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Suspect jailed on $2 million bail in fatal stabbing of Texas high school cheerleader

Edna Police Department

(EDNA, Texas) — A suspect has been jailed on $2 million bail in the fatal stabbing of high school cheerleader Lizbeth Medina, whose body was discovered in the bathtub of her home in Edna, Texas by her mother last week, according to authorities.

The suspect, identified as 23-year-old Rafael Govea Romero, was arrested Saturday and jailed on suspicion of capital murder in the killing of the 16-year-old, according to police.

The Texas Rangers and Edna police placed Romero under arrest in Schulenburg, Edna Police Chief Rick Boone said in a statement Sunday announcing the arrest.

Medina was supposed to perform with her cheerleading squad at a Christmas parade in Edna on Tuesday, her mother, Jacqueline Medina, told Houston ABC station KTRK.

But when the teen never showed up at the event, her mother said she went searching for her and ultimately found her unresponsive in the bathtub of their apartment.

Boone confirmed on Monday to ABC Houston station KTRK that Medina was stabbed to death.

Romero’s capture came a day after the Edna Police Department released security photos of a person and vehicle of interest in Medina’s homicide. The male person of interest was described by police as possibly having a tattoo behind his right ear and was seen in the images wearing a black Volcom-brand hooded sweatshirt. The person of interest was also seen driving a silver Ford Taurus, model year ranging from 2010 to 2018, police had said.

Boone said in a statement on Monday that investigators received information on the suspect’s whereabouts on Saturday evening. He said a team of law enforcement officers from the Edna Police Department and the Texas Rangers was assembled and went to a home in Schulenburg, where the homeowner confirmed the suspect was at the location. The team moved in and arrested Romero.

“Officers seized a motor vehicle and items of evidence tending to connect this suspect Romero to the murder of Lizbeth Medina,” Boone said in the statement, but did not disclose the nature of the evidence linked Romero to Medina’s slaying.

Romero was taken to the Jackson County Jail, where he was booked on suspicion of capital murder. A magistrate set his bail at $2 million, Boone said.

In his statement on Sunday, Boone described Romero as an “undocumented male subject.” On Monday, Boone said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed a detainer on Romero, who was in the country on an expired visa.

Romero’s arrest also occurred while classmates and community residents of Edna held a candlelight vigil for Medina Saturday evening at a gazebo outside the Jackson County Courthouse in Edna.

“Although Romero is apprehended, we recognize Lizabeth’s family and friends are grieving and still need support from the community,” Boone said. “The citizens of Edna can now sleep in peace.”

Police have not said if there was any previous relationship between Medina and Romero, or if the attack was a random incident.

Police have released few details regarding the circumstances of Medina’s death. An autopsy report has yet to be released.

Jacqueline Medina said she and her family moved to Edna, about 25 miles northeast of Victoria in southeast Texas, last year.

She said her daughter was honored before her school’s football game Thursday night, where the distraught cheerleading squad and her family wore purple — the teen’s favorite color.

“My head is just spinning everywhere, and I just want answers, I want justice,” Jacqueline Medina told KTRK prior to the game.

She said her daughter had a “kind heart” and would give someone the shirt off her back.

“You took an angel from me, and not only from me, from a lot of people who loved her,” Jacqueline Medina said.

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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