A witness, Campos's aunt, saw a person wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt driving the vehicle. This unidentified individual abandoned it, ran away and was gone by the time police responded to the scene. Authorities found Campos's jacket in the car's trunk and her phone charger in the backseat.
Campos may still be in the local area. She has connections in the Texas cities of El Paso, Abilene and Austin; her family previously lived in Austin. Her mother stated she had a limited social circle with only a few friends, and described her as a responsible person. She was about to graduate from Matthews Alternative High School and wanted to become a mechanic. It's uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning, and she may be in danger. Her case remains unsolved.
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance:
Missing Since: November 18, 2013 from Lubbock, Texas
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date of Birth: September 4, 1995
Age: 18 years old
Height and Weight: 5'0, 100 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Hispanic female. Brown hair, brown eyes.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A mint green corsetstyle top, a black jacket and black pants.
Lubbock police say missing woman's past behavior may have put her in harm's way
Lubbock police officials said in a press conference Monday morning, Dec. 2, that a missing 18-year-old woman’s past behavior may have put her in harm’s way. Police officials provided an update on the case of Zoe Gabrielle Campos, who has been missing since Nov. 17. Campos is about 5 feet tall, weighs about 100 pounds, and has brown hair and brown eyes. Lubbock Police Department Sgt. Chris Breunig, who addressed the media during the conference, did not elaborate on the nature of Campos’ behavior. “Due to the information obtained thus far, plus lack of communication from Zoe, we believe she is in danger,” he said. However, Breunig would not confirm if she was abducted. “At this point she is listed as missing and endangered,” he said. Zoe’s mother, Melinda, said she does not know to what behavior police are referring. “She hardly ever did anything or went anywhere, so I don’t know where this dangerous behavior came from,” she said. She said her daughter was responsible and always let people know where she was. She also said her daughter, who had ambitions to become a mechanic, had a limited social circle that extended to her sister and a few friends.
On Nov. 22, Lubbock police widened their search of the missing woman to Abilene, Austin and El Paso. Bruenig said the cities were added to the search based on her Facebook activity. He added that the Campos family previously lived in Austin. On Nov. 18 — the day of her disappearance — Zoe Campos sent her mother a text message that she was on her way to pick her up from work at about 2:30 a.m. but never showed. Lubbock police received the report she was missing Nov. 19. And on Nov. 21, Campos’ silver 1997 Lincoln Town Car was abandoned at the Driftwood Apartments in the 5500 block of Utica Avenue. A family member spotted an unidentified person driving the car and followed it to the apartments, where the person dressed in a dark hoodie ran away, according to Melinda Campos. Breunig said since Zoe Campos’ disappearance, there has been no activity on her Facebook account or her cellphone. He also advised people who may have information about the case to speak with police instead of posting it on social media sites. “When people put postings out or contact friends or family with this information and it goes through third or fourth parties, we end up getting information or leads that are erroneous in nature,” he said. Lubbock police are offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to locating Zoe Campos, Breunig said.
Tips can also be sent via text message to 274637. Begin the message with LBKTIPS.
LUBBOCK - The distraught family of an 18-year-old Lubbock woman said they remain hopeful she will return safely. Lubbock police officials believe Zoe Campos, who was reported missing since early Monday morning, Nov. 18, may be in danger. Campos has brown hair and brown eyes, is about 5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds. She was last seen wearing black pants a light mint-green corset and a black jacket. Lubbock Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Lewis said he could not elaborate on what indicated the danger. Campos was last seen about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, according to her older sister, Savannah. Savannah said they watched a movie at their home in the 3500 block of 50th Street before she went to bed.
Melinda Campos said her daughter was supposed to pick her up from work about 2 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at an East 34th Street bar, but she never showed up. “The last text that I received from her was between 2:30 a.m. and 2:39 a.m. saying she was on her way to see me to pick me up,” Campos said. Her phone calls were never returned and are all going straight to voice mail. Other family members and friends have not heard from Zoe, and it has filled Melinda Campos with anxiety and fear. “I’m very scared for her,” she said. Savannah Campos said her sister always kept in contact with her family. “So it's weird that her phone was off this long,” she said. “It’s weird that she hasn’t come back yet. This isn’t like my sister.” After filing a report with the police Monday, Melinda said officers told her to wait it out, hinting that Zoe might have run away. “If they knew her like we knew her, (they’d know) that’s not (like) her,” she said.
