Skip to main content

‘Distraught’ Man Murdered Wife and 5-Year-Old Son, Made Cryptic Call to 911 and Then Died by Suicide: Police


A man murdered his wife and young son, made a cryptic 911 call and died by suicide, according to police in Portland, Texas. Roel Garza, 52, allegedly shot and killed wife Jennifer Phillips, 36, and their son Eli Garza, 5.

He called 911 on Saturday at about 1:30 a.m., but he did not reveal much, cops said, according to KIII-TV.

“Received a 911 call from a distraught male who was advising that he needed law enforcement assistance,” Portland Police Chief Mark Cory told reporters.

Dispatch attempted to get more information from him, police said.

“Just come now,” Roel Garza said in 911 audio obtained by KRIS-TV.

He hung up.

Officers described finding a tragic, horrifying murder scene at the home in northeast Portland. The front door was open, according to the official version of events in the KIII report. Cops found three people dead inside the child’s bedroom: Jennifer Phillips, Eli Garza and the perpetrator Roel Garza.

Garza shot both Phillips and Eli twice, Cory said. The chief described the mother as struck “multiple times in the head.”

“We had four officers on scene, and it was rough on them,” Cory said. “It’s a difficult situation when you walk in on a welfare check and then you discover three deceased bodies, and especially one’s a child.”

Under the police timeline, the father killed his family, made the 911 call and then died by suicide.

“It’s apparent in the investigation that once the suspect Mr. Garza made the call to the police department, he committed suicide in the bedroom where the wife and child had already been killed,” Cory said.

The motive behind these killings remains publicly unknown, but Roel Garza allegedly planned this. He contacted family members Friday evening, said Cory, who did not elaborate much. The chief described the father’s preliminary actions in general terms.

“There were some measures taken by the suspect Mr. Garza earlier in the evening in preparatory of this double homicide,” Cory told reporters, according to KRIS-TV.

Roel Garza did not have a history of violence before the murder-suicide, cops said. The investigation is ongoing.

Neighbors described Jennifer Phillips as, in the words of KRIS-TV, “the heart of the community,” and Eli as a “playful soul.”

[Screengrab of memorial for Jennifer Phillips and Eli Garza at their home via KIII]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: