Published October 17, 2011
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A college sophomore who was reported missing last week in central Arkansas was found dead in a pond south of Little Rock, police said Monday.
Authorities ruled the death of 20-year-old Patricia Guardado a homicide after her body was discovered Sunday afternoon in a few feet of water south of Sweet Home, Ark. A cause of death was not immediately released.
No suspects have been named. Police wouldn't comment Monday about whether Guardado had been assaulted, whether she might have known her assailant or how long she had been in the pond.
The scant information released by authorities Monday shocked Guardado's uncle, Gerardo Garcia Ramirez.
"It's incredible that there isn't a single clue or suspect," he said in Spanish.
So, while authorities offer rewards for information that leads to an arrest, he asked people -- especially in the Hispanic communities of central Arkansas -- to come forward with any details about what happened to his niece.
He said Guardado's family still can't believe that they have to bury such a wonderful young woman.
"She was always working and studying," he said. "She was a good daughter, a good sister, a good niece."
A dive team on Monday searched the waters where her Guardado's body was found near a cemetery less than 10 miles south of Little Rock. Lt. Carl Minden, a spokesman for the Pulaski County sheriff's office, declined to comment on what evidence, if any, had been recovered.
Two men scoping out a place to go fishing spotted Guardado's body in a pond in rural Arkansas. They told authorities that a gate leading to the water was open, so they headed onto the property to check it out.
Guardado was last seen leaving her parents' home about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. She had a 9 a.m. calculus class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where she studied international business, but she never made it. She was reported missing that night.
The car she drove was found in a parking lot near the school. Authorities are looking for evidence in the vehicle. Police wouldn't say whether they believe anyone else was in the car.
At a vigil Monday night in downtown Little Rock, the Rev. Jason Tyler echoed relatives' pleas for information and answers.
"If you know of anything, don't try to resolve it on your own," Tyler said. "Call the police."
As he spoke to hundreds of people crammed into St. Edward Catholic Church, Guardado's parents and younger sisters sat up front in a wooden pew. Guardado's mother, Leonor Garcia, clung to her two daughters as Guardado's other sister rested her head against her father's arm and sobbed.
Prayers in Spanish and English drifted to the rafters, and a framed picture of a smiling Guardado rested next to a statue of the Virgin Mary near the altar. A woman kneeling on the floor strummed a guitar while leading the church in hymns, singing in Spanish "in peace, in peace you'll rest."
Another vigil is scheduled Tuesday night at the university campus.