More than 17 years after a beloved World War II veteran and his wife were found beaten and strangled to death in their Texas home, authorities have arrested a suspect in the double homicide.
Shelley Susan Thompson-Lemoine, 41, was arrested Friday on capital murder charges in the death of 80-year-old WWII veteran Antonio Rodriguez and his 77-year-old wife, Luz Rodriguez, KTRK reports.
The couple’s daughter, Carolina Tejeda, stumbled upon the grisly crime scene at their home on April 14, 2005, after going to her parents Cleveland, Texas home — 45 miles northwest of Houston — to make them lunch, according to The Montgomery County Police Reporter.
When they didn’t answer the door, she thought they might be asleep. She went inside the home and found her father lying on the floor and her mother dead in the couple's bed. They had been beaten and strangled to death.
Police dogs were able to track the scent of a suspect across some railroad tracks to a nearby apartment complex, but were unable to lead investigators any further than that, according to KHOU.
Blood from an unknown suspect was found on a large rug on the couple’s home and the DNA was entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS, but there were no hits at the time.
For years, the case went cold — until CODIS found a match to the DNA in March 2021.
The DNA, CODIS said, was was linked to Thompson-Lemoine, who was then serving time in Texas prison for an unrelated drug offense.
Although she denied knowing the Rodriguez family and having any involvement in the crime, another DNA sample taken from her at the prison for comparison was matched to the crime scene in 2022.
She was arrested on Friday outside her parole office.
"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 speck of blood on it," Cleveland Police Chief Darrel Broussad told the news outlet.
Oxygen.com reached out to Broussad and the Texas Department of Public Safety but did not receive an immediate response.
For the couple’s family, it was a welcome development in a case that has continued to haunt the family.
"I knew it would come. I didn't know this long, but I knew this day would come," their daughter, Tejeda, told KTRK. "The community has always kept our parents in their prayers, and we're just very thankful, and God is good."
The couple had been a beloved fixture in Cleveland and were known for their kindness — even operating a small Mexican food restaurant from their home to serve shift workers 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,” the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement obtained by Bluebonnet News.
Tejeda said that she believes more people could have been involved in the slaying, and that she did not know and had never even seen Thompson-Lemoine.
Martin Rodriguez — another one of the couple’s 10 children — told Bluebonnet News that he believes the arrest is the first step in helping the family heal from the tragedy.
“I have seen the hand of God at work today. Our family is extremely relieved that there is activity in our parents’ homicide,” he said. “We are grateful for the efforts of the Texas Rangers — particularly Ranger Bess — Cleveland Police Department and the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office. They have shown that they do care about what happened to our parents. They have restored our hope and faith in the justice system.”