Human remains found Friday in a Lubbock backyard were positively identified as Zoe Campos, Lubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens said during a Wednesday news conference.
The remains were discovered in the 1900 block of 70th Street on Friday. The Lubbock Police Department learned of the remains’ identity Wednesday morning from the Lubbock County medical examiner’s office, Stevens said.
Campos was 18 years old when she disappeared in November 2013. For five years, Campos was considered a missing person.
Carlos Andrew Rodriquez, 25, was charged with murder after he confessed and led officers to the body in the backyard of his former residence.
Rodriquez became the primary suspect “a few months ago,” Stevens said. He was a person of interest early in the case, Stevens said, because he was known to be the last person to see Campos alive.
In recent months, police learned enough new information to pursue Rodriquez as a suspect, Stevens said.
There was not sufficient evidence early in the investigation to allow police to dig up the backyard, Stevens said. Through the years, numerous leads were followed.
“It took as long as it takes,” Stevens said when asked why the investigation took five years to determine a suspect and find Campos’ remains.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the medical examiner’s office has not confirmed a cause and manner of death, Stevens said. Campos’ body was identified through dental records and other forensic analysis.
According to Rodriquez’s arrest warrant, Rodriquez admitted he met Campos though a mutual friend on Nov. 17, 2013.
In the early morning hours of Nov. 18, Campos drove him to his home where Rodriquez said they smoked synthetic marijuana, according to the warrant.
Rodriquez told officers he lost control and struck Campos in the face.
According to the warrant, “Rodriquez then placed Zoe Campos in a ‘rear naked choke’ and strangled her until she was dead.”
The arrest warrant states Rodriquez buried the body and later moved it to another location in the yard, where it remained until Friday’s police discovery. Hours later, Rodriquez was charged with murder.
“One of the most important things for the police department to be able to reassure the public is that the man responsible for Zoe’s disappearance is not out on the streets,” Stevens said.
Rodriquez has been in police custody since he was arrested on Nov. 16, 2017, for stalking. In that case, he was sentenced in October to four years in prison.
Stevens sends the “deepest and most heartfelt condolences” to the Campos family. He spoke with the family shortly before the news conference to tell them the remains were those of Zoe Campos.
“I hope it was a degree of relief,” Stevens said. “I think it was, if for no other reason than just finally knowing, finally knowing that she’s not out lost. She’s not out suffering, and so if anything, at least that part of this tragedy is now behind them.”
With Campos’ remains identified, Stevens said he understands a new process of grieving begins for the family. Family members ask for their privacy at this time.
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