After 18 Months, Police Still Seek Clues on Who Fatally Shot 'Star Wars' Fan at Her Own Garage Sale
Elizabeth Barraza had taken the day off from her job as a data reporter for a pipeline inspection company. The plan was to have a garage sale so she and her husband Sergio would have extra money to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary at Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.
Barraza already had her bags packed -- they were new suitcases that resembled the ones Harry Potter took with him to Hogwarts Castle.
“She had made custom Harry Potter shoes,” Sergio tells PEOPLE. “We were going to have this amazing time together there.”
Tragically, the trip -- which was scheduled for the following weekend -- never happened.
Shortly before 7 a.m. on Jan. 25, 2019, Barraza, 29, was fatally shot in her driveway as she was setting up her garage sale. The shooting occurred just minutes after Sergio had left for work.
A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured a 2013 or newer four-door black Nissan Frontier PRO-4X drive past Barraza’s Tomball, Texas home, before turning around and then parking one house away. A small-statured person with long hair or a wig, wearing a long trench-coat and boots, got out of the pick-up truck and approached Barraza in her driveway.
According to police, Barraza said "good morning" before the unknown suspect pulled out a gun. There was a brief conversation before Barraza was shot four times.
As she lay dying in her driveway, the suspect drove away, but then circled back and drove past the crime scene.
“I feel they contacted somebody and said, ‘Hey, the job’s done,’” Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Michael Ritchie says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “And then that person said, ‘Are you sure?’ And they turned around and drove by the scene one more time.”
More than 18 months later, the case still remains unsolved -- and Barraza's friends and family are still in shock.
“You feel like something extraordinarily evil reached out and intentionally murdered my daughter,” Barraza’s father Robert Nuelle Jr. tells PEOPLE. “This was not a robbery. This was not a gang initiation. This was somebody that wanted to kill my daughter, and did it. That's crazy. It's just unimaginable.”
Nuelle Jr. says his daughter was a kind-hearted special person who was not only obsessed with Harry Potter but also a member, along with Sergio, of the 501st Legion, a fan group that painstakingly re-creates Star Wars villains' costumes. What she enjoyed most about it, he says, was going on character visits to see kids in local hospitals.
“One of the things that really made her stand out was she didn't carry a pistol in her holster,” he says. “She carried a little baby Ewok stuffed animal in her holster so that people would see it.”
For more details on the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Barraza, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Barraza’s best friend Marci Shelley says much of her life was dedicated to helping friends and strangers. “She was extremely thoughtful and she was very, very giving,” she tells PEOPLE. “She was a true friend to a lot of people. I don't know a lot of people that are so willing to give up their time and themselves.”
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While investigators continue to look into Barraza's murder, her family hopes someone will come forward with information so justice can finally be served.
“We were normal, good people,” says Sergio. “This could happen to anybody, if it can happen to us. We just want help from the world and the community to help find out why somebody would do something like this. It goes against nature for this to happen to such a good person.”
If you have information about this case, contact Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.