HOUSTON – A woman who has been charged with murder after authorities said she lured a man to his death at the hands of machete-wielding MS-13 gang members is on the run, according to Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Officials said 20-year-old Karla Jackelin Morales cut off her ankle monitor and jumped bail just days before her Oct. 25, 2021 trial was set to begin for her role in the 2018 shooting and machete killing of 24-year-old Jose Villanueva.
“She helped plan and plot this vicious execution, and somebody out there knows where she is hiding,” Ogg said. “You can do the right thing by helping deliver justice for Jose’s family, and you can collect a reward for your efforts.”
The other five gang members who killed Villanueva have already been convicted and sentenced to prison. Morales is the last to face trial.
Morales, who also goes by the nicknames “Cherry,” “Karlita,” “Missy,” and “Foxy,” is described as being 5 feet tall with a heavy build. She has black hair and brown eyes, as well as tattoos, including a large one on her upper left chest that reads “Alicia.”
Officials said Morales was free on a 60,000 bond, and five days before her trial, on On Oct. 20, 2021, she cut off her ankle monitor, which included a GPS tracking device. She has since been charged with bond jumping.
Morales was born in California but has family in Central America, including Honduras and El Salvador. Authorities believe she may still be in the Houston area.
On July 29, 2018, Morales allegedly lured Villanueva to a grassy field near a Spring elementary school to smoke marijuana, a belated birthday gift. Once he got there, officials said several MS-13 members stabbed him with machetes, and then, as he tried to crawl away, shot him repeatedly with a handgun.
According to court documents, Villanueva had been hiding from the gang members, who were searching for him for allegedly disparaging the gang in a rap music battle. His wracked and decomposing remains were found days later.
Back when Morales was charged, prosecutors asked a magistrate judge to set her bond at $250,000. The judge instead set it at $100,000. A district court judge later lowered the bond to $60,000 and waived the defendant’s fees for an ankle monitor. Officials said she failed to show up for a hearing days before her trial was to begin and hasn’t been seen since.
The case is being prosecuted by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office’s Gangs and Organized Crime Division. It was investigated by the Houston Police Department’s Gangs Division.
Crime Stoppers of Houston is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to her capture. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.