LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas — Friends of a Houston girl murdered in Liberty County helped lead investigators to her killers, the sheriff's office said at a news conference Friday.
All three suspects have confessed and they remain in the Liberty County Jail, according to LCSO Capt. William Knox.
"It's an unfortunate situation, we have a 16-year-old girl that's not going home to her family, just violently murdered," Knox said at a news conference.
He said once they identified the victim as 16-year-old Emily Rodriguez-Avila, they began interviewing her friends and that's what eventually led them to the first suspect arrested.
After questioning 20-year-old Katherine Alvarez-Flores on Sept. 8, she was charged with tampering with evidence. Knox said she confessed to her role in the girl's death two days later and was charged with murder.
Her confession led to Kevin Rivera-Ortiz, 19, and Joel Garcia- Martinez, 20, who were arrested in Houston on Sept. 20 and also charged with murder.
Knox said Rivera-Ortiz still had the 9mm gun used to kill his ex-girlfriend and Garcia-Martinez had the vehicle they used.
According to Knox, they gave different stories about the motive for killing Rodriguez-Avila after picking her up at her job at a Montrose restaurant on Sept. 3. She was shot twice -- in the head and the side -- the next morning and dumped on the side of CR 3550 in Cleveland.
Knox said the ex-boyfriend has family in Liberty County and is familiar with the area so they believe that's why they drove there from Houston. He said the victim went with them willingly.
Rivera-Ortiz and Garcia-Martinez were here illegally, according to Knox. Rivera-Ortiz came here from El Salvador in 2018 and was wanted on a fugitive ICE warrant. Garcia-Martinez and the victim were both from Honduras.
None of the suspects had a criminal record but they are looking into whether they are involved in a gang.
The woman, who is also charged with tampering with evidence, is being held on a $1.5M bond. The other two are being held without bond.
Knox credited the Houston Police Department and the Texas Rangers for their help in this case.