Valarie Martinez, Azariah

Valarie Martinez, 24, holds her 1-year-old daughter Azariah. They were shot and killed earlier this month, and officials were searching the Brazos River on Tuesday near Loop 340 for a weapon involved in the case.

Jessica Krupicka photo

A trio of law enforcement agencies started searching along the Brazos River on Tuesday near Loop 340 for the weapon used in the shooting deaths of a mother and her baby earlier this month.

Officials with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Game Wardens started the search about 10 a.m.

Investigators believe a gun used in the deaths of Valarie Martinez, 24, and her daughter, Azariah, 1, is in the area, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. Martinez and Azariah were found dead Nov. 5 near Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir.

“We are just trying to build the best case possible and are leaving no stone unturned,” McNamara said. “We are working around the clock on this.

“We are looking for any gun that may be tied to the crime.”

Authorities spent the majority of the day searching the river and surrounding wooded areas but did not find a weapon Tuesday, McNamara said. The search will resume Wednesday morning.

Christopher Paul Weiss, 26, of Temple, was arrested on a capital murder charge in the killings Nov. 7 while traveling in Temple with his wife. According to his arrest affidavit, Weiss “reluctantly admitted to owning a .22 caliber revolver.” He told investigators he kept his revolver in his truck, but the gun and a tool bag were stolen from his truck several months ago and he never reported the thefts, the affidavit states.

Investigators believe Weiss is Azariah’s father, and Martinez told him she may start seeking child support payments from him, according to the affidavit.

A witness reported Weiss and Martinez had been arguing and agreed to meet near Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir the night before her body was found, according to the affidavit.

Weiss remains in McLennan County Jail with bond listed at $1 million as the investigation continues.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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