A judge in Houston set bond on Thursday for a teenager accused of strangling and beating his mother to death before traveling cross-country with her corpse in the trunk of her stolen 2011 Mazda 3.
Tyler Roenz, 17, stands accused of one count each of murder, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and tampering with evidence over the slaying of 49-year-old Michelle Roenz in October 2022.
In response to a defense request, a Harris County judge set the defendant’s bond on the murder charge at $750,000; set his bond on tampering with a corpse charge at $250,000; and set his bond on the unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge at $50,000, Harris County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Calligan told local CBS affiliate KHOU.
A separate, unrelated attempted sexual assault charge had a bond set at $10,000, Calligan added. The defendant was already out on bond for a third-degree felony at the time his mother was killed.
In sum, Roenz had a bond assessed in excess of $1 million – with strict bond conditions should he be able to pay for his pre-trial release.
“The judge has made it clear that he’s not to have contact with his father or go near his father’s residence,” Calligan explained. “If he gets out, has to be on 24-hour house arrest with an ankle monitor.”
The defendant, however, previously lived in the family’s house – where his father still lives – so if he’s able to post bond, Roenz would need to obtain accommodations with “somebody else willing to take him in,” the ADA said.
On Oct. 13, 2022, the 17-year-old and his 49-year-old mother were both reported missing by the teenager’s father, who is also the victim’s husband. That report was filed after he came home to find a human tooth in the garage, and a trail of blood leading to the master bedroom where there was a large pool of blood and four additional teeth.
The husband of the deceased woman also reported that his wife’s Mazda was gone. A trail quickly appeared based on a series of credit card purchases in Michelle Roenz’s name that had been made at gas stations leading to Kansas, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Soon enough, the missing Mazda was spotted in Nebraska.
Authorities in Texas gave word to the Nebraska State Police that the car was believed to be traveling within the Cornhusker State and linked to a recent homicide. Some 15 minutes after that alert, state troopers said they caught sight of the car and attempted a traffic stop – which then led to a brief high-speed chase.
After allegedly traveling for roughly nine miles, at speeds in excess of 110 mph, the Mazda quickly rear-ended a semi-truck and careened off the road, slamming into a tree near Aurora, Nebraska.
The defendant was seriously injured in the ensuing crash and taken to a hospital where his condition was said to be serious, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at the time. The body of a deceased woman was found in the trunk of the Mazda, the sheriff added.
The defendant was detained in Nebraska and later extradited back to Texas.
The deceased woman was soon identified as Roenz’s mother. Her cause of death was determined to be strangulation and blunt force trauma, according to authorities. The exact circumstances surrounding her death, however, are still unknown and prosecutors have yet to publicly float a presumed motive for why the defendant allegedly killed his mother and then traveled out of state.
[image via Harris County Sheriff’s Office]
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