Houston Police: 2 Suspects Arrested for Murder of 12-Year-Old Girl

Rachel Acenas
By Rachel Acenas
June 20, 2024US News
Houston Police: 2 Suspects Arrested for Murder of 12-Year-Old Girl
Surveillance video images released by the Houston Police Department on June 20, 2024. (Houston Police Department)

Two suspects have been arrested in the death of a 12-year-old girl, the Houston Police Department announced Thursday.

Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 21, and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, were arrested and charged with capital murder, authorities said in a press conference Thursday.

The two suspects went to a restaurant together where they began their evening on Sunday, police said. They were later seen on surveillance camera talking to the victim, 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray.

The three walked together to a convenience store and then to a bridge at the creek where the child was raped and killed. The suspects left the scene and continued home to a nearby apartment complex, authorities said.

On Monday morning, a woman driving home from work made the disturbing discovery and alerted authorities. The body was found in a shallow creek in north Houston located within walking distance from the victim’s home.

The suspects were initially only considered “persons of interest” and were wanted for questioning by homicide detectives. Police previously asked for the public’s help in tracking down the pair as part of its investigation into the child’s death.

The two suspects are Venezuelan migrants who entered the United States illegally, reported Fox News.

Detectives believe the child snuck out of her house Sunday night after her mother witnessed her go to bed. After she realized the child was missing, her mother tracked her cell phone to a nearby skate park. She was never reported missing, according to authorities.

“We are looking into whatever communications that could have happened,” Lt. Stephen Hope said. “We’re not sure how that was, but we have reason to believe that the family did not know that she was leaving the house.”

The child was speaking to her 13-year-old boyfriend on the phone that night when he heard two people talking to her.

“It appears that [the boyfriend] last talked to her at a convenience store around midnight, heard her talking to two grown-ups,” Mayor John Whitmire said.

The Houston Police Department then released surveillance images of the two men Tuesday night from the 7-Eleven convenience store where she was last seen.

A GoFund Me page has been set up to help with the family with unexpected costs.

“[Joceyln’s] family was not prepared for such a loss and needed help to give her daughter the memorial she deserves, to honor her memory, and to say our last goodbyes,” the fundraising page states.

The site has so far raised more than $22,600.

“It makes me angry that we have dangerous criminals on the streets of Houston,” Houston Mayor John Whitmire said during a press conference.

“Too often we rearrest repeat violent offenders, but we won’t rest. This is an example of why public safety will continue to be our highest priority,” the mayor said.

The mayor previously pleaded that “all actors will be held accountable,” in the case, while also noting that both the Houston Police and Fire departments are “stretched thin” and need more staffing.