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Texas Teen Cheerleader Found Dead in Bathtub by Mom Was Stabbed to Death, Suspect is Arrested
"It was just her and I against the world, and they took her from me," said Jacqueline Medina, the mother of 16-year-old Lizbeth Medina.
A 16-year-old Texas cheerleader, whose body was found by her mother in a bathtub at the family’s home last week, was fatally stabbed, authorities said.
Rafael Govea Romero, 23, was arrested on December 9 in connection with the grisly slaying of Lizbeth Medina. He was charged with capital murder and was taken into custody in Schulenburg, Texas by both Edna police officers and Texas Rangers, the Edna Police Department announced. Officials haven’t specified a motive.
On December 5, Medina was found unresponsive in the bathtub in her home at the Cottonwood Apartments in Edna, a small town of roughly 6,000 people, about 100 miles southwest of Houston, police said. First responders unsuccessfully attempted life-saving measures before pronouncing her dead at the scene.
How was Lizbeth Medina killed?
On Monday, police confirmed in an update that Medina had been stabbed to death.
“Although Romero is apprehended, we recognize Lizbeth’s family and friends are grieving and will still need support from the community,” the Edna Police Department said in a statement. “The citizens of Edna can now sleep in peace!”
Images shared by authorities of Romero’s booking showed him in a gray hoodie and black shorts, handcuffed with his hands behind his back.
“We continue to lift Lizbeth’s family in prayer and pray this arrest has helped bring some peace,” Edna Police Chief Rick Boone added in a separate statement on Sunday.
Prior to Romero’s arrest, authorities had issued a photo of a suspected person of interest running and wearing a black Volcom hoodie. The person, police say, is Romero. He was also allegedly seen operating a 2010 to 2018 silver Ford Taurus. Several evidentiary items were retrieved from the car by detectives, police say. Authorities haven’t disclosed what exact evidence was confiscated.
According to authorities, Romero is in the U.S. with an expired visa and is currently undocumented. It’s unknown if Medina and Romero knew each other. The suspect is not known to Medina’s family.
Medina was a cheerleader at Edna High School, her family said. She’d been scheduled to be at a Christmas parade with her cheer squad the night she was murdered, her family said, the Victoria Advocate reported.
Lizbeth’s grieving mother, Jacqueline Medina, described her daughter as a close “friend.”
"She was bubbly, happy, funny,” Jacqueline told KTRK-TV. “Basically, my friend. We grew up together. I had her when I was only 16. It was just her and I against the world, and they took her from me."
Medina was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, according to relatives. Her family has since set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help raise money to cover funeral expenses. As of Thursday, the online campaign had raised more than $21,000.
The case remains open and active. Romero is being held on a $2 million bond at a Jackson County detention center, jail officials confirmed to Oxygen.com. It’s unclear if he has yet entered a plea or retained legal counsel to comment on his behalf. No court date information was immediately available.