Three people have been arrested in connection with the death of a 16-year-old girl, whose body was found in Liberty County, more than 50 miles from where she was last seen alive at work.
Kevin Rivera-Ortiz, 19; Joel Garcia-Martinez, 20; and Katherine Alvarez-Flores, 20, have been charged with murder. Alvarez-Flores was given an additional charge of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, according to a release from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.
Authorities said Alvarez-Flores, who is being held on a $1.5 million bond, was arrested a couple of days ago, while Rivera-Ortiz and Garcia-Martinez were arrested Tuesday in Houston. Rivera-Ortiz was also reported to be Rodriguez-Avila’s ex-boyfriend.
Emily Rodriguez-Avila was identified as the teenager who was found with a gunshot wound the morning of Sept. 4 on the side of County Road 3550, near County Road 5708, on the north end of the county.
The 16-year-old was last seen getting into a friend’s car as she left Niko Niko’s restaurant on I-10 and the Beltway the night before. Sources said a relative usually picked her up from work, but she told her relative that a friend was picking her up on Saturday. That was the last time anyone saw her alive.
Rodriguez-Avila’s body was found the following morning wearing a hairnet, shirt, and blue cap with the business name of “Niko’s” on them, the sheriff’s office initially said early in the investigation.
Staff at Niko Niko’s Greek and American Cafe near Beltway 8 confirmed earlier this month that Rodriguez-Avila was one of their employees. They declined to go on camera but said they are devastated by the news.
According to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, an investigation is ongoing to determine the motive behind Rodriguez-Avila’s murder.
EARLIER PRESS RELEASE FROM LCSO
An extensive murder investigation of 16-year-old Emily Rodriguez-Avila by Investigators has resulted in the arrest of Kevin Rivera-Ortiz, DOB 4/20/2003, Joel Garcia-Martinez, DOB 11/17/2001 and Katherine Alvarez-Flores, DOB 9/15/2002. All three have been charged with murder with an additional charge of Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence on Katherine Alvarez-Flores.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Capt. Billy Knox stressed the investigation was a joint effort of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers, Houston Police Department C.I.D, HPD Gang Unit, HPD SWAT and Homeland Security Gang Unit-South.
As the investigation progressed, Katherine Flores was arrested a few days ago on the Tampering charge while both Kevin Ortiz and Joel Martinez were arrested earlier today in Houston on the murder charges. One was arrested in South-West Houston while the other was arrested at his place of employment. All three have been placed in the Liberty County Jail.
The investigation is still on-going in an effort to determine a motive. There will be a joint press conference of all the investigative agencies involved at the Houston Police Department within the next few days. The date and time will be published as soon as it is confirmed.