The tears still flow for the grieving Flores family, who cling on the memories of their beloved 11-year-old.
It’s been two years since Josue Flores was walking home from a school science club meeting in the Houston’s Near Northside neighborhood when someone stabbed him 20 times.
“I see sometimes little boys walking and they resemble my brother, so it kind of hits my heart when I see little boys like that,” said Josue’s older sister, Guadalupe.
Long after the funeral, the vigils and the immediate community outrage, police and prosecutors concede the case is at a standstill.
The motive? Unknown.
The murder weapon? Never found.
“It sits,” said Tom Berg, first assistant with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “At the moment, we’re stymied.”
The lead courtroom prosecutor on the case, Tiffany Dupree, also has come to grips with that reality.
“This is a sad situation but that’s where we are,” Dupree said.
Timeline: The case of Josue Flores
Since Josue’s death, the Houston Police Department arrested two different suspects, but later had to let both men go.
“We can’t go on mere suspicion,” Berg added. “That attempt has failed us twice in this case.”
It failed when the first suspect arrested, Che Calhoun, turned out to have a solid alibi. He was at a Pearland convenience store at the time of the murder.
With the second suspect, Andre Jackson, authorities displayed a great deal of confidence at the time of his arrest.
At a news conference after Jackson’s arrest in June 2016, former Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said, “We have the right man.”
Houston Police Lt. John McGalin said, “We have the right guy.”
“We do have the right person,” HPD Sgt. Tommy Ruland said.
But a year later, lab results quickly unraveled the case.
“The DNA evidence just kept falling apart,” Berg said. “We just could not get anything that was tied to (Jackson).”
Berg acknowledged the lack of DNA on Jackson was puzzling given the multiple stabbings and bloody murder scene.
Police were left with a circumstantial case against Jackson without any key forensic evidence. Investigators did gather several surveillance videos placing Jackson in the neighborhood the day of the murder; however, witnesses gave different descriptions of the man they saw near Josue just after the stabbing.
Court records show one witness said he was wearing a long black t-shirt and tan cargo pants. But another witness saw black pants and a white shirt. And yet another witness remembered a black muscle t-shirt and black pants.
“When we’re relying 100 percent on witness statements. We need those to be consistent and they weren’t,” Dupree said.
The prosecutor said that inconsistency equals reasonable doubt.
That doubt has created more pain in the Flores family.
“We didn’t want the false hope, we didn’t want any of that,” Guadalupe Flores said.
Her mother, Maria Flores, put it much more bluntly.
“Why did (prosecutors) lie to me? Why did they lie to me?” she said in Spanish. “Why did they tell me there was enough proof against him and he was the one.”
Those are tough questions for both prosecutors and police.
“Let’s just be real, police work isn’t easy,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “Some cases are tougher than others.”
But, Acevedo added, “our detectives still feel that they have the right suspect,” but maybe not all the right evidence.
Houston Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Josue’s killer. If you have any information, call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).
“We’re at a point right now that what we really need is—we need to touch somebody’s heart out there, because somebody knows something,” Acevedo said.