CONROE, Texas – Roman Pray, a former New Waverly High School football player and track star, and three others are behind bars in connection to the death of two Conroe men.
Investigators said family members hadn't heard from Jaquise Williams, 23, and Akeem Russell, 24, and asked police to check on them at a home in the 9600 block of Bimms Drive in Conroe just before 9 a.m on July 20.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said the two cousins were found dead with gunshot wounds.
Williams’ toddler daughter was also found in the home, but was not harmed.
Investigators said Roman Pray, 18; Thomas Lizcano, 17; and a juvenile were charged with capital murder and are facing the death penalty or life behind bars.
"We cried. It was hard and it's still hard, " said Constance Lawrence, Pray's aunt.
"None of us been able to sleep. It is very hard. We love Roman and we stand by him 24/7. It's a very hard situation to deal with."
Lawrence said she and her family have been taking care of Pray for five years and have gone to all of his games.
He moved from Houston and his family said it was because he was having trouble at home.
"He was in school. He was in sports. He had a promising career going in front of him," said Lawrence about Pray's life at New Waverly High School.
She said Pray was named Athlete of the Year, had just competed in the track state championship and had graduated from high school in the spring.
"He was going to go to school in Kansas at Coffeeville. Then, after two years, he would go to the University of Houston. We were pushing on him getting an education," said Lawrence.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said it's still working to figure out everyone's role in the shooting and their connections to the victims.
“Clearly it’s a robbery. We know that’s the motive right now. They went in that house to get something. Unfortunately, things went incredibly bad very quickly," said Capt. Bryan Carlisle, with the Sheriff's Office.
One other person, Roddrick Jordan, 30, was also arrested. He was charged with aggravated robbery.
“The information that we have right now strongly indicates that he stayed inside the vehicle," said Carlisle.
“What his level of involvement was before that and after that is a little bit unclear, but what is clear is that he was in the vehicle to the time the shooting started."
The Sheriff's Office said tips from the community helped them arrest the four people tied to the double homicide.
"It’s the one piece that leads you to the next piece that leads you to the next piece, so to get these four people in custody, our detectives had to talk to a bunch of folks to make sure we had the right people," said Carlisle.
"I know Roman wouldn't do this, because Roman is my best friend, like my brother, and I look up to him and everything and I just won’t believe he did something like that," said Elexus Lawrence, Pray's cousin.
She believes Pray started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
"He had a lot. It just makes me sad that he's behind bars now, knowing he could have been better. He had a future, and the other boys didn't have a future," said Elexus.
Pray is now looking for an attorney to represent him.
“I know that he was gifted. I understand he had some opportunity to better his education and maybe get an even better start in life as a young man, and unfortunately, that's all gone now," said Carlisle.
Carlisle said he believes the four people who were arrested are the right suspects connected to the case.
He said the Sheriff's Office is looking for two other suspects.
"It hurts. It's hard. We're not sleeping. All of us are worried and we're praying for him and we're also praying for the family that got killed," said Lawrence.
If you have any additional information concerning these homicides or the suspects involved, please contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office at 936-760-5800 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 800-392-STOP (7867).