SourceA 24-year-old man suspected of beating his mother to death with a hammer, setting her body on fire and then fleeing to Mexico last week has been charged with murder, according to court documents.
Jose Arturo Palacios is accused in the Aug. 3 killing of 57-year-old Laura Palacios, according to an affidavit.
Family members told investigators that he suffered from a mental disorder and was addicted to drugs.
Authorities were summoned to a fire in a wooded area in the 13600 block of Westpark around 1 p.m., where they found the mother's body “severely burned” body was discovered in the back seat of a burned Chrysler 300 that was registered to the woman, records show.
Palacios, who had been struck in the head at least 10 times, died from blunt force trauma, court documents revealed.
Investigators recovered the metal head of a hammer and a cashier's check in the amount of $3,900, written to the son, under Palacios' body, according to court documents.
Apparently Palacios' parents did not want to turn over the cashier's check — which had arrived at the family home — to their son, fearing he would spend the money on drugs, records show.
After reviewing records and surveillance footage, authorities believe Palacios purchased a $27 hammer at a Target store in the 8600 block of Westheimer the day before his mother is believed to have been murdered. The hammer head recovered from the scene is a match with his purchase, the affidavit shows.
Palacios was last seen by her husband around 11 a.m. that day, before she left to fetch her son, who had told his mother his truck had broken down.
Surveillance cameras captured the mother and son meeting in the parking lot of a gas station-convenience store in the 12000 block of Westheimer around 12:20 p.m. Palacios got out of her vehicle, greeted her son with a kiss on his cheek and got into the passenger seat, the documents show.
Investigators believe Jose Palacios then got into the driver's seat and drove westbound about two miles to the 13600 block of Westpark, where the woman's body was discovered about a half hour later.
Palacios, whose criminal history in Harris County includes a 2004 conviction for assault on a family member, is believed to have crossed into Mexico at the Laredo border checkpoint that night around 10 p.m.