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Possible serial killer sought in Houston-area manhunt

Posted at 4:25 AM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 06:25:05-04

HOUSTON – A manhunt is underway for a "person of strong interest" in a violent crime spree that has left at least three people dead in four days, reports CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV.

The killing spree started Friday with the slaying of a widow who liked to read the Bible and surprise neighbors with homemade cookies.

Houston police announced Monday that murders in two mattress stores could be linked to the killing of the woman, along with other unsolved crimes.

They’ve identified 46-year-old Jose Rodriguez as a suspect in the violent crime spree.

Police Chief Art Acevedo and Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez held a rare joint news conference Monday evening to warn the public about this "threat to the community."

Rodriguez hasn’t been charged in the crimes, but Gonzalez tweeted he’s "considered a serial killer, armed and dangerous."

"He’s been on a rampage in a series of murders," Acevedo said. "Let’s get this man off the street as soon as possible."

Rodriguez is 5’9, about 150 pounds, bald with tattoos on his neck and other parts of his body. He also has a tattoo on the top of his head and may wear ballcaps to cover it up.

Investigators believe Rodriguez may be driving a dark grey Nissan Sentra.

The first person killed in the spree was a widow in Cypress who liked to read the Bible and bake cookies for neighbors.

Harris County sheriff’s deputies found the first victim, Pamela Johnson, 62, in her home Friday. Her brother had asked authorities to check on her because she wasn’t answering his calls.

Johnson’s television, computer and jewelry were missing from her home, detectives said.

On Saturday, Johnson’s missing PT Cruiser was found in the parking lot of Willowbrook Mall.

Mall surveillance video showed a man, believed to be Rodriguez, walking through and leaving from the opposite side.

Employees at nearby businesses were stunned by the news.

"I’ve heard about robberies around here and stuff like that but nothing about someone being found dead. It’s pretty scary," said Sarai Roman.

Police say other vehicles used in the crime spree were also dumped at the mall.

On Saturday night, a young employee was shot to death inside a Mattress Firm store near the mall.

Allie Barrow, 28, was found by the store manager.

A few hours after Barrow’s identity was released on Monday, police were called to another mattress store about three miles away.

This time, the victim was a man. He was found inside a Mattress One store.

Police are looking for a dark gray Nissan Sentra stolen from the scene.

Police also want to question Rodriguez about the robbery and shooting of a Metro Lift driver early Monday near Highway 59 and Quitman. He survived and was rushed to an area hospital.

A fifth crime, a home invasion robbery on July 9 in north Harris County could also be linked to Rodriguez.

Police say if you see this suspect or vehicle, do not approach him. He is considered very dangerous.