Suspect in Houston killings faces capital murder charges
He removed his ankle monitor and eluded police for days. But Jose Gilberto Rodriguez isn’t going anywhere now, charged with two counts of capital murder — with the possibility of more charges to come.
Rodriguez, 46, is suspected in at least two of three Houston-area homicides over the past week. Police have called the homicides possible serial killings, though the motive hasn’t been released.
Rodriguez, a registered sex offender who was on parole at the time of the killings, is being held without bond Wednesday at the Harris County Jail. Authorities may file additional charges against him, Houston police Chief Art Acevedo said.
Alert resident tipped off police
If not for the sharp eye of a Houston resident Tuesday, authorities said, the suspect may have zeroed in on another target.
“It’s possible he was casing the neighborhood in search of his next victim,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. “So thanks to the alert work of that citizen and swift action, we were able to get involved.”
Gonzalez said the tipster spotted a suspicious vehicle early Tuesday. It was the same Nissan Sentra that police said Rodriguez was likely driving.
After that resident called police, authorities realized Rodriguez was still in the car. Following a 14-minute pursuit through the neighborhood, Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident.
Deputy Jorge Reyes, who initiated the traffic stop when the license plate came back stolen, said once Rodriguez realized he couldn’t escape, he pulled over and put his hands out the window.
Deputies found a pistol in the car.
“He didn’t say anything,” Reyes said.
Forensic information that would tell whether the handgun was used in any of the crimes won’t be available until Wednesday, Detective David Crane of the sheriff’s office said.
Rodriguez is accused of two of the killings, Crane said. A third possible holding charge of capital murder could be added Wednesday after Houston police look at the evidence.
The suspect was interviewed but didn’t divulge much and made no admission of guilt, he said.
3 victims found in 4 days
Police said Rodriguez cut off his ankle monitor a few days before the first shooting.
The first victim, Pamela Johnson, 62, was found dead Friday night inside her home in northwest Harris County after her family called authorities because they couldn’t reach her.
Johnson’s car was stolen from her home and later discovered at a nearby mall. That’s when the Harris County Sheriff’s Office reviewed the mall’s surveillance video and made a connection with the suspect.
Two other people were found dead at different mattress stores Saturday and Monday.
Authorities said they also believe Rodriguez robbed a Metro bus driver early Monday and shot a driver last week. The driver who was shot is in serious condition but is stable and able to talk with his family, officials said.
Crane said there is nothing to indicate a connection between any of the victims.
Acevedo, the police chief, told reporters that authorities are trying to determine whether Rodriguez committed other crimes about which they don’t know yet.
He also said Harris County is looking to form a task force that would focus on parolees who have committed serious crimes.
“We’ve got to up our game, because there’s not enough to deal with parolees,” he said. “But we’re going to change that.”