TYLER, Texas - A family member of a 10-year-old East Texas girl who went missing has been charged with capital murder after police named him as the lone suspect in her death.
Kayla Gomez-Orozco of Tyler was found dead Saturday night after four days of searching. Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said investigators recovered her body from a well outside of a home in near Bullard, just a few miles from the church she was last seen at.
Smith revealed the home where Kayla's body was found at was one of her relatives, Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 24. Family members said he married one of Kayla's cousins. Smith said he allowed investigators to search the property and was taken into custody on a federal immigration hold.
Zavala-Garcia was officially charged with capital murder on Monday and is being held on a $10 million bond, according to Smith.
Kayla’s family said they never suspected Zavala-Garcia could be capable of her murder. But investigators say he’s the killer.
“She was playing with my cousin’s baby, and her dad came to grab her and take her,” said Kenneth Gomez, Kayla’s brother, in an interview last Wednesday. “So he was the one that actually saw her last, I guess.”
“We have just a verbal from doctors. But other than that, we do not have a cause of death at this time or whether there was a sexual assault,” Smith said.
A vigil was held Sunday night to remember Kayla outside Jack Elementary School in Tyler, where she attended fourth grade. Family, friends, church members and even strangers from the community prayed, sang and tied pink ribbons around the campus.
“She was a sweet little girl. She was very caring. She was a good student and she was just a joy to be around,” said Tina Jones-Glenn, a Bullard First Assembly of God church member. “She was in a bad situation and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but we know she’s with our Heavenly Father.”
Kayla disappeared Tuesday night while she and her family were attending a prayer service at the church. Her family said she got bored and left the room to wait in the lobby and play with her baby cousin. When her mother went to check on her about an hour later, she was gone.
An Amber Alert was issued and the FBI organized a massive search over the weekend that involved more than 800 volunteers and combed 1,500 acres.
Tyler media outlet KLTV first reported evidence was found on Zavala-Garcia’s property, which prompted investigators to get a warrant and search the area. An area of about 200 square feet was taped off as investigators worked the scene.
Her cause of death has not been released. An autopsy on her body will be completed at the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas.
A visitation for Kayla is scheduled for Tuesday night at the Stewart Funeral Home in Tyler at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.