A woman who was hiding a recent miscarriage from her family fatally stabbed a mother and abducted her infant daughter, Houston police said Thursday.
Erika Jisela Miranda-Alvarez, 28, is charged with capital murder in the death of 33-year-old Carolina Flores, Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. He said Miranda-Alvarez had known Flores and Flores’ brother for about five years.
Miranda-Alvarez concealed her miscarriage from family members and claimed that she had just returned from the hospital after giving birth, Acevedo said.
‘The woman was due to have a baby in January and she lost that baby,’ he said.
The body of Carolina Flores was discovered around midday Tuesday. Police initially said they believed the baby was with her father but he was found late Tuesday in San Antonio without Shamali.
‘Investigative efforts’ led police to a southwest Houston apartment complex early Thursday where they happened to spot a couple holding a baby, Acevedo said. They questioned the couple and determined Miranda-Alvarez was holding 6-week-old Shamali Flores. The baby was not harmed.
Miranda-Alvarez was being held without bond at the Houston city jail. Online jail records don’t indicate she has an attorney who can comment on her behalf. The suspect’s boyfriend has not been charged and Acevedo said it appears he wasn’t aware of the miscarriage.
Investigators believed the couple was preparing to leave the area with Shamali, he said.
Shamali was evaluated at a hospital and is in the custody of state Child Protective Services.
Police officials at a news conference Wednesday had said the person who took Shamali likely knew her family. They also said it’s possible the girl was taken by someone who had lost a child.
Acevedo on Thursday credited Houston police and FBI with using that theory to help direct the course of the investigation.
‘Everything our investigators theorized turned out to be true,’ he said.
Flores was found stabbed to death Tuesday morning by her 17-year-old nephew in in her northeast Houston apartment.
An Amber Alert was issued for her daughter not long after.
The baby’s father, 34-year-old Marcos Mariano Tomas Palacios (aka Thomas Bernardez), was initially a person of interest in the case.
They located him late Tuesday in San Antonio but he didn’t have the baby on him.
After questioning Palacios, police held a press conference on Wednesday and said the suspect may be a woman who knows the family and may be passing the baby off as her own.
‘We really believe based on what we’ve seen so far that this suspect who has this child is familiar with this family and familiar with this neighborhood,’ Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said.
He added: ‘The individual who abducted Shamali may be a woman who has or will present the child as their own, and may even indicate the child was recently born. Think about anyone who has a child that you weren’t aware they were pregnant. Also think about people that may have lost a child recently. Women or families that may have lost a child recently. That might be someone we may be interested in talking to.
Flores’ cousin Jenny Lopez told KTRK that Flores moved to the U.S. from Honduras illegally about five years ago.
‘She came out here to get something,’ Lopez said. ‘[She] came out here to provide for her kids and to get something out of life because in Honduras there’s nothing.’
Flores two other children, ages seven and 17, who are now in the care of family members. Flores also took care of her niece and nephew.