Hours before a Houston woman’s family found her body in the trunk of her car Tuesday, her boyfriend was helping them search for her, police said. He was later charged with murder.
Ariel Cruz, 19, allegedly confessed to fatally shooting 21-year-old Idania Maria Campos Muñoz and hiding her body in her black Honda Civic, authorities said. According to a bail motion, investigators said Cruz told them he shot Campos because she had broken up with him.
Campos was last seen dropping her sisters off at school about 7 a.m. Tuesday, police said, and she spoke to her mother around 8:20 a.m. The family grew worried, however, when she stopped responding, and they tracked her phone to a neighborhood in southwest Houston, KTRK-TV reported. They found her car parked on a residential street with her phone and other belongings inside.
Her family called police, who left after taking a missing person report. Campos’ family remained, however, searching the area and questioning neighbors. At around 5:40 p.m., her father broke one of the windows of her car, popped the trunk and found her body, police said. Campos was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cruz was “consoling” the family during the search, relatives told the Houston TV station.
During those frantic hours, Jennifer Campos Muñoz, one of Campos’ four younger sisters, told KHOU-TV that Cruz hugged them and “told us that he really loved her.”
“He was lying. He knew where she was the whole entire time.”
It’s unclear whether Cruz was there when they discovered Campos’ body.
Police told KTRK reporters that Campos lived about 30 minutes from the neighborhood where they found her car. No shell casings were found at the scene, and police say they think Campos was killed somewhere else. An address listed for Cruz on court documents is about half a mile from where Campos’ car was parked.
Campos graduated from Lamar High School in Houston and was attending Houston Community College, family members said.
“I saw her every morning because she took us to school. I didn’t know that was going to be the last time,” her sister Alexandra told KHOU. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to her, and I just wish I could’ve told her and hugged her and said to her that I really loved her.”
Cruz is being held in Harris County Jail in Houston His bail has been set for $500,000. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for Thursday morning.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.