Christopher Clements found guilty of kidnapping, killing Maribel Gonzalez in Tucson
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One of Tucson’s most notorious criminal cases came to an end in a Pima County courtroom on Friday, Sept. 30.
A jury found Christopher Clements guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the death of Maribel Gonzales in 2014. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.
The defense said they plan to appeal Friday’s decision. “We feel that there are many strong upheld issues for the court of appeals and quite possibly the Arizona Supreme Court to consider,” Attorney Eric Kessler said.
Clements is also facing several charges for allegedly kidnapping and killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis in 2012. He will face a jury for Isabel’s death starting in February 2023.
Maribel was 13 years old when she went missing while walking to a friend’s home on June 3, 2014. Days later, her body was found in a desert area near Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County.
State experts testified that a pubic hair found on Maribel returned a partial DNA profile. Clements was the only one of several suspects that could not be ruled out as the source.
Cell phone records placed Clements in the area where Maribel’s body was found on both June 3 and 4.
“This is the only time I saw the device leave the Tucson area, hang out in the desert for a couple hours, go off the network and re-appear around Tucson,” said Sy Ray, the director of LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “If I looked at this with no background knowledge, I would have looked at this as an ‘area of interest.’”
A search of Clements’ electronic devices turned up several disturbing things.
His search history included phrases like “Maribel Victoria,” “Maribel Gonzales,” “murdered children,” “body found in desert” and “trace evidence found on body.”
On a hidden folder on his iPad, authorities found thousands of photos. Some of the photos were of very young girls and were taken at various spots across Tucson. An expert testified some of the girls were wearing little clothing or none.
Melissa Stark was dating Clements when Maribel went missing. She said the two got “huge argument” the night Maribel went missing and he left. Stark said she had accused Clements of being interested in one of her friends.
Stark testified that Clements left their home, which was blocks from where Maribel lived, around 8 p.m. He didn’t return until midnight or 1 a.m. and immediately asked Stark for bleach.
Stark said she showed him where it was, but he said it wasn’t enough. She said he then left in her car and returned about 15 minutes later with a jug of bleach.
Stark said Clements then asked her if she looked into the trunk of her car before leaving the home again in his vehicle.
Stark testified that Clements came back sometime between 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and asked her to wash all the clothing he was wearing, the shower curtain and anywhere he had walked in the house.
- 6-year-old Isabel Celis goes missing from family’s Tucson home
- Psychic weighs in on disappearance of Celis
- Police: CPS had previous contact with Celis family
- Father of juvenile prank callers apologizes to Celis family
- Neighbor heard male voices near Celis home the morning of her disappearance
- Maribel GonzaleZ’ father talks after body found in desert
- Friends react to Maribel Gonzalez’s suspicious death
- Police: Maribel Gonzalez was murdered
- Deeply saddened but not broken, murder victims’ families speak out
- Christopher Clements indicted in deaths of Isabel Celis and Maribel Gonzalez
- Documents reveal chilling details into Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez investigation
- Murder suspect Christopher Clements had multiple run-ins with Tucson police
- Clements pleads not guilty in deaths of Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez
- New documents reveal details in the murder of two Tucson girls
- Documents detail hours, days and weeks after the disappearance of Isabel Celis
- Best friend of Maribel Gonzalez remembers her on graduation day
- State will not seek death penalty for man accused of killing Isabel Celis, Maribel Gonzalez
- ONLY ON KOLD: Video of interrogation of accused child killer Christopher Clements
- ONLY ON KOLD: FBI interrogation videos shows deal accused child killer tried to make with special agents
- Prosecutors argue photo proves Christopher Clements kidnapped, killed Isabel Celis
- Clements convicted of burglary in Maricopa County
- Clements, accused Tucson child killer, gets prison time in Maricopa County burglary case
- High profile murder case starts in Tucson
- Jury seated for Clements’ first murder trial
- Opening statements delivered in Clements’ murder trial
- Victim’s mother takes stand in Clements’ trial
- Former girlfriend of accused child killer continues testimony
- Clements’ phone shows “unusual activity” night Maribel Gonzalez disappeared
- DNA expert said Clements cannot be excluded as a suspect
- Search of Christopher Clements’ computers revealed hundreds of child erotica images, photos taken of young girls around Tucson
- State rests case in Clements murder trial
- Defense calls first witness in trial
- Defense rests case by calling only three witnesses
- Closing arguments and case goes to the jury
- Jury fails to reach verdict on first full day of deliberations
DISAPPEARED IN THE DESERT
KOLD has been covering the case for years. In 2021, we released an award-winning podcast called Disappeared in the Desert.
Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.