DALLAS — Police have arrested the 17-year-old cousin in the death of a 5-year-old girl, whose body was found Sunday afternoon inside a vacant unit at a northeast Dallas apartment complex.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Maj. Rob Sherwin announced the arrest of Angel Lizandro Sanches-Zenteno, the cousin of 5-year-old Katherine Alejandra Gonzalez.
Sherwin said a medical examiner ruled Kathrine's initial cause of death as strangulation.
Authorities were first called to the Sontera Palms complex in the 9500 block of Royal Lane by the victim's aunt, who told police she had last seen the young girl playing with her siblings at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Neighbor Jenicqua Washington said she was shocked to see what was happening.Katherine's parents said she had been playing with a dog and an older cousin when she disappeared around noon. Residents helped police search for the child until her body was discovered in a vacant unit at about 2:30 p.m.
"When I got out of the shower, people were just screaming," she said. "This is right above me, and I looked back outside and they were just crying."
Police said Katherine didn't live at the Sontera Palms complex, but was there with her brothers and sisters under the care of their uncle while their parents were at work.
Authorities said they were led to Sanches-Zenteno by a witness, who reported seeing him with the child shortly before she vanished.
Sanches-Zenteno, the witness and family members were taken to Dallas police headquarters for questioning. Police didn't reveal what evidence led them to conclude the teen was responsible for her death.
Sherwin said the cousin lived in a separate apartment that was located in a building across from where the children were being cared for by their uncle. Katherine's body was found in a vacant unit located next door to Sanches-Zenteno's apartment.