A man accused of killing and then dismembering a Texas mother’s body with an electric chainsaw was held on $1 million bail Tuesday after five years on the run.
Erik Arceneaux, 51, was first charged with murder in 2019 following the disappearance of 29-year-old Maria Jimenez-Rodriguez. She was last seen on the morning of June 21, 2018, when she dropped off her daughter at her babysitter’s home in northeast Houston on her way to work, investigators said.
Jimenez-Rodriguez, paralegal at the Milledge Law Firm never arrived at the office that day. A colleague later told police that she received three text messages from on June 21st Jimenez-Rodriguez’s phone apologizes for her absence; The last text message from her phone, sent around 6:19 p.m., said she was being followed by three men. That’s according to a probable cause affidavit from a Houston Police Department homicide detective obtained by HuffPost. Her body was never found.
“There was a text message that purported to be from her, but it didn’t seem like her,” said Samuel Milledge, her boss and family spokesman. said Houston’s KPRC-TV by the time. Milledge did not respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
Jimenez-Rodriguez’s older sister was alarmed when the babysitter contacted her and told her that, according to authorities and her family, Jimenez-Rodriguez never returned to pick up her daughter and did not respond to calls or text messages. Her sister used OnStar to track her truck, which was parked near a freight yard in northeast Houston, the affidavit says, just a few blocks from the babysitter’s home. Jimenez-Rodriguez’s purse and cellphone were missing and her sister reported her missing to police later that evening.
When questioned about her disappearance, Arceneaux told investigators that Jimenez-Rodriguez was his girlfriend and that he had last seen her on the evening of June 20 and that he expected her to see him for a job interview at 9 a.m. the next day to pick her up, the newspaper said in a police affidavit, but she never showed up.
Jimenez-Rodriguez’s sister denied that the two were a couple. tells Houston’s Fox 26 that he was a physical trainer at a gym who had been stalking her.
Investigators said Arceneaux’s daughter received 11 calls from her father on June 21 in which he said he was scared and worried that “something bad” had happened to Jimenez-Rodriguez.
Investigators said cell phone data and security footage placed Arceneaux at the spot where Jimenez-Rodriguez’s car was later found. On surveillance video, investigators said, her car could be seen driving through the area, and a man his daughter later identified as Arceneaux was seen leaving the area shortly afterward.
Jimenez-Rodriguez and Arceneaux’s phones had been traveling together throughout the day, investigators said, and ended up at a Home Depot store around 6:30 p.m. Surveillance video from the store allegedly showed Arceneaux arriving alone and then purchasing an electric chainsaw and a box of 42-gallon industrial trash bags at the checkout counter. Both phones are said to have been located together on the way to Arceneaux’s house.
Luminol tests later conducted at Arceneaux’s home showed evidence of blood on the walls and ceiling of his bedroom, which someone had tried to clean, authorities said.
Authorities issued an arrest warrant for Arceneaux in August 2019 on suspicion of murder in connection with Jimenez-Rodriguez’s disappearance and the use of a chainsaw to dismember and dispose of her body. However, authorities were unable to locate him until he did arrested by U.S. Marshals last week outside a business in southeast Houston.
Arceneaux previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2010, admitting that he drove around town with a gun pointed at his then-girlfriend’s head and threatened to kill her, court records show. Over the years he was missing, the U.S. Marshals Service described him as a “violent and dangerous man.”
The Harris County district attorney and Arceneaux’s attorney did not respond to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, Arceneaux’s bail was initially set at $250,000 before it was revoked. He is currently being held in the Harris County Jail.