CARROLLTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The man who police had previously called a “person of interest” been arrested and charged with killing a 10-year-old Oklahoma City girl and dumping her body behind a home this weekend.
Jose Sifuentes is accused of stabbing and killing 10-year-old Jasmen Gonzalez. Since Sifuentes was in the country illegally, officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been detaining him as authorities conducted an investigation into the girl’s death.
Jasmen had come with her family from Oklahoma City and was visiting relatives at a Carrollton apartment complex, located in the 1300 block of Walnut Street. Investigators said Jasmen had been at a family gathering on Saturday evening, and that she had gone missing just before midnight.
At a Tuesday morning press conference Carrollton Police Department Lieutenant Doug Mitchell said, “Based on the interviews of the people that were in that apartment and the physical evidence that we have gathered it led to this individual [Sifuentes] as the suspect. And we believe that we’ve established probable cause. A judge in Dallas County believes that we have probable cause, so we asked for an arrest warrant and were granted one.”
Lt. Mitchell also said that to his knowledge Sifuentes, whose common-law-wife is Jasmen’s cousin, had not confessed to the murder but had been “evasive” with authorities.
When asked why the 23-year-old suspect had not been charged with capital murder Lt. Mitchell said, “The charge that he is charged with is the best charge for the evidence that we currently have.”
Among other things, charging Sifuentes with capital murder would have required proof of premeditation and made the death penalty an eligible punishment for the crime.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office on Monday confirmed that the girl died from a stab wound to the chest, and ruled the death a homicide. Concerning whether or not the girl had been sexually assaulted Lt. Mitchell said, “A lot of evidence still has to be analyzed and to my knowledge that determination has not been made.”
According to police documents, Jasmen was found in a manner consistent with sexual assault.
♦♦♦ Click below to view raw video of Sifuentes being transported to the Dallas County Jail ♦♦♦
Sifuentes allegedly had gone to the family gathering in Carrollton, as a guest of anther Gonzalez relative, and met Jasmen there.
Police now say after the family function, Sifuentes took Jasmen from the bedroom where she was sleeping and left through the rooms’ back door.
Her body was not found until Sunday afternoon, less than a third of a mile away from the apartment.
Sifuentes was among several people at the family party who were questioned. “We did 12 interviews of people that were at this gathering and he just,” stated Mitchell. “I can’t give you all the details.”
Mitchell said that he did not have any attorney information for Sifuentes.
According to the warrant, a canine unit detected the odor of decaying human tissue near an SUV driven by Sifuentes. “I know that there was a weapon found in the SUV,” said Mitchell. “There’s things in there that we believe to be blood.”
Police have also executed searches at two Carrollton homes and three vehicles all believed to have ties in the girl’s abduction.
Lieutenant Mitchell said the murder of Jasmen Gonzalez was truly shocking. “I think that anytime a 10-year-old child is murdered it’s heinous. I don’t know anyway to describe it. I know that it has affected our community. I know that that neighborhood has been shaken.”
In addition to family members and party attendees, police initially questioned all of the 82 registered sex offenders living in Carrollton, but do not believe that any of them were involved in this case. “There’s nothing to indicate at this time… other than this individual acted alone,” said Mitchell. “We’re doing everything we can to reassure our citizens that they are safe, that this was not just some random act, that there is no predator out preying on children.”
As for the prosecution of Jose Sifuentes for murder, Lt. Mitchell said he feels good about the case and, “We still have a lot of work to do with this. It’s gonna take several days, weeks to put all this together and present to the Dallas County District Attorney.”
Sifuentes does have a criminal history but all of the offenses were non-violent. According to Lt. Mitchell, Sifuentes had also previously been deported from the United States.
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