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Crime

Texas Girl Found Dead in Well After Vanishing from Church — and Relative Is Arrested

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Youcaring.com

The body of a missing 10-year-old Texas girl who had last been seen in church last Tuesday was found Saturday at the bottom of a well — and her relative has been charged in her death, PEOPLE confirms.

Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 24, who is married to the cousin of Kayla Gomez-Orozco, was charged with capital murder, Smith County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Laura Parsons tells PEOPLE.

Kayla’s body was discovered close to Zavala-Garcia’s home near Tyler, Parsons says. Sheriff Larry Smith said at a Tuesday press conference that the well was approximately 25 to 28 feet deep and there was 6 to 8 feet of water at the bottom of it.

Authorities have not revealed a motive or Kayla’s cause of death.

An AMBER Alert was put out for Kayla after she was reported missing by her family, who last saw her at a 7:30 p.m. service at the First Assembly of God church in Bullard, Parsons says.

According to Parsons, Kayla’s family told authorities she got bored and left the room to wait in the church’s lobby, but when her mother went to check on her an hour later, Kayla was gone.

At Tuesday’s press conference, District Attorney Matt Bingham said, “Kayla has become a part of everyone in this community. Her story has become our story. For all the men and women that were out there when she was pulled out of that well, she has become our own daughter and we are going to get justice for her.”

Courtesy Smith County Jail
Courtesy Smith County Jail

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Zavala-Garcia was living in the United States illegally, Parsons says. He had previously pleaded guilty to misdemeanor family violence from a 2014 incident and served 30 days in jail, a Smith County District Attorney’s Office spokesman says, adding that he was never deported.

He is currently being held on a $10 million bond and a detainer for immigration hold.

Zavala-Garcia’s court-appointed attorney, Jeff Haas, tells PEOPLE he has not yet spoken to his client. Zavala-Garcia has not yet entered a plea and no date has been set for his court appearance.

A fundraising page has been set up for Kayla’s family.