The Police Department's tone changed Tuesday night after officers found the abandoned 1997 silver Lincoln Town Car that Zoe was supposed to fetch her mother in, according to Melinda Campos. Campos said her sister spotted Zoe’s car being driven by an unidentified man. After a brief chase, the man abandoned the vehicle at the Driftwood Apartments in the 5500 block of Utica Avenue. Melinda Campos said she hoped she would find her daughter by the vehicle. “It gave me a lot of hope that the next step was going to be Zoe was going to be right there, and we’re still waiting; we’re still waiting,” she said. All police officers found was Zoe’s black jacket in the trunk and her phone charger in the back seat. “Zoe’s very attached to her phone, so for it to be off with her charger in her back seat, it just sends up red flags to us,” her mother said. Savannah Campos described her sister as a laid-back person who kept to herself. Melinda Campos said her daughter loved being with her sister and her sister’s children. Both women said Zoe’s social circle was limited to her older sister, a cousin and a friend.
“She wasn’t the type of person that would go out to parties or clubs or anything like that,” Melinda Campos said. “If she did go to a party it was with a friend and that was very rare.” She said her daughter planned to graduate from Matthews Alternative High School in December and study to become a mechanic. Her daughter bought the Lincoln to fix it up, she said. “She was real excited about fixing it up and making it hers,” she said. Savannah Campos said her younger sister’s plans were influenced by relatives who were good with cars. “And that’s something she took an interest in,” Melinda Campos said. Family members have used fliers and social media to raise awareness about the 18-year-old. “Hopefully somebody will see her or remember that they saw her and give us any little bit of a clue,” Melinda Campos said. Zoe’s father, a Marine serving in Afghanistan, is making his way home to be with his family, she said. “He’s scared to death,” she said. She hopes her daughter will show up before then and the family is holding on to the hope that Zoe is safe. “Right now that’s all we have,” Savannah Campos said. “We’re just trying to hope and pray that she’s going to walk through that door or call and say, ‘Come get me.’
Search continues for Zoe Gabrielle Campos
Campos was reported missing Nov. 19
Family and friends of missing Lubbock teen Zoe Gabrielle Campos, 18, gathered in parking lot near Avenue L and 70th Street to pass out fliers and hopefully generate solid leads about her whereabouts.
“It’s the most awful, awful dream,” said Zoe’s mom, Melinda. An advocate from the Center for Search and Investigations for Missing Children asked volunteers to form groups and pick areas of Lubbock to post fliers. The gathering spot was chosen for a reason advocate Nina Valdez couldn’t disclose. “I can’t say,” she said.
Campos doesn’t fit the center’s criteria for cases it normally works on, but they decided to volunteer their help to the family anyway. The center focuses most of its efforts on missing children between the ages of 11 and 16. Brenda Paradise, a state-licensed private investigator for the center, said one in three children are approached by a sex trafficker in the first 48 hours they’re missing. The center is a pending nonprofit, global organization staffed by volunteers who do everything from hand out fliers to surveillance. Some volunteers are law enforcement and some are not. “We start and target where the child went missing,” she said. Handing out fliers is vital because 85 to 90 percent of missing children are found because of fliers, she said. Her volunteers try to post new fliers regularly because if a flier looks old, people assume the person has probably been found. “That’s the most important thing — getting Zoe’s face out there,” said Melinda. Something that has frustrated the Campos family is certain people’s reluctance to contact police with information about Zoe’s Nov. 18 disappearance.
“I think there’s people out there and they’re just scared to talk,” Melinda said. “Because I get a lot of phone calls, and people will be like, ‘Well, I have warrants. I don’t want to deal with the police.’ That doesn’t matter.” Melinda said she doesn’t think Lubbock police or the FBI are concerned about warrants. She believes they are concerned about getting information and finding Zoe. Paradise said people are more than welcome to call her with information and they can remain anonymous. “I don’t arrest. I don’t prosecute,” she said. Any information given to Paradise and other volunteers will be shared with law enforcement, but she is more than willing to talk to people who are hesitant to speak with police. “Everything we do, we share with law enforcement officers,” Paradise said. Rachel Morales, Zoe’s aunt, has been handing out fliers for the past two weeks. She estimated about 2,000 fliers had been distributed before Sunday’s effort. Staples and Office Depot have master copies of the fliers, and people can donate money toward the copies at those businesses, she said. Morales was part of a group that posted fliers from Marsha Sharp Freeway to Avenue A and then 42nd Street to 52nd Street. Zoe was supposed to pick her mom up from work during the early morning hours of Nov. 18, and she would have traveled along that route.
