A Jackson County grand jury indicted an unlawful migrant on a capital murder charge in connection with the brutal stabbing of a teen cheerleader.
The Edna Police Department arrested Rafael Govea Romero, 23, in Schulenburg on December 9 for murder after allegedly tracking the victim’s phone to his home.
Four days prior, 16-year-old Lizbeth Medina’s mother, Jacqueline Medina, found her dead in the bathtub of their apartment in Edna, roughly an hour from Schulenburg. Medina had gone home in hopes of finding her daughter after she failed to turn up at a scheduled cheerleading event in a Christmas parade.
On February 5, the indictment handed down by a Jackson County grand jury enhanced the charge to capital murder because authorities believed the suspect killed Medina in the course of committing another crime. This other crime has yet to be specified but will reportedly be either aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or burglary.
The victim’s autopsy revealed that she had died after her killer had forced her head “to strike a firm surface,” according to Fox News. Moreover, she was struck in the head “with a hard object” and then stabbed repeatedly “with a sharp object or edged weapon.” The results from a rape kit are still pending.
The Medinas’ home had been burglarized a few weeks prior to the murder. Edna police said they believe that Romero was the perpetrator of the break-in and that he then allegedly exhibited “stalking-like” behavior towards the victim, according to Det. Stacy Cavazos, the Victoria Advocate reported.
Surveillance video footage allegedly showed that Romero made multiple trips to the Cottonwood apartment complex where the Medinas lived. Several items belonging to the victim were also allegedly found in his home.
With her daughter’s death still under investigation, Jacqueline Medina was left with many unanswered questions and a strong need for closure. However, the indictment gave her some hope of resolution.
“Whatever comes to him, I’ll be happy as long as he really pays for what he did,” Medina said, according to the Victoria Advocate. “I know [prosecutors] are working diligently so he gets what he deserves.”
According to data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard, murders in Dallas rose by 15% in 2023 amid a critical officer shortage at the Dallas Police Department. Although a City report recommended a force of around 4,000 officers, DPD fields only about 3,000.