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Manhunt underway after Pasadena girl found dead inside her home, police say

There are no suspects in custody. Pasadena police are asking anyone with information on this case to give them a call.

PASADENA, Texas — An 11-year-old Pasadena girl was sexually assaulted and strangled at her home Saturday while her dad was at work, police said.

She has been identified as Maria Gonzalez from Guatemala. As of Tuesday, no arrests have been made.

Police said they were called to an apartment complex on Main Street near Harris Avenue at about 3 p.m. when Maria's father, Carmelo Gonzalez, called 911. He came home from work and found his daughter's body wrapped in a trash bag and stuffed in a laundry basket that was put beneath her bed.

Carmelo Gonzalez told police he had left for work at about 9:45 a.m., leaving his daughter home alone. A little later, he got a message from his daughter saying there was someone knocking at the front door.

Carmelo Gonzalez said he sent her a message back, telling her not to open the door. She said she wouldn't and that she would stay in her bed. After that, Carmelo Gonzalez never heard from Maria again, said Pasadena Police Chief Josh Brugger. 

"I called and called and called," Carmelo Gonzalez said.

Brugger said that at about 1 p.m., Carmelo Gonzalez contacted family members who stayed in the same apartment complex and asked them to check on Maria. Maria's aunt and uncle both went to look for her but said they couldn't find her inside the apartment.

Police said Carmelo Gonzalez got off work and made it home shortly after 3 p.m. That's when he found his daughter's body wrapped in a trash bag and stuffed in a laundry basket that was put underneath her bed. He called 911 and when paramedics arrived on the scene, they provided medical aid to Maria before pronouncing her dead.

A medical examiner confirmed Monday that Maria's cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation. It was also determined that Maria was sexually assaulted.

Police said Carmelo Gonzalez is not considered a suspect in this case because his alibi checks out.

Investigators are combing through physical and digital evidence to find out who's responsible for Maria's death. Police said there was no forced entry into the home and nothing was stolen.

Anyone who knows anything about this case is urged to call Detective M. Quintanilla at 713-475-7803 or Detective S. Mata at 713-475-7878.

"Somebody had to have seen something and that's what we're asking for," said Chief Brugger. "Whoever saw something around 10 a.m. at that apartment, we're asking them to come forward with any information they might have."

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for tips that lead to the arrest of Maria's killer. To be eligible for a reward, call 713-222-8477. You can also submit tips online or through the Crime Stoppers mobile app. Only tips and calls directly to Crime Stoppers are anonymous and eligible for a cash reward. 

Who was Maria Gonzalez?

Carmelo Gonzalez described his daughter as a good, quiet girl.

“She was a sweet little girl, little angel," a neighbor said.

She just celebrated her 11th birthday a few weeks ago. Neighbors threw her a party.

Carmelo Gonzalez and Maria had come to the U.S. from Guatemala four years ago and had only been living at the apartment complex for about three months. Police said Maria's mother is in Guatemala and in fact, most of the residents who live in the apartment complex on Main Street are from Guatemala.

Police said they're trying to get all of the neighbors in the apartment complex to cooperate with the investigation.

A GoFundMe has been created to help this father lay his daughter to rest.

Credit: KHOU

Watch the latest update from police in the video below:

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