The murder of a well-known Texas attorney who went missing in 2017 still raises many more questions after his remains were found.
Ernesto “El Gallito” Gonzales went missing in July 2017.
Gonzales, a known and respected Harlingen, TX lawyer, had set up a meeting with his sister at his workplace. When he didn’t arrive, his sister contacted authorities, prompting Harlingen police to issue a welfare concern for Gonzales on Tuesday, July 18, 2017.
According to the local newspapers, before his disappearance, Gonzales had filed a protective order against several family members because he feared for his life.
His family quickly knew Gonzales wasn’t missing, but instead that someone had killed him.
In a previous interview with a Valley Central TV News station, his twin brother Rick Gonzales said that there was no possibility that his brother had just left.
“My brother isn’t missing. He’s deceased,” Rick said at the time of the interview.
Nearly three years after his disappearance, police made a breakthrough on July 23, 2020.
While conducting a search warrant for the case on a two-acre private property that featured a barn with animals in La Feria, police found human remains. Officials were able to locate the remains using a canine team and a ground-penetrating radar.
Police said that the remains were not found in a shallow grave but rather deep enough beneath the surface that machinery had to be used to recover them.
Through the use of dental records, the remains were confirmed to be that of Gonzales.
Days after locating the body of Gonzales, police did make an arrest.
The primary suspect was identified as Salomon Campos Jr., a nephew of Gonzales – in fact, the son of the very sister he was supposed to meet the day he went missing!
Alicia Campos, Salomon’s mother and “El Gallito’s” sister, said at the time of her son’s arrest that she hadn’t spoken to her son in eight years because of “family issues,” but she believes Salomon is innocent.
According to police, the property where the remains were found belonged to Campos.
Campos has been charged with aggravated kidnapping, murder, and stalking and was given a $1 million bond for murder and a $110,000 bond for the other charges.
However, now two years after the arrest, the case remains at a standstill.
Investigators have not yet determined how Gonzales was murdered. However, according to a cell phone timeline obtained by the local news, Gonzales’ phone signal started at his residence at 3 a.m. the day he was supposed to meet Alicia Campos and at one point appeared at a goat farm on Kansas City Road and then at another location four hours later, where the signal was cut off. It was in 2020 that his remains were found on that goat farm property belonging to Campos.
Campos’ trial was postponed due to the onset of the COVID pandemic, and officials have not set a new date. Valley Central TV reached out to the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, who stated that the day for his trial will be “coming soon.”
For now, Gonzales’ body remains at the University of North Texas for forensic testing.