Family Seeks Justice 29 Years After Rio Hondo Teen Killed
RIO HONDO – The family of a Rio Hondo teen killed nearly 29 years ago still awaits justice for their loved one's killer.
Fifteen-year-old Michael Flores was shot while he was inside his bedroom on the 200 block of Forrest Street. The crime happened on Sept. 26, 1988.
Javier Vallavaruz, who was a teenager at the time of the murder, still lives two houses down from Michael's old house.
"We never thought something like that would happen in small town here," he said.
Vallavaruz said Michael's murder still haunts the city, but not like it haunts his mother, Maria Helena Flores.
"That sound and falling on the floor, I heard him," she said.
Flores said two of her four kids were watching a high school band practice for an upcoming football game.
One of the sisters was in the band along with some of their mutual friends. When practice was over, Flores said they all hitched a ride home with a friend.
Flores said when Michael walked into the house, he was optimistic of the future. She said that day, he decided what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“He was interested in mechanics but the computerized part of fixing cars, doing that kind of stuff,” she said.
After their talk, Flores said Michael went into his room and turned up the stereo full blast. She recalled telling him to turn the volume down.
"It was just a couple of minutes. After that, we heard the gunshot," the mother said.
Flores said she though it was fireworks. She had heard them so many times before in the alley but this time, she heard a thud too close to be outside.
"He was on his knees, face down into a pillow," she recalled.
Flores said Michael had a single gunshot wound to the head. At the scene, police found very few clues.
But a person of interest would soon emerge, although Flores said there wasn't enough evidence to bring about any charges.
"We had to go on. There wasn't a choice. We had to go on,” she said. “We had to keep working. When we didn't want to, I knew my kids... they need me."
Flores said days turned into months and months turned into years.
One month shy of the 29th anniversary of Michael's murder, there are still no arrests. In spite of the time passed, Flores said she still has hope.
"I do think the ones that saw something, heard something might have been afraid to talk to their parents, might not have wanted them to talk, say anything to get involved," said Flores' mother, Maria Helena. "They might have thought that what they knew was some little thing that might not be important, but every little thing is important in trying to solve a case."
Michael's family said the gun used in his murder was never found.
The Texas Rangers continue their investigation into the case. It's labeled as one of the Rangers' top 12 cold case investigations.
If you have any information about the case, call Texas Crime Stoppers at 1-800-252-8477.