Harlingen Police Turn to Public for Help in Finding Teen’s Body
HARLINGEN – The file of a 13-year-old Harlingen girl sits in the records department at the Harlingen Police Department after her alleged killer was sentenced on Wednesday.
Ruben Torres pleaded no contest to charges relating to her disappearance and murder. He is serving an 18-year prison sentence.
Estrada was last seen alive in June 2007. Harlingen police said the trial is over, the case is closed but the teen’s body has yet to be recovered.
It’s been nearly a decade of following leads, interviewing witnesses and digging up evidence that lead to Torres’ trial.
“Every tip that was received, we followed up on it,” Deputy Chief Hector Leal said. He works in the criminal investigations at the Harlingen Police Department. He is familiar with the 2007 case.
Leal said 10 detectives worked on Estrada’s case since her disappearance.
“She was a juvenile. And the feeling that I’m sure her family has as to trying to get this case solved. It means a lot to me and to everybody here at the police department,” he said.
The last tip came into the police in early 2016. They worked alongside the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.
Estrada was last seen with Torres in June 2007. The two were in a relationship at the time of her disappearance. Torres was 16.
It’s believed Torres killed Estrada because she was a witness in a drive-by shooting in which Torres was involved.
The accused man took a deal with the state on Wednesday. It happened before the start of his second day at trial. He pleaded no contest, which means he isn’t admitting or denying to what happened.
“A lot of detectives, a lot of police officers, a lot of people put time into this investigation. And I think they did the best they could and that’s why I think this was the outcome,” Leal said.
Her body hasn’t been recovered. Her family pleaded with Torres in court to tell them where she was.
Investigators will rely on the public to connect them to the last piece of the case.
Anyone with information can contact Harlingen police at 428-8477.
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