Arrest made in cold case murder involving Phoenix girl

Phoenix Police say they have made an arrest in connection with a cold case murder involving a 15-year-old girl.

In a statement we first received on July 10, Phoenix Police announced the arrest of 37-year-old Sergio Francisco Reyes for the murder of Elena Lasswell in 2004. Reyes' arrest was made on the same day Lasswell was murdered 20 years prior.

Our cameras were there as police took Reyes in to the Phoenix Police headquarters in Downtown Phoenix.

The statement had a brief recounting of what happened on the day Lasswell died. Officers were sent to a home near the area of 23rd Avenue and Thomas Road. When officers arrived, they, along with Phoenix Fire crews, were directed to a room where Lasswell was found.

"Emergency lifesaving measures were attempted but Lasswell did not survive her injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene," read a portion of the statement.

Lasswell's murder case, police say, eventually went cold, despite investigators presenting the case to Silent Witness and asking for community support in identifying a suspect.

Elena Lasswell (Courtesy: Katie Tourville)

Elena Lasswell (Courtesy: Katie Tourville)

The case, however, took a new turn in 2012, when cold case detectives were able to identify a profile that matched Reyes, using DNA collection techniques.

"In March of 2013, DNA evidence was processed and confirmed Reyes as the lead suspect. In 2014, the Maricopa County Grand Jury indicted Reyes, who was living in Mexico at the time," read a portion of the statement.

Reyes, police say, was extradited from Mexico, and is accused of committing multiple violent felonies, including sexual assault and 1st degree murder.

We spoke with Lasswell's aunt on Wednesday afternoon about the emotions the family is feeling.

"Knowing that someone is being held responsible feels awesome," said Katie Tourville. "It's been a long haul, and thank god for Phoenix PD. They have been absolutely amazing. I just really felt that they were on the right trail, and that they would get it. I just didn't know when."

Elena's mother had passed away in the years since her daughter's murder, but Tourville said the mother's wish was not revenge.

"She wanted him to be caught so he couldn't hurt anyone else," Tourville said.

She wonders what Elena's life could've been.

"Wondering, you know what, would she be married? What would she be doing now? All the typical things that, you know, that you won't get to see," she said.

Tourville says the family never gave up hope.

"I truly felt like they were on the right trail," she said. "I knew they would get it. I just didn’t know when."

She calls Reyes a monster.

"It’s hard to see a monster in real life because they don't look like what we grew up thinking a monster was," she said.

Reyes is booked into jail on suspicion of multiple violent felonies including first degree murder and sexual assault.

Sergio Francisco Reyes

Area where the incident happened