[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
A Houston family spent Tuesday frantically searching for their beloved 21-year-old daughter Idania Campos (pictured above, lower left) after she failed to show up at school. Then, that night, with the Houston Police Department also searching for the woman, Campos’ father came across her abandoned car in the Texas city’s Meyerland neighborhood. He broke into it, popped the trunk, and discovered the most awful site of his life: Idania’s lifeless body.
Now, police have arrested 19-year-old Ariel Cruz (pictured above, top right, in his mugshot) and charged him with murder. Cruz is Campos’ ex-boyfriend, per police statements. In arrest documents obtained by KHOU 11 News, ABC 13 News, and others, detectives say Cruz allegedly killed Campos after she broke up with him.
The tragedy began to unfold on Tuesday morning. Campos spoke to her mother at about 8:20 a.m. local time, then was supposed to head to school. She didn’t show up for class, though, and family members immediately knew something was amiss. They searched their neighborhood but found no sign of her. So, they called 911, and Houston PD officers took a missing person’s report.
For the next nine hours, family members grew increasingly worried when they couldn’t contact Campos. Eventually, at around 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday night, they located her Honda in the Meyerland neighborhood. Resident Jenna Gonzalez gave Campos’ father a bat and a towel to help him smash the window of the car. Speaking to ABC 13 after the fact, Gonzalez recalled the grisly discovery that came when they popped the trunk:
“I popped the trunk, and there she was, just laying there. There was no way to save her. There was too much blood.”
Paramedics were called to the scene, but Campos was deceased upon discovery with what local news outlets reported were signs of trauma to her face. Police detectives were immediately brought in to investigate the death as a homicide.
Over the last several days, they zeroed in on Cruz. In a Houston PD press release to People and other outlets on Thursday, cops confirmed they’d arrested the 19-year-old man and charged him with homicide. Even more disturbingly, they say he actively consoled Campos’ family AND helped with their search on Tuesday back when she was still a missing person, and before they knew she’d been killed:
“Further investigation identified a suspect as Cruz, who was on the scene along with the family in their search for the victim. … He assisted with the search.”
Family members confirmed the department’s claim, too. They told ABC 13 News that Cruz was at Campos’ home for most of the day on Tuesday after she disappeared. He consoled the family and help with looking for her even after police took over the investigation. Then, when her body was discovered that evening, cops kicked things into overdrive. Per Click2Houston, which cited arrest documents, Cruz allegedly confessed to killing Campos after he was detained and questioned by detectives.
The motive, per Campos’ family members, was allegedly the fact that she’d broken up with Cruz. Several family members told ABC 13 News that Cruz and Campos had been in a relationship, but had remained friends after she split up with him. He was even at the Campos family house the weekend before her death. Campos’ aunt Bobbie Munoz told that outlet:
“I guess because he couldn’t have her, he didn’t want us to have her either.”
So, so sad.
Here is more on this heartbreaking situation:
Now, per People, Cruz remains in Harris County Jail on a $600,000 bond.
We send our condolences to Campos’ family, friends, and loved ones after this unimaginable tragedy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788, or go to https://www.thehotline.org/.
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