Neil Mukherjee, 20, is charged with capital murder, accused in the killing of Vanessa Rodriguez, 23, at about 11am on November 8 at her apartment in the 8500 block of Pitner.
HPD officers arrived at the scene after Rodriguez called 911 and reported she had been shot. Officers her on the floor of her apartment. Rodriguez was taken to the hospital where she died. Rodriguez's one-year-old child was also found unharmed inside the apartment.
Police say Rodriguez did not know Mukherjee and was randomly targeted during a robbery attempt. They think he targeted innocent young mothers.
"Ms. Rodrguez was an utterly and completely innocent victim, just minding her own business, in her own home, in the middle of the day, when this happened to her," said HPD Homicide Division Sergeant W. Meeler. "It means it could happen to any one of us."
Following the airing of surveillance video and photos in the local media of someone seen lurking around Rodriguez' apartment complex shortly before her shooting, further investigation developed information that identified Mukherjee as the suspect in this case. Information was also received that he was in Donna, Texas. HPD homicide investigators, with assistance from local law enforcement in Donna, arrested him there last Thursday without incident.
Police say Mukherjee has been linked to a robbery in Harris County in the 15000 block of Kuykendahl about an hour after the killing of Rodriguez. In that case, a woman, home alone with a child, was also targeted in an apparent robbery attempt. A shot was also fired at the woman, but fortunately neither she nor her child was harmed.
Sgt. Meeler believes Mukherjee may have targeted other women home alone with children during the daytime hours. Sgt. Meeler says Mukherjee may have also specifically gone after women who were undocumented immigrants.
"They are people unlikely to come forward and report this kind of crime," said Sgt. Meeler. "We want them to come forward. The Houston Police Department does not care about their undocumented status. We will investigate that crime and we will see that this man is charged with what he deserves."
Mukherjee is also believed to have sold the gun, a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol, used in both cases, to someone in the Greenspoint area.
"Obviously, we want to get that gun off the streets," said Sgt. Meeler. "If the person he sold it to is out there and he sold you that gun, please turn it in. Basically, there will be no questions asked."
Anyone with information ont the whereabouts of the gun used by Mukherjee is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600. Anyone with information on any similar cases, possibly involving Mukherjee, is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.