Skeletal remains found wrapped, hidden under mattress in apartment, police say

By Vincent Crivelli - Reporter, Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli - Digital News Editor

HOUSTON - A gruesome discovery was made at some condominiums in southwest Houston.

The new owner of the condo, which police originally referred to as an apartment, was doing some cleaning when that person found a body inside the unit on Club Creek Drive and Country Creek Street.

Police initially said a maintenance worker had found the body, but later said the new owner made the discovery and called 911.

Around 11:45 p.m. Thursday, authorities found the wrapped body hidden between a mattress and box spring, police said.

Neighbors said they knew something was up because there was a smell coming from the unit and there were flies everywhere.

“I asked the investigator guy what was causing these flies, (and) he said because blood everywhere,” said neighbor Sam Syed. 

Police said they are also investigating the disappearance of Carlos Rios, who was reported missing on March 1 and lived in the same unit.

“We cannot confirm whether this person is the missing person or if it’s something different,” said HPD Detective Kenneth Daignault. “(It) could be but, ultimately we cannot (confirm) that until a positive ID is done by the medical examiner’s office.”

Though police said Rios lived in the unit, a woman who identified herself as Rios' girlfriend said he did not live there, but because she lived in the complex, Rios spent a lot of time there.

The unit belonged to Jesus Cardenas Valencia when Rios was reported missing in March.

Police said that, when they began investigating Rios’ disappearance, they thought foul play was involved, so they checked out the unit on March 2.

One neighbor said he knew Valencia and he is disturbed by the discovery.

“I mean, it’s crazy, kind of disturbs you, make you not want to live around here,” said Shaun O’Neal. 

When police arrived for the initial investigation, Valencia answered the door and released a dog on them, so they shot and killed the animal, police said.

Police found Rios’ vehicle at the scene but did not find a body, so they left. Valencia was taken into custody, questioned and later released.

O'Neal, who knew Valencia, said police shouldn't have let him go.

“I believe he out of the country," O'Neal said. "He ain’t over here. They messed up. They should have kept him when they had him."

O’Neal said investigators searched Valencia’s unit for about 10 hours while he was in custody and he’s stunned it took them two searches to find the body.

“It just make you feel like, 'Damn, if somebody come in here and kill me and hide me and I am hid in my house, you are not going to find me for three months or until somebody else move in.' Makes you not have a lot of faith in police work,” O'Neal said.

Rios’ friends said they saw flies inside the unit and believed Rios was still inside.

The unit was sold, and the new owner began cleaning it up, which is when the person found the wrapped body.

Police said the unit was filled with rotten food so it already smelled, and the new owner discovered the body while cleaning. Officers said the body had likely been there for weeks.

Authorities have not confirmed the body is that of Rios as an autopsy still needs to be performed.

Valencia is now a person of interest in the case again, police said.

Police cannot confirm if the body was put in the unit after their first search or if they missed it from the start.  

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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