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Texas girl sexually assaulted and strangled to death after texting father ‘someone was knocking on the door’

Maria Gonzalez and her father had moved into the apartment complex in Pasadena just three months ago

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 17 August 2023 16:21 BST
11-year-old girl found strangled to death in Pasadena

A Texas father is mourning the horrific death of his 11-year-old daughter after he found her body stuffed inside a basket under her bed.

Maria Gonzalez was sexually assaulted and strangled to death on Saturday just hours before her father Carmelo Gonzalez returned home from work, the Pasadena Police Department said during a press conference on Wednesday.

The minor had texted her father that someone was knocking on the door of the apartment the two shared but stopped responding when Mr Gonzalez told her that he would be there soon. Mr Gonzalez then asked a family member who lives nearby the complex to check on Maria, but he wasn’t able to find her.

“I left her alone in the apartment and she was sending voice notes saying that someone was on the door. I told her not to open the door and that I was leaving work,” an emotional Mr Gonzalez told Univision in Spanish.

Mr Gonzalez eventually found Maria’s remains wrapped inside two plastic bags and stuffed inside a basket placed under the girl’s bed. No arrests have been made as of Thursday, with law enforcement pleading with the public for information.

The medical examiner determined that Maria was sexually assaulted and that her cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation and blunt force head and neck trauma. Police have taken DNA samples from some residents in the apartment building.

“Whoever saw something just after 10 am on Saturday at that particular apartment, we’re asking them to come forward with the information they might have,” Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger said on Tuesday.

Mr Bruegger said the door was locked when family members first arrived searching for Maria. He said the entrance did not appear to have been forced.

Maria had immigrated to the US with her father four years ago and they had moved into their apartment just three months ago.

Maria Gonzalez, 11, was sexually abused and strangled to death before her father arrived home from work (Amador Saput/Facebook)

The little girl’s mother Ana Elizabeth Xitumul Saput and her little sister live in Guatemala. Speaking with Telemundo 47, Ms Saput said she was devastated and dealing with heart issues in addition to the heartbreak of losing her daughter.

“I want justice. I need her killer to turn himself in and I’m asking God that kind-hearted people help us bring our daughter’s remains back to Guatemala,” Ms Saput said.

Crime Stoppers is offering $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Maria’s killer. No suspects have been identified in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Pasadena Police detectives at 713-475-7803 or 713-475-7878.

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