like every night,” she explained.

And like every night, at the same time, the father of four went out front to water his plants.

But this night would be different. Cavazos Garza wouldn’t come back alive.

“He walked outside and he closed the door,” recalled Cavazos. “We heard like kind of like a loud bang and it startled us because it was loud.”

Karina said she rushed to the front door.

“My dad was laying on his back and like right there in front of us with a puddle of blood next to his head,” she described.

Karina’s father had high blood pressure. So when his teenage daughter saw him lying on the front porch, she thought he had fainted. The family called 911.

A neighborhood security camera caught it all as paramedics arrived on the scene, rushing to get him to the hospital. At the hospital, they got a surprise.

“The nurse told us that it was actually a bullet that had gone through his head,” she said.

Enter: Homicide detectives.

“I get to the scene and first I speak with the people that are in the house,” Harris County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Abraham Alanis told the KHOU 11 News I-Team.

He said the family initially thought this was a medical issue so they cleaned up the scene.

“There was no blood there even from falling down because his family thought he had just fainted,” the detective said.

Detectives now faced a challenge: There was no crime scene, no witnesses, plus it all happened in the dark.

But there is this.

“There had been robberies that night,” said Alanis.

They were robberies that happened in the Cavazos’ neighborhood. Some of the suspects are behind bars and investigators have talked to them.

KHOU: “Have you ruled out the people who were arrested for those robberies?”

Alanis: “No.”

But, investigators have never named them as suspects. Plus, while robbery was the motive in the other cases, nothing was taken from Jose.

“He had money on him. He had a lot of money actually, a lot of money in his wallet,” said the victim’s daughter. Karina just can’t understand it.

KHOU: “Did he have any enemies?”

Cavazos: “No.”

KHOU: “Any problems?”

Cavazos: “No.”

The question she struggles with is “Was her father killed just for the thrill?” So she tries to focus on his life by keeping up her father’s paradise while waiting for justice.

“I feel like I’m making him proud because he always wanted his garden to look that way,” said Cavazos.

The neighborhood surveillance video also captured the moments before the murder. However, detectives have asked the KHOU 11 News I-Team not to show that video to protect the integrity of their investigation.

If you have information about the murder, please call Crime Stoppers.

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