We’re told suspect Gustavo Zavala-Garcia has been arraigned in a Smith County courtroom. Smith and Cherokee County officials held a news conference Tuesday morning at the Smith County courthouse to bring everyone up to speed on the investigation.
Law enforcement says they were able to piece together a timeline they’re confident in. Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says they now know that 10-year-old Kayla Gomez died either Tuesday or Wednesday of last week.
Sheriff Smith said the well the body was found in was about 25 feet deep and had about five to six feet of water inside.
Smith County officials had said Zavala was previously deported, but it was clarified today that he was in the process of deportation. Law enforcement wants the trial to take place in Smith County.
They say this will be the last news conference regarding the case, leaving the rest for the court room.
“We feel like we’ve got a very good handle on what’s going on, on what happened as far as a timeline through interviews, through interviews of the defendant, and things of that nature,” Sheriff Larry Smith said. “We want to protect the integrity of the investigation.”
More information about the arrest of Zavala came in an affidavit released at the news conference. It stated that a church member saw Zavala, his 3-year-old daughter, and Kayla Gomez shortly before she disappeared.
Zavala told a church member that Kayla had gone back inside to wait for her family. During a polygraph test, Zavala allegedly admitted to causing Kayla’s death before he retracted his answer.
You can find more information on the affidavit here.