Homicide victims

Valarie Martinez, 24, holds her 1-year-old daughter Azariah. They were killed in a “targeted” shooting Sunday.

Jessica Krupicka photo

A 24-year-old mother and her 1-year-old daughter were victims of a “targeted” attack near a park site outside of Hallsburg on Sunday afternoon, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said Monday.

The bodies of Valarie Martinez and her infant daughter, Azariah, were found at McLennan Park 3, near Tradinghouse Creek Reservoir, shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Authorities found Martinez shot to death outside of a car while her daughter was found shot to death while she was still buckled into a car seat in the car.

“This was not a random act and we believe these people were targeted,” McNamara said. “We are working around the clock on this thing and we have a lot of detectives and officers assigned to it.”

Investigators worked throughout the night after the “heartbreaking” double homicide was discovered, McNamara said. No arrests were made overnight as detectives continue to look into the circumstances around the pair’s deaths.

According to the Texas penal code, the death of one or more people during the same criminal transaction makes a suspect eligible for a charge of capital murder. The murder of a person under the age of 10 years old also makes a suspect eligible for a charge of capital murder.

“We have had leads come in from the public and the media. We are following up on all of them,” McNamara said.

A candlelight vigil has been organized for 6 p.m. Sunday at the park, off Willbanks Drive near the waterfront.

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.

Recommended for you