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SAN BENITO — Seven years after the murder, authorities have named a 40-year-old man in prison as the “person of interest” in the killing of a San Benito teenager whose disappearance has drawn national headlines, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said.
An investigation has led officials to identify Miguel Angel Flores, now in a Brazoria state prison after convictions for aggravated robberies in Cameron and Hidalgo County, as Nahomi Rodriguez’s killer, Saenz’s office stated.
“Miguel Angel Flores is the current person of interest we believe is responsible for Nahomi’s fate,” Saenz stated in a press release.
Investigators believe others are also involved in the case.
”We continue to work to build the best case against Flores and identify co-conspirators whom we believe conspired with Flores to commit the crime(s),” Saenz stated. “Nahomi deserves justice and we continue to endeavor to find justice and secure peace and closure for her family.”
Now, Flores is serving a 13-year sentence after a 2018 conviction for a 2017 aggravated robbery in Cameron County and a 12-year sentence after a 2022 conviction for a 2017 aggravated robbery in Hidalgo County, the press release states.
In 2003, Flores was sentenced to 10 years in prison following a conviction for aggravated kidnapping, a criminal history showed.
In about four years, Flores, who has about 10 years remaining on his sentences for aggravated robbery, will become eligible for parole, Harlingen police Commander Jose Luis Garcia said.
‘They knew each other’
During a press conference July 14 at the Harlingen Police Department, Garcia said investigators believe Flores knew Rodriguez.
“We believe they knew each other,” he told reporters.
Investigators are searching for suspects in the case, Garcia said.
“We do believe there’s more than one person involved,” he said. “We strongly believe that co-conspirators are involved.”
Person of interest
In October, authorities identified Flores as the person of interest in the case but held off on releasing his name to avoid jeopardizing interviews, Garcia said.
Meanwhile, they continue searching for evidence leading to probable cause to make arrests in the case, he said.
“It’s been a very active open case,” he said. “This is a very important case for us — this one specifically because of the time lapse and condition of the remains. It was skeletal remains, basically.”
Working off tips
During the investigation, tips led authorities to Flores, Garcia said.
“I believe we found him,” he told reporters, referring to Rodriguez’s killer. “Based on the information we have now, it’s going to be a homicide. This whole case got to this point based on information we received. It was a very minuscule type of information. We ran with it for months. We did a lot of interviews. We definitely need people with information to come forward. If you know something about it, it’s best to come forward on your own.”
Family members’ information
Meanwhile, investigators believe Flores’ family members are refusing to disclose what’s believed to be “critical information,” Saenz stated.
“Based on the investigation, we believe family members may have critical information regarding Nahomi’s death but are refusing to cooperate with law
enforcement,” he stated in a press release. “It is a crime for a person to (intentionally) ‘deceive, (to) knowingly (make) a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation and (make) the statement to a peace officer or federal special investigator conducting the investigation.’”
On July 17, 2016, Rodriguez, 19, was working the night shift at a McDonald’s restaurant at 602 N. 77 Sunshine Strip in Harlingen.
At about 12:30 p.m., she called her mother, telling her she had found a ride home.
After studying surveillance camera footage, investigators believe Rodriguez got into a man’s SUV at about 1:30 a.m.
She never came home.
For months, Rodriguez’s photograph flashed on billboards while her story drew national headlines amid an investigation that included the FBI, Homeland Security and the Texas Rangers.
In April 2017, dental records led investigators to identify her remains found near a canal at Centerline Road and FM 106 east of Rio Hondo.
Authorities are requesting those with information regarding the case to call the Harlingen Police Department at (956) 216-5400.