January 7, 2014

A fight over the theft of drugs and money led to slaying, police say

A Fort Worth police detective said Joshua Gonzales shot Ryan Rice several times because she threatened to tell police that he sexually assaulted her.

This report includes graphic descriptions of violence.

A 29-year-old woman found dead in Rockwood Park on Dec. 15 was beaten for several hours before she was shot multiple times, according to the arrest warrant affidavits for the couple accused of killing her.

Jennifer and Joshua Gonzales, both 33, of Fort Worth face capital murder charges in the fatal shooting of Ryan Major Rice. Rice was sexually assaulted, kidnapped and murdered Dec. 5, Fort Worth police Detective W.D. Paine wrote in arrest warrant affidavits.

Rice’s body was found near the park’s baseball fields in the 700 block of Rock Cress Drive, police said.

The couple, who were divorced in October but evidently reunited, gave police different accounts of what led to Rice’s death.

According to an affidavit, on Dec. 5 Jennifer Gonzales confronted Rice about stealing prescription pills and money from her home in the 3300 block of Northwest 30th Street, and the confrontation grew into a fight.

Jennifer Gonzales told a Fort Worth police investigator that when Rice lifted her shirt, money and pills fell to the ground. Rice then pulled down her pants, and money could be seen “in her vaginal area,” the affidavits said.

According to Jennifer Gonzales, Rice hit Gonzales in the head with an object and the two women started fighting. Joshua Gonzales broke up the fight, the affidavits said.

Police interviewed a witness who said that Joshua Gonzales admitted killing Rice. Joshua Gonzales told the witness that he held one leg while Jennifer Gonzales held the other leg and he put his finger in Rice’s vagina to retrieve money and/or pills she had stolen, the affidavits said.

Rice threatened to tell police that Joshua Gonzales had sexually assaulted her and he told the witness that he knew “he had to take care of her,” according to the affidavits.

In an interview with police, Joshua Gonzales said Jennifer Gonzales beat Rice and then they drove to Rockwood Park while Rice was restrained in their vehicle, an affidavit said. Joshua Gonzales then shot Rice several times, according to an affidavit.

Rice’s body showed severe bruises, several broken teeth and damage to her face and body, the affidavits said.

Police reviewed text messages from Joshua Gonzales dated Dec. 6 that said Rice was beaten for several hours and then sexually assaulted before she was shot once in the head and four times in the chest, according to the affidavit. An investigator with the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office said Rice was shot in the vaginal area as well, the affidavits said.

Both Gonzaleses remained in the Tarrant County Jail on Tuesday. Bail was set at $200,000 for Jennifer Gonzales, who also uses the name Jennifer Sullivan Cooley, and $500,000 for Joshua Gonzales, who also spells his last name Gonzalez.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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