Surveillance photos show men walking with girl moments before her murder; 2 charged, police say

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Thursday, June 20, 2024
12-year-old found dead in creek was caught with wrong people, mom says
Jocelyn Nungaray's family spoke to ABC13 as the search for two persons of interest continued.

HOUSTON -- The two people detained Thursday in connection with the strangulation of 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray, whose body was discovered in a north Houston creek earlier this week, are now charged with capital murder, police announced.

This comes less than 48 hours after the Houston Police Department released pictures of two male persons of interest in the case.

Thursday afternoon, HPD held a press conference in which it was announced that two men, Johan Jose Rangel Martinez and Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, were arrested, and face capital murder charges for their alleged roles in the 12-year-old's death.

Lt. Stephen Hope said surveillance video and other evidence helped them identify the suspects. Hope said the two men started their evening at a local restaurant together. They then left the restaurant on foot, and were walking south, which is when they were first seen on camera. HPD released those images on Tuesday.

The suspects were later seen meeting with Nungaray and talking for a few minutes. Later, Rangel Martinez and Pena Ramos, along with Nungaray, walked to a convenience store.

ABC13 obtained surveillance images that appear to show 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray's last moments alive before her body was found in a creek in north Houston on June 17, 2024.
ABC13 obtained surveillance images that appear to show 12-year-old Jocelyn Nungaray's last moments alive before her body was found in a creek in north Houston on June 17, 2024.

After a few minutes, all three of them walked to a bridge, which is where HPD said the 12-year-old was murdered.

Rangel Martinez and Pena Ramos then continued walking to their residence, leaving Nungaray behind.

After days of investigating, on Thursday, authorities arrested the two men. They were detained and taken in for questioning. Meanwhile, crews remained at the apartment complex looking for additional evidence of the crime, which was found, but police would not immediately release those details.

Nungaray's body was found Monday near a freeway, walking distance from where she lives, after investigators believe she snuck out of her home about 10 p.m. on Sunday. Her mother last saw her when she went to bed, according to police.

Houston police said surveillance images of that evening helped lead them to the suspects. Police said both men were seen walking with the young girl in the area where she would later be found dead.

Despite the two men's arrest, authorities are still asking for the public's help with any information.

"We are still asking for more help from the public for anybody who might have seen something or might know something, however small, to reach out to us," acting HPD Chief Larry Satterwhite said.

Mayor John Whitmire also took a moment to address the community for their help but also mentioned all eyes are on the court system now.

"We're gonna be watching you; the rest have taken place, and the charges have been filed. Now, we want the justice system to do its job. If there was ever a circumstance where you do not give someone bail, this is it," Whitmire said. "There are circumstances allowed if you can prevent bail. Take in consideration flight risk. Take in consideration the severity of this crime. So I'm gonna be monitoring the court system. I want these suspects to have their day in court. I want them to be held accountable and I want it done sooner than later."

On Wednesday, ABC Houston affiliate KTRK spoke to Nungaray's grandmother, who said, "We really want justice for her. We are asking for everyone's help."

She describes her as an incredibly kind and loving girl. The family recently came back from their annual vacation at a state park.

Later in the day, KTRK spoke to the girl's mother.

"She's meant to be here. She's supposed to be here," Alexis Nungaray said. "She had aspirations for life. She loved everyone, was so kind, greatest friend, very goofy."

Alexis Nungaray doesn't believe her daughter knew the men caught on surveillance camera.

"She's not one to be aggressive and be like, 'Stop talking to me,'" she said. "She is very shy and quiet and keeps to herself. I felt like she maybe didn't want to be rude, and that's why she was pacing back and forth and safely get away from the situation. She unfortunately got caught with the wrong people at the wrong time."

Nungaray was reportedly talking to her 13-year-old boyfriend on the phone around midnight when he heard her talking with two adults.

Alexis Nungaray added that she tracked her daughter's phone to a nearby skatepark when she realized she was missing.

RELATED: HPD believes 12-year-old girl may have snuck out of her home before being found dead in creek

Billie Jackson was driving home from dropping her husband off from work on Monday morning when she says she made the disturbing discovery.

"I drove past, and when I looked up the creek, I thought it was a mannequin. I did a U-turn, and I stopped on the bridge, put my flashers on, looked down, and realized it was someone. I parked right here and called 911 immediately," she said.

The Harris County, Texas Institute of Forensic Sciences determined Nungaray died by strangulation.

Authorities urge anyone with information about the girl's death to contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477).