Illegal immigrant suspects in Texas girl’s murder were recently caught by Border Patrol, released into US

Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, Franklin Jose Pena Ramos charged with capital murder in death of Jocelyn Nungaray

The two men charged in the killing of a 12-year-old Houston girl who was found strangled to death in a creek this week are Venezuelan migrants who entered the United States illegally.

Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, were linked to the death of Jocelyn Nungaray and face capital murder charges, the Houston Police Department said Thursday. 

Pena Ramos illegally crossed into El Paso, Texas, in May, sources with the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to Fox News. He was caught by Border Patrol agents and was released into the U.S. with a Notice to Appear in court. 

Rangel Martinez also crossed illegally into El Paso in March and was caught by Border Patrol. He was released into the U.S. on an unknown basis. 


images of Jocelyn Nungaray

Jocelyn Nungaray, 12, was found strangled to death in a Houston creek this week. (Fox Houston courtesy of the Nungaray family)

Fox News Digital has reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information about the suspect's status but has not yet heard back.

"It's just an overwhelming sense of relief to know they're just not out there," Nungaray's mother, Alexis Nungaray, told Fox Houston.

Investigators used surveillance video to track the movements of Martinez and Ramos before and after the killing, Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope said. 

Earlier this week, Houston Mayor John Whitmire said Nungaray was at a convenience store and was talking to her 13-year-old boyfriend on the phone after sneaking out of her family's apartment. The boyfriend told investigators that he could hear Nungaray talking with two people. 

Martinez and Ramos started their evening at a restaurant together on Sunday night, police said.

They left the restaurant and walked southbound when they were spotted on camera, police said. They were later seen meeting with Nungaray and talking to her for a few minutes. Later, Rangel Martinez and Pena Ramos, along with Jocelyn, walked to a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Authorities this week released images taken from surveillance video from the 7-Eleven where Nungaray was last seen.  

Afterward, the three of them walked to a bridge, where investigators said Nungaray was murdered. Rangel Martinez and Pena Ramos then walked to the apartment they shared and left the girl's body behind, police said. Police believe the pair lived in the same apartment complex as Nungaray.


Video image of Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, and image of Jocelyn Nungaray

These video images show Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, and Jocelyn Nungaray. The men are charged in the death of the 12-year-old Houston girl. (Houston Police Department | Fox Houston Courtesy of the Nungaray family)

Alexis Nungaray said her daughter possibly saw the pair around but was not known to talk to strangers. 

"Maybe they were seen in the complex, but she normally wouldn't walk around," she told the news station.

The Harris County medical examiner reported that Jocelyn died as a result of strangulation. Authorities could not confirm if the girl was sexually assaulted.

Following the arrests, Whitmire said the court system has to do its job and ensure both suspects are tried in a timely manner.

Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope at a news conference

Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope is shown at a news conference talking about Nungaray's murder. (Houston Police Department)

"We're going to be watching you; the arrests have taken place, and the charges have been filed. Now, we want the justice system to do its job. If there was ever a circumstance where you do not give someone bail, this is it," he said.

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