More than a year after a Texas woman went missing, investigators have accused her boyfriend of killing and dismembering her and now they are trying to track him down.
Erik Fardell Arceneaux, 47, has been charged with murder in connection with the disappearance and death of his girlfriend, 29-year-old Maria Rodriguez, the Houston Police Department announced Thursday.
Rodriguez was last seen alive on June 21, 2018 when she dropped her daughter off with a babysitter and headed to the law firm where she worked as a paralegal. She never made it there.
That day, some of Rodriguez’ coworkers received texts from her phone, indicating that she would be late, KTRK in Houston reports. However, they said that the texts didn’t sound like her.
"Maria was a very good person, who arrived at work early. The day that she didn't come, we got these weird text messages," her boss, Sam Milledge of Milledge Law Firm, PLLC told KTRK.
For one, Rodriguez was calling her daughter by an unfamiliar nickname.
"We knew something was wrong because she doesn't refer to her daughter Destiny, as 'Dest'," Milledge said.
While Arceneaux, who was previously convicted in 2011 of aggravated assault for threatening to kill another woman he was dating, told police he hadn't seen Rodriguez the day she vanished, investigators now say cellphone data puts their phones together.
And, while Rodriguez’s body was never found “an extensive investigation has revealed her boyfriend, Arceneaux, killed her,” police said.
Investigators believe that he used a chainsaw to dismember Rodriguez’s body after killing her, according to court documents obtained by KTRK in Houston. Not only do investigators believe they've linked the couple's phones together the day Rodriguez vanished, but they say they tracked the phones to a Home Depot. Surveillance video from the store allegedly shows a man resembling Arceneaux buying 42-gallon trash bags and an electric chainsaw, My San Antonio reports, citing the court documents. A receipt with Arceneaux’s name matches the items purchased, according to KTKR. Investigators believe he used the items purchased to get rid of Rodriguez's body.
Blood was also allegedly found on the ceiling and walls of Arceneaux’s home.
"That's an animal, that's a monster," Gloria Jimenez, Rodriguez’ sister told KTRK.
"He should have had a heart and thought about the kid, that he was going to leave her without a mother," she added.
Arceneaux remains on the loose and officials are asking for the public’s help in tracking him down. A reward of up to $5,000 is available, according to police. Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Houston Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.