LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas — The three friends charged with killing a 16-year-old Houston girl faced a judge in Liberty County Wednesday who set their bonds at $1M or more.
Kevin Rivera-Ortiz, 19, Joel Garcia- Martinez, 20, and Katherine Alvarez-Flores, 20, are all charged with murder in the death of Emily Rodriguez-Avila.
Alvarez-Flores is also charged with tampering or fabricating physical evidence.
Investigators say Rivera-Ortiz was the victim's ex-boyfriend but they're still working to determine a motive.
“There’s some indication that there are gang overtones in this, but once again, the investigators are looking into it to see if they can pin down and see if they can be more specific as to whether it is gang-related or not," Capt. Ken DeFoor with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office said.
Rodriguez-Avila was last seen leaving her shift at the popular Niko Niko's restaurant in Montrose the night of September 3. The next morning, her body was found dumped on the side of a rural road an hour away in Liberty County. The teen had been shot and was still wearing her work uniform.
Captain DeFoor thinks she was most likely killed in Liberty County.
“Evidence, talking to people, but physical evidence at the scene. Things like that normally point to that sort of arrangement.”
The victim's family has not spoken publicly about the girl who was working two jobs after coming here from her native Honduras.
Management for Niko Niko’s told us today: “It’s a tragic thing for everyone involved. Hopefully, this family can find some peace and closure.”
They also told said their fundraiser last week for Rodriguez-Avila’s family raised enough money to transport the teen’s body back to Honduras.
This investigation involves several agencies, including the LCSO, the Houston Police Department Gang Unit, theHomeland Security Gang Unit and the Texas Rangers.