Police officers have recovered a knife from a storm drain not far from where 11-year-old Josue Flores was stabbed to death last week.
The knife was found Wednesday afternoon on North Main near Henry, a few blocks from the murder scene.
Officers were responding to a call from HISD police, who said they received a tip about the Flores case. A woman flagged down an HISD officer and told him she had seen what she thought was a knife in the gutter, according to HPD spokesman John Cannon.
"We're going to be very cautious with this because it may not have anything to do with the case," said Cannon. "It could be a knife from anywhere... it could have been down there for weeks."
He said the small knife "will be processed for any evidence that may or may not be on it."
Yolanda Arteaga’s word led investigators down a drain to pick up a pocket knife that could be connected to Josue's murder. Investigators won’t call it a major development. However, Arteaga is hopeful.
“Just like I told the officer, I’m not sure that it’s the same knife, but right now any evidence is good,” she said.
Arteaga was on her way home from work when she stopped near Hogan and North Main streets to buy treats for her children. As she walked looking down Arteaga noticed something shiny below a grate and immediately remembered the 11-year-old killed six blocks away.
Since then, police patrols here are non-stop while investigators chase down every lead, including Arteaga’s call.
“Whatever evidence we find, it’s best to report it so we can find the one who did it,” Arteaga said.
Witnesses in the area when the discovery was made say the knife is giving the community new hope that Houston Police may soon close in on a killer.
"It gives people hope, hope that they'll catch the killer before anything else happens," said Juan Cortes.
Cortes snapped a photo of the knife in the storm drain before police arrived. He says the woman did the right thing whether it's the murder weapon or not.
"We're not sure if it's the knife, but at least we're not leaving a stone unturned," said Cortes.
Cannon said they're going to interview the woman who spotted the knife. He said they also plan to look at surveillance cameras in the area where the knife was found.
"We're not getting people's hopes up or high or low," said Cannon. "We're going to be cautious with this."
HPD didn't offer a timetable as to how long it will take to determine whether there is a link to the Flores murder.
Josue was walking home from Marshall Middle School on Tuesday, May 17, when he was stabbed several times on Fulton near James. A neighbor said he found him bleeding on the sidewalk, but the little boy died before help arrived.
Hundreds of people turned out Tuesday for Josue's funeral.
Police arrested a suspect the next day, but later released him and dropped charges when surveillance showed he was in Pearland at the time of the murder.
The senseless murder has angered the community and police have received dozens of tips in the case.
If you have any information, please call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).