Horrific Crime in Houston: Two Men Charged with Capital Murder in 12-Year-Old's Death

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In a tragic case that has horrified the Houston community, two men have been charged with capital murder in the strangulation death of a 12-year-old girl.

Johan Jose Martinez-Rangel, 22, and Franklin Pena, 26, face charges of capital murder of a child between 10 and 15 years old. The young victim, Jocelyn Nungaray, was discovered in a shallow creek in north Houston early Monday morning.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences determined that Jocelyn died by strangulation. Houston police have worked tirelessly to bring those responsible for this heinous crime to justice.

Surveillance video and witness statements were crucial in leading authorities to the arrests of Martinez-Rangel and Pena on Thursday.

“The teams were out there, and they were scouring every potential video feed, and they were talking to everybody possible that might have seen something or heard something,” said Houston’s Acting Police Chief Larry Satterwhite.

“Their hard work paid off because we were able to find video and … trace the movements of our suspects and … of Jocelyn … all the way to the point of where she was murdered and left in a bayou in the water.”

Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope provided further details, explaining that the suspects left a restaurant together on Sunday night and were later seen interacting with Jocelyn.

According to the source, the three walked to a convenience store, where surveillance footage captured their movements.

The trio then walked to a bridge where Jocelyn was killed. The suspects and Jocelyn spent a few hours together before her tragic death.

Authorities are conducting tests to determine if Jocelyn was sexually assaulted, according to Acting Police Chief Satterwhite.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire expressed his horror at the case, stating, “As the mayor, as a grandfather and a father — it doesn’t get any worse.”

Martinez-Rangel and Pena were being held in the Harris County Jail as of Friday afternoon, according to John Donnelly, a spokesperson for the county’s district attorney’s office.

The suspects were expected to make their first court appearance Friday during a probable cause hearing. Prosecutors were planning to request a $1 million bond for each suspect.

As of Friday afternoon, the suspects were not eligible for the death penalty, but this could change as their cases progress through the courts.

Both men had immigration violation holds from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on their court records.

Authorities advised contacting Homeland Security Investigations for further details regarding the suspects’ immigration statuses.

Efforts to reach representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or ICE for comments on Friday were unsuccessful.

NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston reported that Jocelyn’s mother, Alexis Nungaray, said she had never seen the two men before and was unsure if her daughter knew them.

She confirmed that they did not live at the apartment complex where she and Jocelyn resided.

The case continues to develop, and the community remains in shock over the senseless loss of a young life.

Authorities urge anyone with additional information to come forward to assist in the ongoing investigation.

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