An elderly couple were found dead amidst a bloody and brutal scene of violence inside their home in the spring of 2005. Now, nearly two decades later, police believe they’ve found the killer.
Shelley Susan Thompson-Lemoine, 41, was arrested in Angleton, Texas on Friday. She hails from Freeport, Texas and was picked up outside of a parole office, according to Houston-based ABC affiliate KTRK.
She is currently being detained in the Liberty County Jail, according to the Bluebonnet News.
In mid-April 2005, 80-year-old WWII veteran Antonio Rodriguez and 77-year-old Luz Rodriguez were found beaten and strangled to death inside their own home in Cleveland, Texas. The gruesome discovery was made by their daughter, Carolina Tejeda, who came over that day to make her parents lunch, according to the Montgomery County Police Reporter. She believed her parents were sleeping, so she went inside. First she found her father on the floor; then her mother in the bedroom.
She waited years and years for some progress.
“I knew it would come,” Tejeda told KTRK. “I didn’t know this long, but I knew this day would come. The community has always kept our parents in their prayers, and we’re just very thankful, and God is good.”
“They didn’t give up on my mom and dad’s case,” she added. “They worked really hard.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety eulogized the deceased couple in a statement obtained by the Bluebonnet News:
In 1984 they sold their business in San Benito and moved to Cleveland, where they were active community members and were involved with the Cleveland VFW Post 1839. The couple operated a small Mexican food restaurant from their home that served shift workers who worked at a local plywood mill. The Rodriguezes were known to cater to workers at odd hours of the day and night and were a beloved part of the local Hispanic community for the hospitality they extended to everyone they encountered.
Investigators found DNA throughout the Rodriguez residence that they believed might lead them to a potential suspect – including on a carpet and a bloody fingerprint on the side of a denture container, according to the Police Reporter. But the case eventually went cold and stayed that way until 2021.
That year, Thompson-Lemoine was imprisoned on an unrelated drug conviction. Finally, a potential hit came up on the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. A renewed investigation ensued.
Texas Ranger Brandon Bess led Cleveland detectives to the prison in Gatesville, Texas. The defendant denied any participation of the crime, any knowledge of the victims, or ever having even been to Cleveland, but she provided a buccal swab for DNA comparison purposes.
In 2022, the DNA was confirmed to be a match, investigators allege.
“Sometimes such small pieces of evidence can solve a case and in this case that piece of carpet that was found inside the home that had a speckle of blood on it,” Cleveland Police Department Chief Darrel Broussard told Houston-based CBS affiliate KHOU.
On July 5, 2022, a warrant was issued for Thompson-Lemoine’s arrest. She had recently been released from prison and was living in the small Gulf of Mexico-adjacent community when she was arrested for the long-mysterious double murder so many states away.
“I have never seen her,” Tejeda told KTRK, stressing she thought there were likely others involved. “I don’t recognize her name or anything.”
A motive for the slaying is still unclear.
The couple reportedly had 10 children and three nephews. Another one of their daughters expressed her gratitude at the developments in comments reported by the Houston Chronicle.
“We thought we would never get justice,” Juanita Espinosa said. “I thank God and I thank the Rangers and everybody that put their part into it.”
[image via Bluebonnet News with permission]
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said the Rodriguezes lived in Cleveland, Ohio. The couple lived in Cleveland, Texas.
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