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Two illegal immigrants charged with murder of 12-year-old Houston girl

Houston Police Acting Chief Larry Satterwhite speaks during a press conference. Associated Press/Photo by Raquel Natalicchio/Houston Chronicle

Two illegal immigrants charged with murder of 12-year-old Houston girl

Houston law officials on Thursday arrested two men in connection with the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The body of Jocelyn Nungaray was in a shallow creek early Monday morning, police said. Investigators believed there was foul play in her death. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences later ruled her cause of death to be strangulation.

Who are the suspects? Houston Police said they had reached out to Homeland Security Investigations to look into the status of the suspects, Johan Jose Martinez Rangel, 22, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26. The two men had been living as roommates, police said.

The murder suspects are both Venezuelans who illegally entered the United States, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told WORLD. The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended Martinez near El Paso, Texas, on March 14. He was released the same day with a notice to appear in court, the ICE spokesman said. Pena was apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol on May 28 near El Paso and likewise was released the same day he was apprehended, the spokesman said.

What happened? Investigators believe that Nungaray snuck out of her home late Sunday night and while walking met Ramos and Martinez. The three walked together to a 7-Eleven store and then a bridge near where Nungaray was later found dead. The men then walked back to the apartment they shared, police said. The suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Nungaray’sbody was being examined to determine if she was sexually assaulted, police said. On Thursday, results were not yet available from the exam.

How did law enforcement find the suspects? Investigators reviewed security footage to piece together what happened and on Tuesday identified the men of people of interest. Martinez and Ramos were arrested on Thursday in their apartment near the bridge, and officials said they discovered more evidence at the apartment.

Dig deeper: Read Christina Grube’s report on an indictment in a similar murder case.

Elizabeth Moeller

Elizabeth Moeller is a breaking news intern for WORLD and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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