“It’s like that little boy that went missing about a year ago. You see it — your heart goes out to them, but never in a million years do you think you’re going to go through this,” Morales said. “It’s probably the worst thing there is.” Morales was speaking about missing Lubbock teenager Mark Ysasaga, who was last seen June 14, 2012. Ysasaga is listed as a runaway on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Missing Person Clearinghouse website. Paradise said sometimes law enforcement and the public don’t get as concerned as they should about runaways. A child may run away from home, but the child might get into a situation they can’t get out of on their own. “That’s our goal here — to get people to change their opinions on runaways,” Paradise said. Zoe was reportedly last seen wearing pajamas, and Paradise doesn’t think she’s a runaway. She also said she doesn’t care what any missing kid’s personal history is. “This girl still has a family,” Paradise said. “I don’t care what her background is.”
At a news conference on Dec. 2, Lubbock police said Zoe’s past behavior may have played a role in her disappearance, but they have never elaborated on that statement. Private investigators, like police, don’t always reveal every tip or lead that they’re working, Paradise said. If the center receives information they don’t immediately relay it to family because they don’t want to burn their leads. “I don’t want to give away what we know,” she said. “We don’t want them running.” A family member saw Zoe’s silver 1997 Lincoln Town Car being driven by someone shortly after she disappeared, Paradise said. The unidentified person ditched the car at the Driftwood Apartments and ran before police arrived. Paradise thinks police might suspect foul play to be involved with Zoe’s disappearance, and that could explain why the FBI has been brought in. Between local police and the FBI, Paradise said Zoe’s case is in good hands. FBI spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said federal investigators have more resources than local police and they can also provide new perspectives on the case. “I just want to find this girl,” Paradise said.
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Warrant: Man admits to killing Zoe Campos while on drugs, burying body
By Gabriel MonteA-J Media
Carlos Rodriquez, 25, admitted to strangling Zoe Campos to death five years ago at his home in the 1900 block of 70th Street where he says the two smoked synthetic drugs, according to an arrest warrant released Monday.
The warrant indicates Rodriquez was a person of interest in the case since Campos was reported missing on Nov. 19, 2013. Police on Friday confirmed finding human remains in the backyard of the house Rodriquez once lived in, but were awaiting a Lubbock County Medical Examiner's analysis to confirm its identification.
Although it's not what the Campos family wanted to hear, the news of the discovery and Rodriquez's charge provided some form of closure, said Nina Valdez, an advocate with Voice for the Missing. For the family, Valdez said now the questions of not knowing have led to the how and why all of this information from Rodriquez took this long to come out. "They have a lot of mixed emotions about that," she added. "As a mother, you're going to have the how and the anger and everything that goes with it knowing that somebody knew this whole time. The not knowing is what was the hardest for her. It's devastating, it's all mixed in one."
Campos' mother, Melinda, told A-J media in 2017 that while she was hopeful her daughter was still alive, she had begun steeling herself to a grimmer conclusion. Valdez said no amount of preparation would soften the blow about the news of a loved one's death. "The impact was just as devastating," she said. With a whole new level of grief added, the Campos family wanted to express their gratitude for sharing Campos' story, which went international, said Valdez.
"It's so heartbreaking," she said. "It's not the news you want to get. We always want to find our children and bring them home safe. This one is just really devastating. But in a sense, we all felt relief that (Melinda Campos) is not going to have to wake up and wonder where she is at again." Melinda Campos reported Zoe Campos, who was 18 at the time, missing two days after her daughter sent her a 2 a.m. text message saying she was on her way to fetch her from work. Her daughter never came, which was unusual, she said. When Campos arrived at her home, Zoe wasn’t there.
