May 20, 2023 | 11:15 p.m
Mario Juan Chacon was arrested for first degree murder in the death of Madeline Pantoja.
Midland County Sheriff’s Office
The body of a missing 20-year-old Texas woman was found Saturday, 10 days after she disappeared, police said.
Mario Juan Chacon, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Madeline Pantoja, according to Midland County Sherrif’s records.
Police have not released any additional information about Pantoja’s death, other than that it was a homicide pending autopsy results.
Pantoja was last seen around 11 p.m. on May 10 after a night out with friends in the town of Midland, about 300 miles west of Dallas.
Friends and family were immediately suspicious when they couldn’t reach her the next day – the young woman had left her phone, wallet keys and dog in her apartment.
Concerned loved ones grew increasingly angry after a week passed with no progress in the search for Pantoja.
About 100 people protested outside Midland Police Department headquarters Thursday to call for “justice” after what they said was a “lack of investigation” by police, KTSM reported.
Friends believed Pantoja’s ex-boyfriend – who she had recently broken up with and who had a key to her flat – was to blame but had not been publicly named as a person of interest.
Pantoja’s neighbors told the outlet they had heard a man and woman arguing inside her apartment the night she disappeared.
Midland police could not immediately confirm whether Chacon was Pantoja’s ex.
Midland Mayor Lori Blong vowed Friday that police were working “tirelessly to search and gather information and evidence” in the missing person’s case and were working with the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Rangers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security.
According to Police Chief Seth Herman, the department searched 60 square miles or remote property using ground personnel, drones and aircraft, executed over a dozen search warrants, interviewed 25 people and investigated 20 tips leading up to the discovery of Pantoja’s body.