BAYTOWN, Texas - Three men have been charged in the deaths of two Baytown teens whose bodies were found in a body of water near Anahuac, Texas Thursday afternoon.
Brandon Alejandro Flores, 20, has been charged with capital murder. He was captured in Mexico on May 3 according to sources, but the extradition process is expected to be lengthy due to the fact that Mexico is against the death penalty.
Valentin Lazo, 27, confessed to being involved in the murder with Flores on Friday. Capital murder charges were filed in Chambers County against Lazo, according to the Baytown Police Department.
Baytown police said they also arrested Richard Gonzales, 21. Authorities said he will also be charged with capital murder.
Jose Juan Chavez, 17, known as "Chop," is considered a person of interest in the case, according to Baytown police.
Baytown police executed a search warrant Friday looking for evidence that would determine the wherabouts of Chavez.
Flores' parents reported him missing last week.
Alex Chavez, 18, and Jarvis Morgan, 17, were last seen Feb. 18 near the Marina Club Apartments and the Fred Hartman Bridge. Days later, police found the car they were driving parked near a dumpster at the apartment complex.
The bodies of Chavez and Morgan were recovered at 3:45 p.m. Thursday in Double Bayou, south of Eagle Ferry at Farm-to-Market Road 563.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said the bodies were intact, despite the elements. He said it appeared that the bodies were moved from another rural area to where they were found.
The bodies matched the descriptions of the missing teens.
"As we said before, our hearts go out to the family, especially to the mothers. We had the unpleasant task of informing them that we found their sons. Baytown PD threw every possible resource toward this investigation," Baytown Assistant Police Chief Roger Clifford said.
Clifford said authorities have been flooded with leads since the teens disappeared. Many of the tips were rumors, but many called in to Crime Stoppers were useful and helped point investigators in the right direction, leading them to Chambers County.
"We finally got enough information to get a general location and begin to look. It looks like probably they have been in the water the entire time. This is going to be foul play, there is no doubt about that," Clifford said. "These are young men, high school-aged kids. A lot of high school students have been sending in tips and that is taking a lot of time to sift through," Clifford said. "I had a very difficult time telling parents, families grieving, understandably. They are devastated. I’m sure they could use support and good wishes."
At a press conference Friday afternoon, community activist Quanell X, along with Texas Equusearch founder Tim Miller and the victims' families, criticized the way the investigation was handled. They said they went to the Baytown Police Department armed with information, but were told to go home.
Quanell X said Chavez's uncle put his own life in danger in a desperate search for answers.
"If there is any man that has put his life on the line for those boys it is this man right here," Quanell X said referring to the uncle. "He went into the valley of death looking for the boys."
The uncle said that when he reached out to Baytown police, he got nowhere.
"Go home, get some rest, go to sleep, they will come home. You are chasing a ghost," police told him.
The family says that haste caused them to lose precious time and allowed the accused killer to slip away.
Miller and Quanell X said they conducted their own search, investigating every lead while Flores, who is described as a "homeboy" of the victims, continued to mislead the families.
From the beginning, Flores stayed very close to the families; interacting with the mothers and leading them on a wild goose chase, the family said. Chavez's mother, Marianna Castillo, said Flores even called her frantically, asking her to give him a ride somewhere.
"They trusted him," Quanell X said.
Flores allegedly told the mothers that gang members were involved, but Quanell X said a gang member told him that Flores was the guilty person.
"We had nothing to do with this [expletive]. We don't need all this heat on us," the gang member told Quanell X.
The gang member allegedly said the motive for the murders was robbery.
"Sad to say,the gang member was 100 percent right. They were straight up, they were truthful. They were more truthful than Baytown PD," Quanell X said. "We asked them to get a search warrant for Brandon's house last week and they told us he ain't no suspect. We could have had closure a long time ago."
Quanell X said police conducted a phone interview with Flores, even though he was listed as the last known person to see the victims alive.
"He [Flores] was never asked to come in," Quanell X said. "Instead of us looking all over the place, we should have been looking for Brandon."
Quanell X said the authorities did not get involved until he held a public news conference.
"They didn't do anything until we called Quanell X," Jarvis mother, Sharon Bernard, said. " If he didn't come nothing would be going on to find Jarvis and Alex."
Miller also expressed disappointment with the investigation.
"It's been extremely frustrating. We brought every resource in," he said.
Miller, who handles many cases like this one, said that as days slipped by he lost hope of finding the boys alive.
"I said the most we can hope for is to one day soon go to a funeral," Miller said.
Asked how he feels about the victims' being linked to a gang, Quanell X replied
"What angers a lot of black or Hispanic people is that every time one of our kids gets killed, people want to holler is it drug-related or gang-related. This was no gang-related killing. This was a boy who cut their hair! I love to wear blue suits, does that make me a Crip?"
The activist had only one question for Flores: "Why did you do it?"
"Alex you're coming home now. We all promised you that now. And we made it. We all did," said Castillo. She stood in front of her home, along with about 100 other supporters, and said, of suspect Flores, "Now we need to get them back. Brandon and everyone else who was involved. Y'all are coming with them too. And nobody's going to rest until y'all are turned in. One way or another, you're going to be in jail. You're going to pay for this."
"I want to thank all of y'all for bringing my baby home. I want justice for my son. My son deserves it. I thank all of y'all for your prayers," Bernard said. "Please, please find Brandon Flores. Find him so that I can get justice for Jarvis."
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Flores or Chavez is asked to call the Baytown Police Department at 281-422-8371 or Baytown Crime Stoppers 281-427-TIPS.
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