The body of a missing 20-year-old Texas woman was found Saturday, 10 days after she vanished, police announced.
Mario Juan Chacon, 24, was booked on first-degree murder charges in connection to the death of Madeline Pantoja, according to Midland County Sherrif’s records.
Police did not provide any additional information on Pantoja’s death other than it was a homicide pending autopsy results.
Pantoja was last seen around 11 p.m. May 10 after a night out with friends in the city of Midland, roughly 300 miles west of Dallas.
Friends and family were immediately suspicious when they couldn’t reach her the next day — the young woman had left her phone, purse keys and dog behind at her apartment.
Worried loved ones grew increasingly angry after a week passed without any progress in the search for Pantoja.
About 100 people protested outside the Midland Police Department headquarters Thursday to call for “justice” following what they said was a “lack of investigation” by the police, KTSM reported.
Friends believed Pantoja’s ex-boyfriend — who she had recently broken up with and who had a key to her apartment — was to blame, but had not been publicly named as a person of interest.
Pantoja’s neighbors told the outlet they had heard a man and woman arguing inside her apartment the night she went missing.
Midland police could not immediately confirm whether Chacon was Pantoja’s ex.
Midland Mayor Lori Blong promised Friday that the police were working “tirelessly in searching and in gathering information and evidence” in the missing person’s case and was collaborating with the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security.
According to Chief of Police Seth Herman, the department searched 60 square miles or remote property using on-the-ground personnel, drones and aircraft, had executed over one dozen search warrants, interviewed 25 people and was investigating 20 tips in the leadup to the discovery of Pantoja’s body.