Rio Grande City native, 27-year-old Valeria Salinas was shot and killed in her parents’ home on Saturday night. Salinas had driven down from Houston with her brother and roommate hours before.
The night was supposed to be a quiet one for the woman. Her parents left the home with another family member and to bring back ice cream. Salinas stayed to watch a basketball game and look after her bedridden grandmother. Minutes later her parents arrived at their home located on San Agustin in El Chaparral Subdivision to find the woman lying in a pool of blood. An ambulance was called but Salinas had lost her life.
Moments later the Rio Grande City Police Department, Starr County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Rangers processed the crime scene. By the following day the Starr County Sheriff’s Office released a name calling Ismael Mares Jr. a person of interest in the case. The 41-year-old was already wanted on a parole violation and two smaller cases. Just before 3pm on Sunday, April 21st in a collaborative operation the Starr County Sheriff’s Office SRT and the Rio Grande City Police Department were able to apprehend Mares in his home. The operation was initiated after receiving vital information through HIDTA investigators and Texas Rangers. His capture was considered without additional incident but video taken by his own family and made public on social media does show him attempting to escape out the window. A female voice even mentions “escápate” or escape as they confront members of law enforcement.
During the day screenshots of what appeared to be a conversation between Maria Leyva and Mares Jr. were made public. Leyva also tells Mares Jr. to hide. Several search warrants were executed at the home of the suspect including one in which law enforcement attempted to question Leyva but she was not home. On Monday a female who identified herself as Maria Leyva’s daughter asked that this publication not mention Maria Leyva because she was not a suspect. She further claimed that her mother is a victim of Mares and had been separated from him. However, the messages posted on social media seem to conflict with her claims.
Few details have been released into what transpired the night that Valeria Salinas was killed but investigators believe that burglary could have been a motive.
Ismael Mares Jr. is being held on a parole violation and remains in custody as investigators gather evidence for him to be charged in the vicious killing of an innocent woman. Mares was serving a 15 year sentence and had been released in January of 2018.