HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – It’s been nearly five years since Harlingen Attorney Ernesto Gonzales disappeared without a trace. Many in the community knew the popular lawyer as ” El Gallito”. Three years after his disappearance Gonzales’s remains were found but there are still many unanswered questions surrounding his death.

ValleyCentral sat down with Ernest J. Gonzales, Ernesto’s only son. For nearly two years Gonzales’s remains have been at a forensic unit at the University of North Texas to determine an exact cause of death.

Just recently Gonzales’s remains have been returned to his family. Now Gonzales’s son tells ValleyCentral he is still looking for justice for his dad.

“It was a very uphill struggle to convince everyone that there was something wrong and we needed to look for my father,” Gonzales said.

“El Gallito” went missing in July 2017. Right before Gonzales went missing he filed a restraining order against several of his siblings after a dispute over how their ill mother was being taken care of. Gonzales said he feared for his life.

In June 2020 police discovered Gonzales’s remains buried at a farm owned by Salamon Compos Jr. one of Gonzales’s nephews.

Ernest tells ValleyCentral he still remembers the search for his father and the feeling that overcame him when they finally found him.

“It is the strangest feeling because there is a sense of relief that we were looking for my dad and we found him,” Gonzales said. “But it is also a terrifying and sad feeling to know that he is not on vacation somewhere and decided to go traveling and not tell anybody.”

Days after Gonzales’s remains were found, police arrested Campos and charged him with murder. While this case has caused division among Gonzales’ family, Ernest believes his family wants peace.

“From my end, the search for peace is a search for justice, it is trying to get justice for my dad,” Gonzales said. “I can’t speak for everybody else, but I think everyone who loved my dad if they were family or friends would want to seek that justice, and that is what we are all hoping for.” 

There still has not been a trial date set for Campos. While the wait has been frustrating for Ernest, he tells ValleyCentral he is looking forward to the day he finally finds out the truth.

“Even though we found my dad I don’t know exactly what happened,” Gonzales said. ” The only people that know are the guilty parties and they need to confess, they need to say what happened to my dad, at the very least so that we can know.” 

Now that Gonzales’s remains are back with his family, they are slowly finding closure.

“There is a sense of growing peace that comes with every piece of information that we get as well as the mourning and the sadness that comes with it,” Gonzales said. ” So, it is a complicated feeling.”  

Ernest adds that his family will be releasing an obituary for Ernesto Gonzales in the near future. Funeral services are also being planned.