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Crime News Murders

Houston Man Charged in Slaying of Ex-Girlfriend Whose Body Was Found in Trunk

Ariel Cruz, 19, is being held on a $500,000 bond at a Harris County jail, according to online records reviewed by Oxygen.com.

By Dorian Geiger
A police image of Ariel Cruz

A Houston man has been jailed in connection with the death of his 21-year-old ex-girlfriend, whose body turned up in a trunk this week.

Ariel Cruz, 19, has been charged with the murder of Idania Campos, who vanished on Tuesday, according to the Houston Police Department. Authorities did not identify Campos by name, pending an autopsy, but multiple reports by local media outlets including KTRK-TV, KRIV, and KPRC-TV listed her as the victim.

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When did Idania Campos go missing?

Campos was reported missing on November 28 after her loved ones learned she failed to show up to her college classes that day. Family members later tracked her car to an area on Indigo St. in the southwest Houston neighborhood of Meyerland, where they discovered the missing woman’s black Honda Civic parked on the street.

Campos’ loved ones scoured the area and went door-to-door asking neighbors if they’d seen her, however, they were unable to find any signs of the young woman. Campos’ phone and purse could be seen inside her car’s interior. Later that evening, a relative of Campos forced his way into the Honda and popped the trunk, where her body was found.

A personal photo of Idania Maria Campos Muñoz

What happened to Idania Campos?

"They were able to track her car to this location,” Houston police Lt. Larry Crowson said, according to KPRC-TV.  “The relatives made entry into the car, looked in the trunk, and found the body of their relative in the trunk.” Campos suffered trauma to her face, law enforcement said. An official cause or manner of death hasn’t yet been released.

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"We’re very, very upset," Campos’ aunt Bobbie Munoz said following the gruesome discovery, KRIV reported. "We’re hurt and saddened that she was taken from us this way, and by somebody we’ve had in this home."

Ariel Cruz took part in search efforts for Idania Campos

Cruz, authorities and Campos’ family said, participated in initial search efforts with the missing woman’s family. Further investigation pointed detectives to the 19-year-old man as a suspect. He allegedly subsequently confessed to murdering Campos while being interviewed by detectives. 

“We want justice for her,” said Yanet Campos, another aunt of the slain woman. “She was a nice niece, goddaughter, and I feel so bad. Like my heart is [breaking], she was a good girl.” 

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Campos’ family said that Cruz even consoled family members as they searched for the missing woman in the immediate aftermath of her disappearance.

"It’s despicable,” Munoz added. “It’s unimaginable that he would do this and hold us, and be with us while we cried, and we suffered while looking for her, knowing where she was the whole time.”

A motive in Campos’ murder hasn’t been released. No further information was available from authorities. 

However, Campos’ family said the couple, who dated for only a few months, had broken up roughly six months ago and that Cruz wanted to get back together with her. They suspect he’d also been seeing another woman, who Campos’ family are urging police to also investigate. Relatives of Campos also accused Cruz of brandishing an unloaded firearm at a sibling’s birthday party on November 26. Relatives didn’t cite a specific reason for the former couple’s split. 

Cruz is being held on a $500,000 bond at a Harris County detention facility, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if he’s obtained an attorney to comment on his behalf.

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