Seven weeks have passed
since 5-year-old Julian Salazar Soliz was found dead, his body abandoned in front of a North Austin home.
Little is known about the investigation into who killed the energetic little boy who liked to sing to his teachers. No suspects have been named. It's unclear how Julian died, and sheriff's investigators have told the county medical examiner's office not to publicly release the preliminary autopsy findings
. Any developments in the case are being tightly held.
It has proved to be one of the most demanding homicide investigations for the Travis County sheriff's office this year, spokesman Roger Wade said.
"There are cases where there are smoking guns and confessions, but those are more rare," he said. "More often, you have to work a case the old-fashioned way."
For now, Wade said, key details in the case, including any autopsy findings, are not being released to avoid putting out information that "aids and assists the perpetrator of the case."
However, Wade emphasized that the investigation has become a priority: a detective has been assigned full time, and additional resources, including deputies who were on light duty, have been drawn in to assist.
They have been combing through tips, witness interviews and surveillance videos close to the Wells Branch neighborhood where Julian was found, Wade said.
One detail about the investigation remains clear: Julian was not killed by a stranger.
"This is not a case where a stranger abducted Julian and did something to him," Wade said, without elaborating on the evidence.
The case has triggered scrutiny for those closest to Julian, including the caretaker who reported him missing, the boy's father and his mother.
Since Julian's death, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has initiated investigations into all three individuals: the caretaker, Nichole Turner, 22 ; the boy's father, Leonard "Ivan" Soliz, 21 ; and his mother, Jessica Salazar, 23. In April, the agency began legal efforts to terminate the parental rights of Turner and Soliz for two other children, placing an infant boy and a 5-year-old girl who had lived with Julian in state custody. Another hearing on the case is scheduled Monday .
The state has allowed Salazar to retain custody of her two children from other relationships. This month , the agency initiated a "family-based safety services" case in a Travis County court, requiring Salazar to attend parenting classes and submit to supervised home visits.
Salazar has said she had not seen Julian for a month before he was found dead. In an interview last week , Salazar said Julian's father had wanted to spend more time with the boy early last year and began taking him on extended visits that grew to full-time custody by the end of the year.
Salazar said she didn't get him back because she feared an altercation with Soliz; she said she often argued with him over his parenting style. Child Protective Services officials talked to both parents in 2005 after an altercation between the two left a scratch on Julian, who was an infant, according to the Department of Family and Protective Services.
Salazar said she never surrendered legal control of Julian but wasn't able to find legal aid assistance to get him back.
Wade said the lack of public updates doesn't mean the case has gone cold.
"We are still working Julian's case as if it happened yesterday," he said. "There is a lot of information in this case that if we put it out, it would interfere with the integrity of the case."
Salazar is holding on to hope that her son's killer will soon be found.
"I am trying to be strong for my other kids," she said. But Julian "is missed and loved to this day. I pray to God they find whoever did this, so he can rest in peace, I can rest in peace and his family can rest in peace."