Dallas police have released the name of a suspect, wanted in the murder of a 20-year-old Fort Worth woman, whose body was found Saturday in a burned car that had been doused in gasoline.
Alexus Garcia’s body was found in a green Fiat by firefighters and police before 8 a.m. on Saturday, KXAS News reports. The car was discovered in a field near Interstae 35E.
According to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office, she had been strangled and suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
Police said Monday they are now searching for 26-year-old Manuel Rocha Jr. and that a capital murder warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Police said in an arrest affidavit that Garcia had sent a text message from Rocha’s Richardson address at 2:15 a.m. Saturday. The text was accompanied by a map showing Garcia’s location, and was sent to person identified only as a “witness” in the affidavit, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.
“They talked about her safety, and she went inside the house,” the affidavit indicates.
Garcia sent a few more texts to the unnamed witness but those stopped at 4:47 a.m., according to the affidavit.
In addition to the texts, police say, they also have surveillance footage from a neighbor’s home showing Garcia arriving at Rocha’s house in a green Fiat. That same video footage is said, by police, to show Rocha entering and exiting his home and putting something in the back of the Fiat and driving away, according to The Dallas Morning News. Garcia is never seen in the video leaving the home.
Police also said they have spoken to witnesses who say they saw a man, matching Rocha’s description, running away from the burning Fiat, before it was found near Interstate 35E.
Police said the car was likely intentionally set on fire and had been doused in gasoline. Rocha’s ID was also reportedly found inside the vehicle.
Authorities said they searched Rocha’s Richardson home and spoke to family members there.
The family reportedly told police that Rocha was there when they went to bed around midnight but he was gone when they woke up that morning and heard that he had not reported to work Saturday.
The family also told police that Rocha “meets with prostitutes,” according to the affidavit.
Rocha reportedly has had many run-ins with the law before, including multiples charges of evading arrest, drug possession and assault.
Chrissie Corey, Garcia’s mother, told The Morning News that the Fiat was not her daughter’s, but suspects she knows who the car's owner is.
She said she had no idea what Garcia was doing at Rocha’s home early Saturday morning but did say, “My daughter was not a prostitute.”
Garcia’s stepfather, Frank Corey, told KXAS that he wants police to find Rocha.
“I hope they find him. I hope justice prevails and he gets what he's got coming to him,” he said. “She's a beautiful baby and she didn't deserve this.”
Rocha is described by police as Hispanic, 5-feet-9, 175 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Members from Rocha’s family declined to talk to KXAS.
Photo Credit: Submitted photos via The Dallas Morning News