Melinda Campos told A-J Media in 2013 that she believed her daughter was at their home when she sent the text message. In 2017, Campos said she learned that her daughter may have been at a friend's place when she texted. "From what I’m understanding, is when she texted me, she was at this person’s house," Campos said. "And she made up an excuse to get away."
The day after Melinda Campos' report, her sister spotted Zoe's car, a silver Lincoln Town car, and followed it to the Driftwood Apartments in the 5500 block of Utica Avenue where the driver abandoned it and ran away. Investigators searched the vehicle and recovered Campos' jacket.
In the 2017 interview, Campos told A-J media her conversations with investigators over the years led her to believe one person knew what happened to her daughter the night of her disappearance. She didn't identify the man, but said police used cadaver dogs to search his home and cell phone records showed her daughter's cell phone was within a mile of where the man's residence. "Apparently she met this guy through a friend of hers that just had baby," she said. "That night she went to go see her and give her congratulations and then went back home to the apartment. But this is where she met that last person."
However, the warrant indicates that Zoe Campos never made it back to the apartment she shared with her mother and sister. At the beginning of the case, investigators collected cellphone tower data of Zoe Campos' cellphone, which showed it was in the area of Rodriquez' house in the 1900 block of 70th Street before her disappearance. The warrant states he lived at that home until the latter part of 2014.
Investigators spoke with Rodriquez, who gave investigators different stories. He initially minimized his relationship with Campos, saying he met her earlier in the day through a friend and denied involvement in her disappearance. He later admitted to lying about his relationship and said the two communicated on Facebook and smoked marijuana at his home.
In 2014, investigators searched around the property using cadaver-sniffing dogs. The dogs detected the scent of death at the time in the backyard and in the alley, but investigators could not find a grave site. Investigators interviewed Rodriquez multiple times in 2015 and 2016 during which he displayed deceptive behavior. In 2016, forensic analysts found Rodriquez's DNA inside the jacket recovered from Campos' car. Investigators confronted Rodriquez with the DNA evidence and he denied touching Campos in any way but said she was in his bedroom.
Rodriquez told the investigators he couldn't tell them what happened and that things "didn't look good," the warrant states. Investigators collected more evidence against Rodriquez, including DNA and statements from people who investigators believed Rodriquez confided in that Campos was dead and buried in the backyard. Rodriquez has been held at the Lubbock County Detention Center since November 2017 when Lubbock police arrested him in connection with a stalking charge.
In March, another witness who was an inmate at the jail, told investigators that Rodriquez reportedly told him, “They’ve searched the land already, they’re not gonna find the body until they move the concrete.” One witness, described as a confidential informant, provided investigators with information in July about the case not released to the media. "The (confidential informant) provided information about this investigation that only Carlos Rodriquez would know." On Nov. 7 investigators returned to the residence with cadaver-sniffing dogs and found a bone, which was later determined to have come from an animal.
However, investigators confronted Rodriquez with the bone before confirming its origin and Rodriquez requested a lawyer. In jail phone calls, Rodriquez could be heard saying he told someone what happened and that person had “snitched.” During that conversation, he did not deny that Campos was in the backyard and was certain that Campos’s body was in the backyard of his previous residence, the warrant states.
Later, Rodriquez, waiving his right to counsel, reopened communications with investigators and admitted to killing Campos. The warrant states that, in the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 2013, Campos drove to Rodriquez’s house. The two smoked synthetic marijuana and Rodriquez said he “lost control” and struck Campos and put her in a "rear naked choke" hold and strangled her to death. Rodriquez took Campos’ body to the backyard and buried her in a shallow grave. Rodriquez admitted to driving Campos' car to the Driftwood Apartments where he was almost caught by her aunt.
Rodriquez moved Campos’ body after several months. During the process, he admitted, her foot broke off and he threw it in a dumpster, according to the warrant. He reportedly said he buried her deeper underground in another part of the backyard and laid her over a gas pipe. Rodriquez is being held at the Lubbock County Detention Center. His bail is set at $500,000 for the murder charge. However, he was sentenced to four years in prison after entering a guilty plea in October to the stalking charge.
18-Year-Old Vanishes On Way to Meet Her Mom — 5 Years Later, a Suspect Is Charged
Police believe they may have recovered the remains of Zoe Campos, who was 18 when she was last seen back on Nov. 17, 2013