Maria Elena Jimenez-Rodriguez

Jimenez-Rodriguez, circa 2018; Erik Arceneaux

  • Missing Since 06/21/2018
  • Missing From Houston, Texas
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race Hispanic
  • Date of Birth 10/30/1988 (35)
  • Age 29 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'3, 115 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A dressy short-sleeved shirt (possibly green), pastel-colored slacks, brown ballet slipper type shoes and a pink Apple watch. Carrying a tan purse (possibly Coach or Michael Kors brand).
  • Associated Vehicle(s) Silver truck (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Hispanic female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Jimenez-Rodriguez may wear eyeglasses. Her ears are pierced and she has several moles on her face, including one on her right temple.

Details of Disappearance

Jimenez-Rodriguez was last seen in the 6900 block of Texarkana Street in Houston, Texas on June 21, 2018. She dropped her four-year-old daughter off at the babysitter's house next door, went home to get her purse and gym bag, and left again. Her brother watched her as she left the house to go to work.

She worked as a paralegal at Milledge Law Firm. She was usually at work by 8:00 a.m. or earlier, but she didn't arrive by then. At 8:57 a.m., a coworker got a message from her phone that said, "Good morning I am running late stuck in traffic." At 10:12 a.m., the coworker got another message saying, "Hey had to turn back around the nanny asked me to take [my daughter] because she’s not acting right."

Jimenez-Rodriguez's coworker repeatedly tried to call and text her back, but didn't hear back until another text came at 6:18 p.m. The third and final message said, "Sorry I’m ok and [my daughter] is fine but this red truck with two white boys or Hispanics seem like they been following me call you from a safe place."

Jimenez-Rodriguez has never been heard from again. The babysitter had not, in fact, contacted her after she left for work, and her coworker doesn't believe the final message from her phone was actually written by her.

The last message was longer than Jimenez-Rodriguez's texts usually were, and while her texts were always a mix of Spanish and English words, the final message was not. The message also referred to her daughter by a nickname her mother never used. Jimenez-Rodriguez's sister said she wouldn't have texted anyone if she thought she was in danger, but would have called 911 or used her vehicle's On-Star system instead.

The day after Jimenez-Rodriguez's disappearance, her silver truck was found abandoned. It was parked in the 100 block of Port Street about half a mile from her home, and not along the route she would have normally taken to work. The truck was locked and in good running condition and her gym bag was inside it, but her purse, keys and phone were missing.

In August 2019, Erik Fardell Arceneaux was charged with Jimenez-Rodriguez's murder. Although he told police he was her boyfriend, Jimenez-Rodriguez's loved ones said he was only her personal trainer at her gym, and that he developed an obsession with her. She wasn't interested in a relationship with him, and and he began stalking her after she rejected him.

A photo of Arceneaux is posted with this case summary. Investigators believe he killed her and dismembered her body with a chainsaw. Her remains have not been found, and he remains at large. He was 47 years old in 2019, and is described as African-American, 5'8 and 160 pounds, with short black hair and brown eyes.

Arcenaux told police he hadn't seen Jimenez-Rodriguez on the day of her disappearance, but their cellular phone records indicate the phone were together at the same location. He has an extensive criminal record and a history of violence against women; he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2011 after he held a gun to a previous girlfriend's head and drove around Houston while threatening to kill her.

Authorities tracked the couple's phones to a Home Depot store in northwest Houston, and surveillance video from the store showed a man matching Arceneaux's description buying a chainsaw and trash bags. Police also found a receipt for those items, signed with Arceneaux's name. Jimenez-Rodriguez was not sighted on the Home Depot surveillance video.

A search of Arceneaux's home in the 5000 block of Evella Street revealed blood on the walls and ceiling, although police were unable to test the blood for DNA. Authorities also identified Arceneaux as the person seen abandoning Jimenez-Rodriguez's truck on Port Street and walking away from the vehicle. His image was captured on surveillance video at that location.

Jimenez-Rodriguez is described as intelligent, outgoing, responsible and a devoted mother, and it's uncharacteristic of her to miss work or leave without warning. Foul play is suspected in her case due to the circumstances involved.

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated February 3, 2020; details of disappearance updated.