HOUSTON (FOX 26) - If the state was supposed to monitor Jose Gilberto Rodriguez, how did he slip away, going on an alleged murder spree here in Houston?
Rodriguez is now locked up in the Harris County Jail accused of going on a killing spree across northwest Houston.
He has been in the Bayou City since December 2017 after being released from prison in September 2017. Rodriguez had been locked up since March 1990 for Burglary with Intent to Commit Theft (with a Deadly Weapon), Attempted Aggravated Sexual Assault (with a Deadly Weapon) and Auto Theft. An additional ten year sentence was tacked on in 1992 when he was charged with Possession of a Deadly Weapon in a Penal Institution. Rodriguez was initially sent to Dallas after his release from prison because of Hurricane Harvey and he was wearing an ankle monitoring device until he apparently decided he had worn it long enough.
When an offender is being tracked by an ankle monitoring device their every move is watched and recorded on a computer.
"So this man has just been sitting at home. He’s on house arrest, so that’s what he’s supposed to be doing,” explains Shannon Pena with EZ Monitoring. The company is one of only three businesses in Harris County approved to track probationers.
Rodriguez, accused of killing three people in just a matter of days, was under mandatory supervision after he was released from prison nine months ago. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Rodriguez had been doing everything required which would include things like getting a job, passing random drug tests, registering as a sex offender, submitting to a polygraph test and meeting with his parole officer. However, on July 5, TDCJ says Rodriguez’s ankle monitoring device had been tampered with and three days later it stopped transmitting all together. A warrant was immediately issued for his arrest.
“There is an infrared beam of light that travels in the strap every second. So if that strap is ever cut, we’ll be notified immediately,” explains Pena.
EZ Monitoring showed us how precise an ankle tracking system is.
“They’re very accurate. We’re able to tell how many satellites they are communicating with at any given time. If they’re communicating with two or three there’s a broader range of where that person could be. If it’s eight to ten satellites we’ll know within two to three feet where that person is,” says Pena.
She says the tracking technology is improving all the time. There’s now one ankle monitoring device that’s nearly tamper proof.
“This has a steel cuff. So this can not be cut,” Pena explains.
There’s also now a device with a two-way speaker so authorities can talk to the person being tracked. Officials can even sound an alarm from the device alerting everyone nearby if the person goes to an area they’re not supposed to.
In a news conference this afternoon, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said, “Look at what these ankle monitors mean. They mean nothing. They cut them off and we have three dead people.”
Acevedo says there are 18,000 parolees in the Houston area and 600 of them are considered extremely high risk. The chief says he plans to put together a task force to go after parole violators, creating an environment where parolees know there are only two choices in Houston, to abide by parole or within hours you will be arrested. Chief Acevedo says he is "rolling out the unwelcome mat for parolees."