Suspects Charged with Murder of 12-Year-Old Texas Girl Were Detained, Released by ICE Before Killing

The men are accused of strangling Jocelyn Nungaray, a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in a Houston creek on June 17

<p>GoFundMe</p> Jocelyn Nungaray


Jocelyn Nungaray

The two suspects charged with capital murder in connection with the death of a 12-year-old Texas girl were detained and released by U.S. Border Patrol in the months before the killing.

Franklin Jose Pena Ramos, 26, and Johan Jose Rangel Martinez, 22, "both illegally entered the U.S. without inspection, parole or admission by a U.S. immigration officer on an unknown date and at an unknown location," a spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement to PEOPLE.

Ramos had been detained by border patrol agents near El Paso on May 28 and Martinez had been detained near the same city on March 14, the spokesperson said. The Venezuelan nationals were then released on an orders of recognizance with notices to appear in court at a later date.

Both men are now being held in Harris County Jail on capital murder charges, the agency spokesperson confirmed.

Authorities allege they killed Jocelyn Nungaray, a 12-year-old girl who was found dead in a Houston creek on the morning of June 17, PEOPLE previously reported. It’s unclear how the men ended up in Houston.

<p>houston police department</p> Franklin Jose Pena Ramos and Johan Jose Rangel Martinez.

houston police department

Franklin Jose Pena Ramos and Johan Jose Rangel Martinez.

According to KHOU, Ramos’ bond was set at $10 million during a court appearance on June 24 while Martinez is scheduled to appear in court later this week. It’s unclear if they have entered pleas or retained attorneys to speak on their behalf.

At a press conference last week, Houston police Lt. Stephen Hope said the suspects were spotted on surveillance cameras talking to Jocelyn after visiting a local restaurant on Sunday, June 16. Soon after, all three walked together to a convenience store and then went to a bridge, where investigators believe Jocelyn was murdered.

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences confirmed in an email to PEOPLE that Jocleyn's cause of death was strangulation and her manner of death was homicide.

Related: 2 Men Accused of Murdering Texas Girl, 12, Found in Creek, as Police Detail Her Final Moments

Houston police previously said they believe Jocelyn snuck out of her house around 10 p.m. that night. She was found dead in a shallow area of the creek the next morning.

While investigators have yet to reveal the relationship between the suspects and Jocelyn, the girl’s mother, Alexis Nungaray, told KPRC 2 that she has never seen the men before.

“No idea who they are,” she told the outlet. “I think [it] is very cowardly of one of them to, you know, try to alter his appearance to think that that would make a difference. But the city of Houston is way stronger than these individuals. And we’re going to give them what they deserve.”

Alexis also spoke at a news conference on Monday, June 24, where she thanked the community for their support and remembered her daughter as someone who “definitely made people laugh,” according to KHOU.

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“She had such a bright future ahead of her and I knew she was going to go very far,” she said. “And, you know, these, these monsters took that opportunity from her, from our family."

GoFundMe for Jocelyn's family has raised over $63,000 as of June 24.

District Attorney Kim Ogg said at the press conference that both suspects could face the death penalty if evidence leads investigators to believe they sexually assaulted or kidnapped Jocelyn, per Fox 26 Houston.

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