Two teens charged with murder after body is found behind a church

Christopher Paz, 17, and Leroy Lopez, 17, of Houston, Texas. [Image credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office]

At approximately 5 pm on Monday evening Harris County Sheriff's Officers were called to the Second Baptist Church in Highlands where a body had been found along the back fence.


Initial reports from officers stated that they had found the remains of a young adult male partially buried under brush and tree branches along the fence line, who appeared to have been stabbed multiple times. They were unsure how long the body had been there and stated their initial focus was to ascertain the victim's identity.


"The first and most important thing is getting him identified," Sgt. Greg Pinkins said during a press conference. "Once we get him identified, then we can proceed with the investigation."


The following night, the Harris County Sheriff's Department was able to issue an updated press release not only announcing that they believed they had identified the victim as a missing person, but announcing that two arrests had been made as well.


17-year-old Christopher Paz was already in the Harris County Jail on an unrelated charge when investigators identified him as a suspect. Tuesday night he had gotten into a fight with his grandparents and allegedly struck his 70-year-old grandfather and threw a brick at him. He sustained a cut to his lip and an injury to his wrist.


In addition to the aggravated assault charge, he is now also charged with murder and tampering with evidence. His total bond has been set at $350,000 and his next court date is listed as April 16 according to jail records.


The other suspect, 17-year-old Leroy Lopez, initially identified by Harris County Sheriff Officers as Leroy Celestino, has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence. His bond was set at $460,000 and his court date was scheduled for June 30 according to jail records.


Investigators identified the victim as Abraham Mata and have disclosed that he had been shot two or three times before allegedly being dismembered. At this time, investigators believe that the attack, which likely happened some time Sunday, was in retaliation for an undisclosed incident between Mata and a friend of Paz and Lopez.


"All of these circumstances are pretty gruesome," the judge was reported to have said during Paz' bond hearing.