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Undocumented relative charged with killing 10-year-old Texas girl found in well

  • Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 24, center, is brought from the sheriff's office to a waiting patrol car (Andrew D. Brosig/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP)

    Gustavo Zavala-Garcia, 24, center, is brought from the sheriff's office to a waiting patrol car (Andrew D. Brosig/Tyler Morning Telegraph via AP)

  • Gustavo Zavala-Garcia

    Gustavo Zavala-Garcia

A Mexican man charged with killing his 10-year-old cousin and dumping her in an East Texas water well was reportedly in the country illegally.

According to KETK, 24-year-old Gustavo Zavala-Garcia was living in the United States illegally and had been previously deported for a violent crime in 2014. He was charged with killing his cousin by marriage Kayla Gomez-Orozco, 10.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said Zavala-Garcia was booked Saturday into Smith County Jail on a federal immigration detainer and an arrest warrant was issued on Monday, charging him with capital murder.

According to Fox4News, Zavala-Garcia's bond was set at $10 million. He will be arraigned at the Smith County courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

“Additional charges are anticipated on this individual soon,” Smith said via an FBI news release, according to the Star-Telegram.

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“We assure you there will be no stone unturned as we enter the next phase of this investigation,” he added. “We will utilize all available assets at the local, state and federal level of law enforcement to see that justice is swift and thorough for Kayla and her family.”

Gomez-Orozco was reported missing after a Nov. 1 service at First Assembly of God in Bullard, about 15 miles south of Tyler. Her family said she got bored and left the room to wait in the lobby but when her mother went to check on her about an hour later, she was gone.

Hundreds of volunteers searched the area for days until the girl’s body was found Saturday down the well of a rented house about 21/2 miles southeast of Bullard.

Tyler media outlet KLTV first reported evidence was found on the property, which prompted investigators to get a warrant and search the area. An area of about 200 square feet was taped off as investigators worked the scene.

Zavala-Garcia, who lived near the house, voluntarily went in for police questioning and was later placed in the jail on an immigration hold.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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