Family of Zoe Campos details heartbreak at Carlos Rodriquez murder trial

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 7:57 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - On the evening of Nov 17, 2013, 18-year-old Zoe Campos was last seen on surveillance video with her sister at Copper Caboose Restaurant near Avenue Q.

After dinner, Zoe and her sister headed back to her apartment at 3532 50th Street. This was the last time any member of Zoe’s family saw her before she went missing in Nov of 2013. Police searched, but found no leads in Campos’ disappearance for nearly five years.

A break in the case came in the form of now 29-year-old Carlos Rodriquez.

Rodriquez and the Lubbock teen were reportedly together the night she went missing. Although police investigated him earlier in the investigation, he was eventually ruled out as a suspect.

New details in the case broke while Rodriquez was in jail for a different crime. He was convicted of Nov 2017 stalking charges and was awaiting transportation to prison. The stalking conviction granted him a four-year sentence, which he has not yet served.

Police discovered Campos’ body buried in Rodriquez’s backyard in November of 2018, almost five years to the day from the time she was reported missing.

After being charged with Zoe’s murder, Rodriquez wrote a handwritten confession letter that he sent to KCBD in 2019. The letter detailed how he met Zoe on November 17, 2013, and felt an immediate attraction to her. Rodriquez invited Zoe back to his home, where the two engaged in sexual acts and smoked cigarillos laced with K-2 synthetic marijuana. In the letter, Rodriquez said he hallucinated that Zoe was a demon and attacked her. He wrapped his hands around her neck from behind and strangled her to death before burying her body in his backyard.

Rodriquez headed to trial today. A jury will sentence him to five to 99 years or life in prison. The courtroom was filled with Campos’ family who had an emotional morning after opening statements painted a clear picture of what occurred after Zoe disappeared. Zoe’s mother, Melinda Campos, took the stand and described what it was like to now know whether her daughter was dead or alive for five years, all while her remains were buried in Rodriquez’s backyard.

Detectives who testified said Carlos Rodriquez was not a suspect early on in the investigation. They said he seemed calm when police originally searched the home where Zoe’s remains would later be located. Testimonies will continue tomorrow morning.

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