Man charged after 10-year-old female cousin found dead in well

Gustavo Zavala-Garcia
Gustavo Zavala-Garcia

TYLER, Texas (AP) — A 24-year-old Mexican national has been jailed on a capital murder charge after his 10-year-old female cousin was found dead in an East Texas water well.

His cousin by marriage, Kayla Gomez-Orozco, age 10, was reported missing after a Nov. 1 service at a church in Bullard, about 15 miles south of Tyler. Hundreds of volunteers searched the area for days until the girl’s body was found Saturday down the well of a rented house about 2½ miles southeast of Bullard.

Police have not determined a motive for the girl’s killing. Investigators think she was killed the night she was kidnapped, or the morning after.

On Tuesday, the state district attorney spoke about the difficulties handling a case like this.

“There was a father, the way I understand it, of a young girl, strapped to a tripod, headed down a well, to bring home the body of a 10-year-old. It’s hard as you sit in this room, to understand the emotional toll that it takes on these men and women,” said Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingha.

“I want everybody, or I would ask everyone in this community to say a prayer and keep in your thoughts every one of these men and women, who have seen things that really would be hard to even describe to you…things that most people in this community will never see, and they have to set that aside and move forward with this investigation, and that’s exactly what they’ve done,” Bingha added.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says 24-year-old Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was booked Saturday into Smith County Jail on a federal immigration detainer. Smith said an arrest warrant was issued for Zavala-Garcia Monday, charging him with capital murder. No attorney or bond setting for Zavala-Garcia is listed in online jail records.

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