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Arizona Sex Offender Sentenced to Life in Prison for Kidnapping and Killing 13-Year-Old Girl. He Faces Another Murder Trial Next Year.

Christopher Matthew Clements in court (KGUN screenshot)

Christopher Matthew Clements in court (KGUN screenshot)

A 40-year-old Arizona man will spend the rest of his days behind bars for kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old girl in 2014. Pima County Superior Court Judge James E. Marner on Monday ordered Christopher Matthew Clements to spend the remainder of his natural life in prison for the murder of young Maribel Gonzalez, authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.

In addition to the life sentence for murder, Judge Marner also handed Clements a 17-year sentence on the kidnapping charge, to run consecutively.

A jury in September 2021 found Clements guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in Maribel’s June 2014 death. Prosecutors were able to convict Clements based largely on circumstantial evidence such as cell phone tracking data, DNA evidence, internet search history, and his ex-girlfriend’s testimony, according to a report from Tucson ABC affiliate KGUN-TV.

Maribel was last seen on June 3, 2014 when she left her house to walk to a friend’s home. Her body was reportedly found unclothed and stuffed under tires in a remote desert area near West Avra Valley Road and Trico Road, approximately 30 miles from her home.

Clements’ cell phone location data reportedly showed him driving to the area between the houses where Maribel was walking at the time she was abducted, the Arizona Republic reported. Additionally, prosecutors reportedly provided evidence that Clements was monitoring police radio channels and performed internet searches from his phone for “Maribel Victoria Gonzalez,”  “murdered children,” “trace evidence found on a body,” and “body in the desert.”

Maribel Gonzalez

Maribel Gonzalez, Tucson Police Department

He also had “thousands of photos” of young girls wearing little or no clothing in a hidden folder on his iPad, Tucson CBS affiliate KOLD-TV reported.

Clements’ girlfriend at the time, Melissa Stark, reportedly testified that the two of them argued the night Maribel went missing after Stark accused Clements of being romantically interested in one of her friends. She said he left their home at approximately 8 p.m. and returned between midnight and 1 a.m., per KOLD. Upon returning home, he reportedly asked her for bleach and made sure that she did not look in the trunk of his car.

He then left again, reportedly returning several hours later and asking Stark to clean all of his clothing as well as the shower curtain and the places he stepped after arriving back at the house.

Clements in February 2023 will also be tried for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Isabel Celis, who went missing from her home in Tucson in April 2012.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, authorities in Arizona for years did not realize that the disappearances of Maribel and Isabel could have been connected. When Clements was first indicted in 2018, authorities said that a tip from the FBI helped them see the link between the cases.

When the decision was made to arrest Clements, authorities did not have to look for long, as he was already in Maricopa County Jail serving time on an unrelated burglary case.

Isabel Celis

Isabel Celis, Tucson Police Department

Clements’ criminal record dates back to when he was 16 and he pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual penetration with a foreign object. Later, in 2002 he pleaded guilty to felony assault in an identity theft case. In 2006, he was convicted for felony theft.

There were also several accusations of failing to register as a sex offender. In one such case, he was sentenced in 2009 to 46 months in prison and five years of supervised release, but he successfully appealed, and was released.

[Image via Tucson County Police]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.