Mystery Surrounding Elizabeth Barraza’s Murder: Investigators Weigh In

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Who killed Elizabeth Barraza? Investigators weigh in 5 years later’ by KPRC 2 Click2Houston

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How does it work?
The unsolved case has involved multiple agencies for five years, with changing dynamics, cooperative family, and a focus on utilizing technology to solve it.

Key Insights

  • The case being discussed is unsolved and has been ongoing for five years.
  • The original lead investigator believed the case would be solved quickly based on surveillance video footage, but that did not happen.
  • Time passing has changed the dynamics of the case, such as relationships, loyalties, and technological advancements, potentially working in investigators' favor.
  • Multiple agencies, including the FBI and Texas Rangers, have been involved in the investigation.
  • The strategy involves going back to initial interviews, reviewing reports, listening to 911 tapes, and analyzing evidence.
  • The behavior of the killer suggests the crime may not have been random, but the possibility is not ruled out.
  • Elizabeth's husband and the family have been cooperative and supportive throughout the investigation.
  • Various tips, including from web sleuths, are constantly received and followed up on, although some may be less credible.
  • The focus in recent months has been on utilizing technology, such as crime scene units, DNA analysis, and online platforms that the suspect may have used.
  • Investigators are open to exploring any possibilities and are determined to solve the case.

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This morning we are taking a further look inside of the timeline of that day.

Our own Corley Peel is here with us this morning, as well as Sergeant Michael Ritchie with the homicide in Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Good morning. Thank you both for being with us.

Good morning. Okay, Sergeant, we will start with you.

Five years now, and did you ever think that it would get to this point?

Five years with not cracking the case yet?

No, I did not. I was the original lead investigator on this. So I do remember getting the call that morning and heading out to the scene. And like I’ve told so many interviews before, when I was watching the surveillance video that was provided by the neighbors, I really felt like we could actually have this solved that day. But that definitely has not been the case.

Yeah, Corley, we’re used to following stories, but five years later, it’s like no development, right? And you were talking to me earlier about time and a lot of times right after a murder that you know you want to solve it right away. But now you’re saying with all these years past that time is actually on your side. Can you expand on that?

Well, so the sergeant that was my supervisor that day out of the scene, Eric Clegg, he was a longtime cold case investigator. And one thing that he told me is that a lot of times when you’re working on an investigation, you have that famous show, the First 48, that’s a lot of times time is working against you when you’re first out there when you first get there. It was the case when we did this in 2019. But as time goes on, it can reverse and it can kind of be on your side. For instance, relationships change, loyalties change.

For instance, the person that did this could be in prison or deceased or they’re divorced or they’re not with the person they were before. So there are different loyalties and everything that helps us that we’re kind of trying to utilize right now.

Technology, definitely technology has changed a lot from 2019 to 2024. And that’s kind of where we have the FBI and Texas Rangers helping out with that aspect as well. Throughout the investigation, Texas Rangers were involved, had contact with them, and also an FBI agent that us at the sheriff’s office would use. So we have definitely reached out to other agencies that definitely have more resources than the sheriff’s office would. So we’ve definitely been utilizing them really for the entire investigation.

Do you start from the very beginning when you’re going over these cases? You go right through and kind of with a fine-tooth comb. What is the strategy?

Well, what I’ve done as this case has gone on, a lot of times I’ve gone back to my first interviews of that day and I reread my supplemental reports that I completed. And I’m going to listen to interviews. I’ve listened to the 911 callers. I listened to the 911 tapes. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that video. And so I try to sometimes think outside the box. And sometimes investigators, you get focused or tunnel vision on one scenario that you think, “Why did this occur? How did it occur?” And so sometimes I try to take a step back and look, “Hey, is there a different reason why this occurred?” There was everything about the killer’s behavior didn’t seem random. But maybe it was random. I mean, what’s your thought on that?

Well, I’ve been open to anything. Over the years, again, since we haven’t been able to solve it, I’ve been open to anything. And I’ve told a lot of people that I wouldn’t be surprised right now. Nothing would surprise me. Our general theory about it, we definitely thought that it wasn’t random due to the actions and behavior of the shooter. I don’t feel it was random, but is it possible? Yes.

Now, Corley, you have spoken with members of the family. You’ve spoken with the husband. Tell us about what that interview was like.

Elizabeth’s husband’s interview. Yeah, I mean, he was still very emotional. I know a lot of people have pointed fingers at him over the past few years about, you know, that he had something to do with this. A lot of people on social media pointing blame at him. But he said he loved her very much. They were planning to go on their anniversary trip days after that garage sale. He said that they were best friends, that they were extremely close. And that he wants to make sure that the killer is found just as much as anybody else. So he seemed very emotional about it, especially five years later that an arrest still hasn’t been made.

And then, Sergeant, you said that he’s been cooperative, as has the entire family. There’s nothing in that particular situation that would lead you to believe they’re hiding something at this point.

No, the husband has been totally cooperative with us and myself throughout the entire investigation. Again, I still speak to him. I just spoke to him last week. Same thing with the Nellie’s. Bob and Rosemary have been very supportive of us and the sheriff’s office throughout the investigation, and their son and friends and family, other family members and friends of Liz. A lot of people from the 501st were involved in this. I have gotten nothing but support and cooperation from anyone that I’ve spoken to. And so, again, just another thing that just makes this more frustrating that we can’t get this solved for the Barraza and Nellie family.

Any new tips or leads that you’re able to share with us that y’all have gotten over the past five years?

So, with that being said, we still get numerous tips all the time, and sometimes we have to follow every tip. Now, sometimes tips can be a little out there from different people. We have people from out of this, I mean, from a different country that are interested in this case. There’s a ton of web sleuths that we get tips from, or that send emails or phone calls, telling us what they think and this and that. Watch this part of the video, or you should look at this person. We get a range of different types of tips and things that we still follow and look at. But one thing that I’ve been trying to focus on the last few months here is what I mentioned about technology in the last five years. And so we’re trying to utilize technology with our crime scene units, with the Texas Rangers, with speaking with the serology lab through DNA, and also looking at different warrants by using different websites and things like that that maybe the suspect could have used that we could access and maybe find out who was possibly trying to plan this if it was planned. So again, we’re looking at a lot of different things because, like I said, a lot of things have changed over the last five years with technology.

So you gotta look everywhere because, as you said, I mean, nothing would surprise you at this point, right?

Sergeant Corley, thanks for your guys’ time this morning. Appreciate you.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Who killed Elizabeth Barraza? Investigators weigh in 5 years later’ by KPRC 2 Click2Houston