Police: East Texas Boy Is Murdered and Sexually Assaulted - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/16/07-Carthage

Police: East Texas Boy Is Murdered and Sexually Assaulted

An East Texas 4-year-old boy was sexually assaulted and murdered by a man, police say, worked and lived with his family.  Police were called out to a home in Carthage Sunday morning. Residents there say they are stunned, such a horrible murder could happen where they live.

Teddy bears and flowers are a makeshift memorial to 4-year-old Joey Zhang-Liu who, residents say, used to greet customers at his parents' Chinese restaurant in Carthage.

"He was just joyful, always playing, every time I would come and grab my leg, would just hug me he was real nice and sweet," says Liketia Harris, who remembers the little boy.

Police say Rogerio Chaves Garcia, 27, has confessed to strangling and sexually assaulting the boy. Police say he worked at the restaurant and lived with the family in their home.  

"Everybody wants to know why and sometimes you never why, that was their biggest question, why would they do it to my child," says Assistant Police Chief Jim Vanover.

Police say his parents found Joey wrapped up in a comforter next to his bed, with a broken arm, bruises on his jaw and around his neck. 

"This is probably the worst I've seen in my 27 years of police work," adds Vanover.

News of such a heinous murder has shocked the small town of Carthage, especially those who knew the family through their restaurant business. 

"It's hard to talk about," says Robert McDaniel.  He owns the Mexican restaurant next door and would see the boy and his family everyday.  

"Just makes your hair crawl, thinking that they're right beside you, you never know what people are going to do," he adds.

"I couldn't believe it whenever I heard about it, I just can't imagine, because I have three kids," says Crystal Ballenger, a Carthage resident.

"I think everybody right now is in shock...just not knowing, believing that anything could happen like that here," says Karen Peterson, owner of The Village Hair Salon next door to the Chinese restaurant. 

Right now, the community is banding together and paying their respects to a family who's lost so much.

"We're praying for this family and I wish that everybody else would also cause right now that's what they need," Karen says.

Police say Garcia is an illegal immigrant. Authorities say they were afraid he would flee to Mexico, so his bond has been set at 12 million dollars. He's been charged with capital murder.

Tracy Watler/Reporting: tracy@kltv.com

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