Teen suspect has been charged in the death of a South Houston High School student whose body was discovered in an abandoned apartment complex in South Houston.
The body of 15-year old Karen Perez was found Tuesday morning by volunteers with Texas Equusearch at the complex at the 1600 block of Avenue N near Shaver, just across the street from South Houston High School, where Perez, a student there, was last seen leaving on Friday, May 27.
The discovery was made at around 11 p.m. when Texas Equusearch Director Tim Miller located the victim’s body hidden in a cabinet underneath the kitchen sink of one of the complex’s 200 vacant units.
While the juvenile male suspect’s name has not been released, details emerged on Wednesday through court documents following the suspect’s appearance in juvenile court that morning, HCN news partner abc13 reported.
According to prosecutors, the suspect was Perez’ boyfriend and it was his father who tipped off police.
Court documents reveal that when Perez first went missing her family asked police to visit her boyfriend’s home. Documents further stated that as the boyfriend’s father was driving his son around to search for the missing teen, investigators said the juvenile male instructed his father to take him home because Perez was not alive. The father then contacted the South Houston PD.
Prosecutors also stated that text messages were found by police on the boyfriend’s phone and revealed that, through text, he told her to skip school and meet him at the tennis courts on Friday, May 27, and if she didn’t, the message included a threat that he would kill her and that her life would “end on bloods.”
On Wednesday, obtained surveillance footage showed Perez with two teen males at a nearby restaurant before she went missing, according to HCN news partner abc13.
One of the males in the video has been identified by Perez’s mother as the girl’s ex boyfriend. According to abc13, the three stay in the restaurant about 10 minutes before leaving. Six hours later, one of the males returns with his pants dirty and witnesses say he seemed upset and asked to borrow a phone saying there was an emergency.
Court documents revealed that prosecutors said the boyfriend’s cell phone captured audio of Perez’ struggle in the last moments of her life, as the suspect can be heard forcing her to engage in sex. While the video is blank, the suspect can be heard calling Perez by name and Perez telling him she did not want to have sex. Prosecutors say it was then that the suspect began to choke Perez as she can be heard screaming, “I don’t want to die.”
On Tuesday morning, members of Perez’ family had spoken to the media Tuesday across the street from the complex, but did not address any details of the case and instead and used their time instead to plead with officials to do something about the dilapidated building, which they say has been a concern to parents in the area for years.
“They don’t want to talk about Karen, they want to talk about the complaints that everyone has had about this apartment complex,” said Miller, on behalf of the family.
Those complaints included the lack of any action on the part of the owner to properly secure the building or turn it over to someone else. The building, they say, has become a haven for drugs and other illicit and potentially criminal behavior.
“I hope justice is served and I hope they tear this (building) down,” said Perez’ cousin, Janely Baldestino. “That’s what we’re going to do next and we’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen to another girl or a guy.”
The building has been vacant and in shambles for at least five years, according to Maria Perez, the victim’s aunt.
“Everybody knows when the kids skip (school) they come here to this property, and it’s a danger,” Perez continued. “I can’t believe nobody has done anything. You can tell they (students use it) for long periods because they have food, drinks, cigarettes, marijuana, condoms, clothes, everything…”
She blames the property owner for the condition of the building.
“He doesn’t want to sell the property but he doesn’t fix it,” she said. “Teenagers skip classes and they’re going to find some place to go.”
Family members and others pointed to the plywood boards now covering windows and doors. They say that such covering, including locks on gates, are recent.
“You can tell these boards and locks are new,” Perez said. “To me it looked like the ones they had before were not good. They put a lot of plywood on the windows because before, they could go easily inside.”
Baldestino said that area residents have consistently complained, but no action had been taken.
“We don’t want something else to happen to another child,” said Arturo Perez, the victim’s uncle. “This building is close to this school, that’s the main concern. This is a hazard.”
Maria Perez said that her family is dealing with their loss, and that all they can do now is to try and prevent another tragedy for another family.
“What happened to my niece is a great pain for us and we don’t have the words to describe it,” she said.
While the suspect is in custody and charged, it is a small consolation to their loss.
“I know God is watching right now, she was always the sweetest girl,” Baldestino said, fighting back tears.
No other suspects are thought to be involved in the homicide according to Captain Martin of the South Houston Police Department.
The discovery came after a weekend-long investigation led by the South Houston Police Department. They were assisted by Texas Equusearch and the Pasadena ISD Police Department, Captain Martin said.
Pasadena ISD released a statement late Tuesday afternoon:
“The South Houston High School Family and district administrators learned this morning that one of the ninth grade students, Karen Perez, has been found dead after being reported missing.
“Our deepest sympathy goes to Karen’s family. The student leaves behind a host of friends who will miss her greatly. As the South Houston High School family mourns the loss of this student, the campus and Pasadena ISD are doing everything we can to provide comfort and assistance to the family and to our students in this time of grief. The District has counselors available on the campus to address concerns from students.
Pasadena ISD Police has assisted the South Houston Police Department during the investigation.
Anyone with information related to the crime is urged to call the South Houston Police Department at 713-944-1910. Callers can remain anonymous