April VanCleave

Mom of young girl murdered while selling jewelry to afford groceries

A Texas man was arrested Saturday in connection with the murder of an Arlington woman who was trying to sell jewelry to afford groceries and Christmas presents for her little girl.

The suspect, Mario Hernan Lopez Gamez, 33, was found in Houston and charged with the mother’s death, according to a report by WFAA.

April VanCleave was shot and killed in a parking lot after she was followed home by two men. VanCleave was attempting to use the “5 Miles” app to sell jewelry, but the buyer she was supposed to meet near Target never showed up.

Investigators say that surveillance video shows two men following the victim and her husband to their apartment. When VanCleave was dropped off by her husband, she was robbed of her purse and jewelry, then shot to death by Gamez and another man who is yet to be identified.

VanCleave’s brother, Mark VanCleave, said that he hopes the unidentified subject will turn himself in, but the arrest of Gamez is still good news to the family.

“Now there’s just a little bit of relief for my family. These guys left an old couple, my parents, with a little girl to raise that cries herself to sleep every night.”

VanCleave was not the first victim to be robbed by Gamez. Marrisa Mathews, said she “immediately” recognized her robber when she saw the surveillance footage on Facebook.

Mathews was using the app “Offer Up” to sell jewelry like VanCleath when she went to meet her buyer on the street outside of her home. Gamez took the jewelry and her phone then hit the gas with Mathews’ arm still inside the vehicle. Luckily, the woman was wearing a long sleeve jacket that she unzipped herself from to break free from the truck.

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Investigators linked Gamez to accounts on both “Offer Up” and “5 Miles” on a phone, which had a high level of GPS activity, at an apartment complex in north Dallas. A five-page affidavit read that the apartment’s management positively identified a tenant as one of the men in the surveillance video.

The U.S. Marshals North Texas Task Force collaborated with the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force to arrest Gamez.

Mathews says she believes there might be other victims, but she’s glad she can tell her story when VanCleave can’t.

“Hopefully this was the last time he was able to do something like this and pull it off, but more than likely there’s other victims out there.”

[Feature Photo: GoFundMe]