HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – A conclusion has been reached in the 2019 murder case of a Rio Grande City woman. The man responsible for the murder died by suicide just before being served his indictment.
The 229th Judicial District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez, along with the family of the late Valeria Salinas, the 27-year-old Rio Grande City woman who was murdered in her parents’ home during a burglary in 2019, released statements Thursday regarding the case.
The prosecution concluded that Ismael Mares, Jr. was responsible for the murder based on several pieces of incriminating evidence found in his home, as well as a letter from an inmate whom Mares had “bragged” to about the murder.
The Salinas family released an impact statement in which they wrote about the trauma of losing their loved one.
Salinas, who had been living in Houston with her sister, traveled to Rio Grande City with her brother on Easter weekend in 2019 to see her parents. “I never thought she would never make it back to Houston,” wrote her brother in the statement.
Salinas’ parents left her to pick up ice cream when Mares, who was out on parole, broke in and shot her. “Holding her in our arms as she took her last breath on the floor of our home is a memory that we will never forget,” wrote Salinas’ parents in the statement.
Mares had an extensive criminal history that included aggravated assault of a public servant and attempted murder.
“This release on parole of a criminal with a violent history can only be categorized as a fatal mistake,” wrote the Salinas family. “We call for an evaluation of the process by which Valeria’s murderer was released, giving him the opportunity to not just steal material possession from our home but the most precious of all, Valeria’s life.”
Mares was taken arrested on April 21, 2019, the day after the murder, and remained in prison.
The evidence used to incriminate Mares for Salinas’s murder were four .22 caliber casings found on the scene that went with a .22 caliber handgun found in his home, gunshot residue found on his clothing, a shoe print that matched the tread of a sneaker found in his home, and assorted jewelry that matched the jewelry taken from the Salinas’ home.
Furthermore, a letter was written to the District Attorney’s Office in August of last year by an imate that was incarcerated with Mares at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas, that contained information about the investigation. The inmate was interviewed by the Texas Rangers and revealed that Mares had bragged to him about committing murder as well as details about the investigation.
“The evidence against Ismael Mares, Jr. for the Capital Murder of Ms. Valeria Salinas is overwhelming and leaves no doubt that he committed this homicide,” wrote the DA in a press release.
The DA explained in the release that they were preparing to present the case to the Grand Jury for indictment on August 22, 2021, when there were rumors that Mares had been killed in prison. The rumors were false, Mares had hung himself.
The family thanks all who were a part of the investigation as well as all who showed them support. “We thank you for standing by us,” wrote the family.