Madrid's most recent booking photo. (Source: Mesa Police Department)
Memorial at the site where the girl's body was found. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Alex Madrid (Source: Arizona Department of Corrections)
MESA, AZ (CBS5) -
Mesa police have announced they've made an arrest in the murder of a 14-year-old girl whose body was found in an apartment dumpster early last Friday morning.
Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead also said at a news conference Tuesday that Claudia Ann Lucero was sexually assaulted and died by strangulation.
Alex Madrid, 31, of Mesa, a convicted felon and the ex-boyfriend of Claudia's mother, was taken into custody in connection with the death, Milstead said. "He had lived at the home at times and during the past week had been estranged from the family," Milstead said.
Madrid has an extensive history of violent crimes and had served prison time in Arizona.
Milstead said Claudia Ann Lucero was apparently afraid of Madrid who, in the past, had allegedly touched her inappropriately.
"She had told her friends at school that she was frightened of him and was afraid but not that he might murder her," Milstead said.
Police initially arrested Madrid on charges unrelated to Claudia's murder.
Madrid was found in his vehicle Friday around 7 p.m. by an undercover officer at Rio Salado Street and North Alma School Road, according to a probable cause statement. Police had received information that Madrid was wanted on a probation violation.
The officer noticed Madrid had committed a traffic violation after the suspect turned northbound on Alma School Road. After the officer activated his lights and siren, Madrid did not stop but sped up, the court document stated.
An undercover officer was able to get in front of Madrid's vehicle to slow him down while the second officer applied a pit maneuver to bring the vehicle to a stop.
Madrid climbed out of the vehicle, ran across the street and attempted to jump over a fence, court paperwork stated. Officers caught him, but Madrid put up a struggle, according to the probable cause statement. Police were finally able to place him in handcuffs.
Police were able to link Madrid to the teen's death through DNA evidence, Milstead said. "There was biological evidence left behind."
Madrid has been booked into jail on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual conduct with a minor, molestation of a child, child abuse, sexual abuse, concealment of a dead body and tampering with physical evidence.
He is being held without bail.
"As a father of a high-school aged daughter, I cannot possibly imagine or conceive the feelings of the Lucero family today," Milstead said.
He said the motive for the killing is not yet known and Madrid is not cooperating with police.
Claudia was last seen at her Mesa home around 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 5. Her body was found at the Sun Gardens Apartments at 860 E. Brown Rd. by two women going through the trash container looking for things to recycle just after midnight on Nov. 6, a Friday. They called police and officers responded.
Monday afternoon, CBS 5 News spoke with Claudia's brother and cousins about how the family is dealing with her death.
"We want answers," said Ricky Lucero, her older brother.
"That's my sister. For them to throw her in the trash like that just tells me my sister was trash, and she wasn't trash. She wasn't trash at all," he continued.
The family gathered at a relative's house, praying and crying over their loss.
"I just miss all her smiling," said Lupe Lucero, the victim's cousin. She described the 14-year-old as a bubbly teen who loved fashion and makeup.
Monday evening, about 100 people gathered for a candelight vigil near the dumpster where Claudia was found.
Another group of mourners visited the memorial Tuesday night - after Madrid's arrest had been announced.
Milstead called Claudia's murder "an incredible tragedy" for the community.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate the family in this incredible hour of tragedy to provide us with as much information as they possibly could to not only identify the suspect, take him into custody and bring charges against him to insure this doesn't happen to another member of our community," Milstead said.
A Wells Fargo account has been set up in Claudia Lucero's name for those wishing to help the family. The account number is: 2762682439.
Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato said anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the Mesa Police Department at 480-644-2211 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (480-948-6377).
Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News for new details on this story.
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