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A Texas man has been arrested on charges related to the suspicious death of a missing 24-year-old mother of four whose body turned up in a car trunk after vanishing last month.
Christopher Maldonado, 46, was taken into custody on June 10 in connection with the death of Angela Leeann Mitchell by the U.S. Marshals, the Texas City Police Department announced last week. He was charged with second-degree tampering or fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair a human corpse, according to online court records obtained by Oxygen.com, as well as an unrelated charge of family assault.
The Texas City Police Department have described the case as a homicide investigation and said that additional charges against Maldonado could be forthcoming.
However, it’s currently unknown how Mitchell died, or if, in fact, she was murdered.
“We haven’t got the toxicology results back from the lab so right now the [cause of] death is pending,” David Florence, the chief investigator at Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office told Oxygen.com on Tuesday morning.
A preliminary autopsy showed that Mitchell had no visible signs of trauma on her body, according to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office. Officials need the toxicology results to potentially determine an official cause and manner of death.
Florence, who said toxicology results typically take between four and six weeks, expects the lab work in Mitchell’s case to be returned in the coming days.
“It should be back soon, I’ll put it to you like that,” Florence said.
Florence called the characterization of Mitchell’s death as homicide presumptive, given the inconclusive results from ongoing post-mortem investigation.
“It doesn’t have to be a homicide,” Florence told Oxygen.com. “I’ve seen drug overdoses where people who are with them don’t want to be associated with them — and they’ll take them, and dump bodies in different places. I’ve seen that before.”
Mitchell’s remains were recovered from a trunk of a sedan in front of a residential property in Texas City on May 12. She’d been reported missing by her mother a week earlier on May 5.
Mitchell was a mother to two sons and two daughters, according to KHOU. Her children are all under the age of 10.
“They just put her in her trunk,” her mother, Georgia Mitchell, told the Houston station last month. “Threw her away like she was a piece of garbage. My baby is not a piece of garbage.”
"She didn't deserve for someone to take her life," her mother told KTRK. "She's not a bad person."
Prior to Mitchell’s remains being recovered, the Texas woman’s family had criticized law enforcement for what they perceived was indifference towards the young mother’s disappearance.
"I just wanted to find my baby,” Mitchell added. “I just wanted somebody to help me, and nobody was helping me.”
A spokesperson for the Texas City Police Department declined to comment on the active case when contacted by Oxygen.com on Tuesday morning.
A $5,000 reward was previously issued by Mainland Community Crime Stoppers for any information leading to an arrest or charges in connection with Mitchell’s death. Police haven’t specified how or whether Maldonado and Mitchell knew each other.
No further information was released by law enforcement this week.
Maldonado had a preliminary court appearance on June 11, according to court records. A judge subsequently set his bond at $200,000. He has requested a public defender, although specific attorney information wasn’t immediately available for him this week.
In February 2019, Maldonado was arrested on a trio of charges after he struck a woman with his fist, according to a separate criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. He later plead nolo contendere to assault, additional court filings show.
Anyone with further information pertaining to the open case is urged to contact Detective R. Cardona at 409-643-5733 or Detective J. Reynolds at 409-643-5836. Additionally, tips can also be submitted anonymously via a Crime Stoppers by calling 409-945-8477 (TIPS).
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