Crime

Family member suspected in death of 10-year-old Tyler girl

A family member was in the Smith County Jail on Sunday in connection with the death of a 10-year-old Tyler girl whose remains were found Saturday in East Texas.

Suspect Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was in jail on an immigration hold, authorities said. Information as to how he was related to the girl was not immediately available.

“Additional charges are anticipated on this individual soon,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said via an FBI news release.

The girl, Kayla Gomez-Orozco, disappeared Tuesday during a prayer service at the Bullard First Assembly Church in Bullard, a town of about 2,700 residents that straddles the Cherokee-Smith county line, south of Tyler. An Amber Alert was issued Wednesday morning.

Zavala-Garcia, who lived at the residence where Kayla’s body was recovered, voluntarily accompanied law enforcement officials to be questioned, according to the release. The search for evidence related to her disappearance and death continued Sunday at that location.

A tip Saturday evening led officers to her remains, which were found in a water well. An autopsy was being performed Sunday at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

“We assure you there will be no stone unturned as we enter the next phase of this investigation,” Smith said. “We will utilize all available assets at the local, state and federal level of law enforcement to see that justice is swift and thorough for Kayla and her family.”

This story contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan McFarland: 817-390-7984, @susanmcfarland1

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