A 17-year-old undocumented immigrant was arrested on suspicion of strangling his 5-year-old cousin and leaving her body hanging in the closet of a vacant Dallas apartment last weekend.
Katherine Gonzalez’s body was found in a closet in a vacant Lake Highlands apartment Sunday afternoon.
Her cousin Angel Lizandro Sanches-Zenteno was arrested but denies the allegations.
Katherine’s parents say she was playing with a dog and her older cousin when she disappeared around noon on Sunday.
Initially Sanches-Zenteno reportedly lied to police and said he had no idea where his cousin was. Later he said he was merely “an accomplice” and that he and the girl were forced into the empty apartment at gunpoint by a man named “Carlos.”
He told police he was “forced to enter a closet and stay there for approximately 35 minutes,” according to police documents. From inside he heard a knocking sound, someone kicking and his cousin crying.
“I did not rape her,” he told detectives, according to the Dallas Morning News.
He claimed when he heard the apartment door close he left the closet and didn’t see the girl on his way out. When he went outside he says he saw neighbors looking for Katherine.
Her body was discovered at about 2:30 p.m.
The medical examiner ruled the initial cause of death was strangulation, Maj. Rob Sherwin said Monday.
Sanches-Zenteno was charged with capital murder of a child under six and his bail is set at $1 million.
Image screenshot: WFAA