DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A community is in shock after the body of a 5-year-old girl was found in an apartment complex in northeast Dallas on Sunday afternoon.

Police have taken the girl’s 17-year-old cousin Angel Lizandro Sanches-Zenteno into custody.  He became a suspect in the girl’s death after an eyewitness identified him as the last person seen with her.

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(credit: Dallas Police Department)

(credit: Dallas Police Department)

The family’s nightmare began when they asked police for help locating the missing girl. After nearly a three-hour search, authorities discovered the body of Katherine Alejandra Gonzalez in a vacant unit at the Sontera Palms Apartments, located along Royal Lane Near Abrams Road. Police have called this a murder investigation.

At a noon news conference on Monday, police did not identify any motive behind the murder and said Sanchez was not responsible for babysitting the girl.  According to police, the medical examiner has identified her cause of death as strangulation.

The news of the murder shocked those who live in the area.

“A 5-year-old is dead. That is so sad. That is so hurtful,” said neighbor Janicqua Washington. “That baby was innocent, didn’t know nothing.”

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Gonzalez and her family did not live in the apartment complex, but were frequent visitors.

Officials questioned a number of people, including several other young children. Neighbors said that they saw the girl riding on a tricycle shortly before her disappearance. Now, those same neighbors are worried about their own children. Before the arrest, some parents even stopped their kids from playing outside.

“My kids won’t be over here anymore, period,” said parent Omar Moran. “Whoever did it is still out there. This area is not safe at all.”

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