TYLER, Texas - New documents reveal the relative of a missing East Texas girl admitted to killing the 10-year-old and then later recanting his statement.
The sheriffs in Smith and Cherokee counties addressed the media at a press conference Tuesday morning. They said 24-year-old Gustavo Zavala-Garcia is the lone suspect in the death of Kayla Gomez-Orozco, who is his wife's cousin. He has been charged with capital murder.
Kayla disappeared a week ago while attending a prayer service with her family at the Bullard First Assembly of God Church. Her body was found on Zavala-Garcia's property Saturday night in a well after four days of intense searching.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Zavala-Garcia told investigators he was at the prayer service Tuesday night. He claims he left with his 3-year-old daughter and saw Kayla sitting in the lobby when he left. But the affidavit says there were inconsistencies with his statements and his time frame. A witness at the church also saw him leaving with both his daughter and Kayla.
Cell phone records and surveillance video show Zavala-Garcia was traveling at the time he said he was already home, and "investigators believe the seventeen minutes of time difference" from when cell phone records show he got home to when his wife actually saw him walk through the door is when he "concealed the victim in the well."
Investigators searched Zavala-Garcia’s home with his consent and found the girl’s body in several feet of water in concrete pipe well. He admitted to killing her during a polygraph test, but later recanted his answer, the affidavit says.
The Smith and Cherokee county sheriffs would not talk about a motive in the case or speculate on how Kayla died. They would not talk about whether she was sexually assaulted.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he will be looking at all the evidence in the case to see if the death penalty can be applied.
“She has become our own daughter, and we're going to get justice for her,” the district attorney said.
“We feel we've got a very good handle on what's going on and about what happened as far as a timeline through interviews,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith. “We will get justice for Kayla.”
Zavala-Garcia’s bond is set at $10 million.