SOUTH HOUSTON, Texas (FOX 26) - There’s a growing memorial at an abandoned apartment complex in South Houston where the body of a 15-year-old girl was discovered last night. 15-year-old Karen Perez was last seen by her family Friday when she left for school. All weekend there was a massive search for the missing South Houston High School student and Monday night inside abandoned apartments on Avenue N the teenager was found dead.
Surveillance video from a nearby taqueria shows what Perez’s family says is the 15-year-old, her boyfriend and another guy friend arriving at the Refresqueria Y Taqueria right next to South Houston High School on Friday at noon. It’s one of the last times anyone saw the teen alive. The group on the surveillance video sits down and stays for about 10 minutes and they all leave. Restaurant workers say six hours later just after 6:00 pm the 15-year-old's boyfriend returns to the taqueria alone.
“He looked like he was sad but not crying or nothing like that. He just looked worried. He asked if we can let him use the phone. We let him use the phone. He called his mom to come pick him up. He ordered a drink. He was sitting here for like 30 minutes then his ride came to pick him up,” explains restaurant worker Jesus Alejandro.
Relatives say by 6:00 pm on Friday Karen was missing. They say the 15-year-old never returned home from South Houston High School.
”She just had her quinceanera April 9, 2016. She just celebrated,” cries the teen’s cousin Janely Baldespino.
Tim Miller with Texas Equusearch was helping look for the 15-year-old and discovered her body just after 10:00 pm on Memorial Day.
"Myself, one of our members and one of the South Houston Police officers unfortunately found what certainly appears to be Karen in one of the apartments in a cabinet underneath the sink,” explains Miller. The teen was partially clothed and hidden inside a kitchen cabinet in a second floor apartment of the abandoned complex.
“It’s so very, very obvious that many, many kids have skipped school and ended up in these apartments hanging out, probably some of them smoking pot, having sex. It’s pretty incredible some of the things we found in the apartment,” adds Miller.
“This is the place where fights would happen. Everything that would be considered bad in school that you’re not supposed to do would happen in these apartments,” explains the 15-year-old’s cousin and former South Houston High School student Arturo Perez.
South Houston Police have arrested a juvenile for the murder of 15-year-old Karen Perez.
"I want him to suffer, pay for everything he has done. She was the sweetest little girl. She was always smiling and laughing. She was always so happy. She always hugged you and we’re not going to have that anymore,” cries the teens cousin Sanely.
While the body discovered inside the apartments is presumed to be the missing 15-year-old, that won’t be confirmed until the autopsy is complete. Her cause of death hasn’t been released and because the teen arrested for her murder is not an adult, police have not released his name or his relationship to 15-year-old Karen Perez. Investigators will only say he is approximately her same age.
Texas EquuSearch volunteer Frank Black tells FOX 26 News that Perez was ranked in the top 10 percentile of her class.