Vigil held for 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez; Police release photo of 'person of interest'

A vigil was held Friday evening for 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez. The young girl was found dead in her family’s apartment in Pasadena last Saturday.

At least 100 people, family, friends, and strangers alike attended Friday’s vigil from across Pasadena and the Houston area.

"This really touched my heart," said Lupita Hernandez. "As you can see, I just came from work.  I felt like I had to be here."

On Saturday, Maria messaged her father about someone knocking on the door of their apartment. When he got home about five hours later, Maria’s father found her lifeless body in a trash bag, placed inside a laundry bin, underneath a mattress.

RELATED: Pasadena crime: 11-year-old Maria Gonzalez murdered, person of interest identified

Officials believe the 11-year-old was raped, strangled, and killed.

"Thanks for being with me these days," said Carmelo Gonzalez, Maria’s father. "These are tough times. I have no more words to say. Thanks for being with me."

On Friday, Pasadena Police released a photo of Juan Carlos Garcia-Rodriguez, a man they’re calling a person of interest. The 18-year-old also lives at the Pasadena apartment complex. A key found at the crime scene works on a door to the residence where Garcia-Rodriguez had been staying. Garcia-Rodriguez is an undocumented immigrant and illegally crossed into the United States from Guatemala earlier this year.

"We’ve been asked several times over the last 24 hours if we had concerns if he was fleeing to Mexico," said Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger. "I don’t have information that he’s fleeing to Mexico. He’s Guatemalan. His whereabouts are unknown."

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FOX 26 asked Chief Bruegger if Garcia-Rodriguez has a criminal history from his time in Guatemala.

"Not that we know of yet," said Chief Bruegger. "But, getting information from them has been a challenge we’re trying to work through."

Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.

"The only thing I ask for from authorities, I want justice," said Gonzalez. "To find the person who’s guilty, who caused me this great pain in my heart."