Maria Jimenez-Rodriguez went missing five years ago, but this week, a man suspected of killing her — and using a chainsaw to dismember her body — was arrested and charged with her 2018 murder, according to the Houston Police Department.
Authorities arrested Eric Fardell Arceneaux, 51, outside a business in Houston on Friday and subsequently charged him with Jimenez-Rodriguez’s slaying. The body of the 29-year-old mother of a special needs child has not yet been found.
Public arrest records show Arceneaux’s bail is $250,000, and he remains in custody.
According to local NBC affiliate KPRC-TV, blood evidence, GPS surveillance and security footage connected Arceneaux to the woman’s murder five years ago. Jimenez-Rodriguez reportedly disappeared one afternoon after dropping her young daughter off at a babysitter’s house in Houston.
The next day, a flurry of text messages were sent from her phone to a co-worker that raised suspicions among friends and family that something was off, police said. The messages purportedly coming from Jimenez-Rodriguez stated that the babysitter told her she needed to pick her child up. In another message, she told her co-worker she thought she was being followed.
When she didn’t show up for work the next day, however, her sister reported her missing. A family spokesperson told reporters this week that they didn’t believe the person sending the messages was Jimenez-Rodriguez but rather Arceneaux pretending to be her to evade suspicions. The spokesman also told KPRC-TV that the babysitter said she never told Jimenez-Rodriguez to retrieve her child the day she disappeared.
A car belonging to Jimenez-Rodriguez was found 24 hours after her family filed the missing persons report. Phone records reviewed by police also reportedly showed that Arceneaux’s phone and hers were in the same space together on the day she went missing, even up to the hour police believed she vanished. Her phone was also with him when Arceneaux visited a Home Depot later that day and was seen on security footage purchasing an electric chainsaw and trash bags. A review of his home also found blood spattered on the walls and ceiling.
In 2019, Jimenez-Rodriguez’s sister, Gloria Rodriguez, told reporters she believed Arceneaux was a stalker and that she had no knowledge of them having a prior relationship.
Court records reportedly described him as the missing woman’s boyfriend. Arceneaux’s daughter — unrelated to Jimenez-Rodriguez— told police that he used to beat her mother when she was a child. The woman said she believed Jimenez-Rodriguez may have been trying to break off a relationship with her father before she went missing.
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