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Questions linger after DNA found at a nearby home days before Tomball family killed

State Sen. John Whitmire said he called for inmate transports to stop until a full investigation surrounding Gonzalo Lopez's escape is complete

HOUSTON — Many questions still linger after five family members were killed in East Texas last week.

Investigators have linked the crime to an escaped convict.

Sources told KHOU 11 News that there was DNA on a nearby house tied to the escaped convict, Gonzalo Lopez, and the break-in happened just days before the family members were killed.

RELATED: Coroner says grandpa, grandsons killed in Centerville had apparently been stabbed

Friends of the family and neighbors are wondering why that information was never shared.

The information came as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced it’s temporarily stopping inmate transports because of the investigation into what happened during Lopez's escape.

RELATED: TDCJ suspends inmate transport in wake of Gonzalo Lopez's escape

At Farney Elementary, in the Cy-Fair Independent School District, a community is mourning the five lives lost. Relatives of Mark Collins and his four grandsons spoke Sunday at Houston Northwest Church.

"God is still God and we're not. And there's a purpose in this, no doubt," relatives said.

After their deaths, questions remain.

"If Mr. Collins knew he (Lopez) was still in this area he would've likely ... I'm sure he would not have brought his grandsons up here," neighbor Toni Apodaca said.

Apodaca visited the memorial outside the Centerville ranch where the family was killed.

RELATED: Tomball community rallies around Collins family after quintuple murder

KHOU 11 News asked TDCJ if the information on the break-in that happened before the murders was shared. A spokesman said homes had been cleared and structures were identified numerous times throughout the manhunt, but ultimately referred us to the Texas Department of Public Safety to get clarity on what actually happened.

DPS told KHOU 11 News that no more information can be released because it’s an active investigation.

“This is a terrible, terrible wake up that security of inmate transportation is taken too lightly," Sen. John Whitmire, (D) Houston, said.

He chairs the Criminal Justice Committee and called for TDCJ to stop the transport of violent offenders until an investigation is complete.

“How he was able to get out of his handcuffs is obviously under very close review and then he had a weapon, so whoever patted him down made a huge mistake," Whitmire said.

If inmates must be transported, Whitmire asked for additional security. He wants at least three armed correction officers and a trailing vehicle filled with armed correction officers. Whitmire was told, in this case, there were only two correction officers.

Read TDCJ's full statement below:

"TDCJ has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures. If it becomes necessary to do a transport such as releasing or an emergency medical appointment, additional security measures will be implemented. The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have lead to the escape of Lopez."

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