iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Houston police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 6-week-old baby who went missing after her mother was found stabbed to death Tuesday morning.
A family member discovered Carolina Flores, 33, dead with multiple stab wounds in a northeast Houston apartment Tuesday morning, and her daughter, Chamali Flores, was nowhere to be found, authorities said.
The suspect is likely familiar with the family and the neighborhood and may be a woman who “may present the child as her own,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Acevedo described the case as a “tough one” to fathom considering the approaching Christmas holiday, calling on the public to contact authorities in the event that they have heard or seen “anything suspicious.”
Suspicious activity could include someone who “all of a sudden has a child,” especially if there is no previous knowledge of that person being pregnant, Acevedo said. Investigators would also like to speak to anyone who lost a child recently or who may be trying to pass the 6-week-old off as a newborn, Acevedo said.
The police chief acknowledged that there is “mistrust” from members of the immigrant community toward police, reminding those who may have information that they can provide tips anonymously. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to any arrest.
“We want to make sure that people understand that our one focus … our only goal is to bring justice to this family and that baby back to where [she] belongs,” Acevedo said. “We’re not interested in anybody’s immigration status.”
Flores was in the country illegally from Honduras, her cousin, Jenny Lopez, told ABC Houston station KTRK-TV. Lopez said that she sensed something may have been wrong when Flores began to act differently and refused to talk about Chamali’s father, but she believes Flores was hesitant to go to police since she was undocumented.
“She came out here to get something,” Lopez told ABC affiliate KTRK-TV on Tuesday. “[She] came out here to provide for her kids and to get something out of life because in Honduras there’s nothing.”
Police believe Flores died between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at the Magnolia Cove Apartments on Goodson Drive, Acevedo said, and an AMBER Alert was issued shortly after.
The baby’s father, 34-year-old Marcos Mariano Tomas Palacios, was initially a person of interest in the case. While Acevedo wouldn’t rule Palacios out as a suspect “100 percent,” he described him as being “forthright and cooperative” in the investigation.
When investigators located Palacios in San Antonio, Texas, he did not have the child and denied any involvement in the murder, police said.
The FBI has deployed a rapid abduction response team as well as bloodhounds to aid in the search for baby Chamali, Douglas Williams, assistant FBI special agent-in-charge, said at Tuesday’s press conference.
“This little baby needs to be back with her family,” Acevedo said.
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