The Evidence Room, Episode 35 - In the Name of Satan

What happened to Corriann Cervantes when she was 15 years old terrified the entire Houston area.

In this episode of KPRC 2 Investigates nationally recognized show ‘The Evidence Room,’ you’ll see how the case deeply affected veteran homicide detectives and prosecutors.

“In all of my 25 years I’ve seen a lot of evil, and I’ve seen a lot of crime scenes and crime scene photos,” said Chief of the Trial Bureau for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, John Jordan. “I had never seen a crime as brutal as this one.”

Corriann Cervantes (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

On Feb. 4, 2014, Cervantes’ mutilated body was found inside a vacant Clear Lake area apartment. A satanic symbol was carved into a wall and an upside-down cross was carved onto Cervantes’ stomach.

“As you can imagine, the community was in shock, in fear. I mean, you have what looks like some type of satanic situation or ritual,” said Jordan.

A vacant apartment

On Feb. 4, 2014, according to court documents, Cervantes got into an argument with her father over cutting class. When her father went to buy groceries, Cervantes left her Friendswood area apartment and met up with friends.

“She was being raised by her father, a single dad. She was loved greatly by him as well as her aunt that was very present in her life,” said Jordan. “She was struggling as a 15-year-old, as many do, and got into an argument with her dad. (She) left the apartment, and it would have been nice if she’d gone into the hands of friends that would listen to her, counsel her, pick her up. But instead, she went into the arms of Jose Reyes and Victor Alas. They took advantage of the situation, and by the end of the night, she was dead.”

Court documents read Cervantes and some of her friends smoked marijuana before going to the apartment of a woman who lived in The Bays apartment complex.

“Candy sometimes allowed teenagers to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol in her apartment,” court documents read.

“It was teenagers who probably were experimenting with things they shouldn’t have experimented with, but I think we all should be the last to judge because I think we all do things as teenagers that lead to us being better people,” said Jordan. “Corriann should have had the same chance.”

Jose Reyes, Corriann Cervantes and Victor Alas (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

During the course of the evening, Cervantes appeared intoxicated and Candy offered to let her spend the night in her apartment. However, Cervantes said she wanted to go to a female friend’s apartment in the same complex. Jose Reyes, 17, and Victor Alas, 16, agreed to help Cervantes make it to her friend’s apartment.

“They ended up going into this known vacant apartment, meaning the teenagers would be able to slip in there through sliding glass doors and open windows. It was basically a dump,” said Jordan. “They ended up taking advantage of, in my opinion, Corriann in her state, and they ended up involved in a consensual threesome inside a closet underneath the stairwell in that vacant apartment.”

Jordan said while the encounter may have begun as consensual, something happened that forced Cervantes to defend herself.

“According to Jose Reyes, Corriann at some point bit his penis. He told that to his sister, and he told that to his friends afterward,” said Jordan.

Jordan adds the teens then proceeded to beat Cervantes with the top of a porcelain toilet tank, mutilate her body and stab her over 60 times with a small screwdriver.

“Before they’re done, they carve an upside-down cross in her abdomen,” said Jordan.

Four days later

Cervantes was murdered on Feb. 4, but her body was not discovered until Feb. 8, according to crime scene video taken by investigators with the Houston Forensic Science Center. Jordan said another teen who lived in the complex went inside the vacant apartment to smoke marijuana and discovered Cervantes’ body. However, Cervantes had been so disfigured she was not recognizable and had no identification. Detectives who worked the crime scene initially thought the body was that of a woman in her 30s.

Cervantes’ family filed a missing person report when the teen didn’t come home, but it wouldn’t be until dental records and x-rays confirmed her identity the family was notified of her death.

“For those days after this murder, we didn’t have any suspects. The community was freaking out, not knowing what we had, and the initial checks of DNA didn’t seem to suggest we had anything. Nobody had seen anything, so we were worried, ‘Are we going to get anything?’” Jordan said.

Apartment where Corriann Cervantes was killed. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Jordan said the break in the case came from the mother of Reyes’ child. Jordan said Reyes confided in his sister Alas and he killed Cervantes, and that conversation was overheard by the mother of his child. Jordan said at first the teen didn’t know what to do with the information, but confronted Reyes with what she heard. Court documents read Reyes told her, “It was because somebody wanted her soul.”

Jordan said the teen had a relationship with a Webster police officer, who encouraged her to stay in school after she became truant.

“She didn’t call 911, all she could think of is, ‘Okay, there’s this officer who is nice to me, this officer who encourages me to stay in school,’ and she didn’t have his phone number, but she sent him a Facebook message,” said Jordan.

Jordan said the girl told the officer what Reyes said and within hours police had a warrant for his arrest.

In the name of Satan

“He does give a statement, but we don’t use it because he was in custody and he wasn’t properly read his Miranda warnings,” said Jordan.

However, Jordan said Reyes implicated Alas in the murder. Alas was a juvenile at the time the crime was committed, but was later certified to stand trial as an adult. After initially denying any involvement, Alas confessed to having sex with Cervantes and being present when she was beaten and mutilated. However, he downplayed his involvement in her murder.

“So, you’re saying that Jose did everything and you just stood there and did nothing?” a detective asks Alas during a recorded interview on Feb. 10, 2014.

“Yes sir, I was tripping(sic). I didn’t know what was going on,” Alas responds.

“So, the girl that you’re having sex with starts getting beat to death and you stand there and watch, that’s pretty cold. Jose is not a big guy, you could have probably saved her if he’s the one that did all this,” the detective said.

“You all can look at my background and everything. I’m really not a fighter, I don’t fight. Like, I come from Clear Lake. I’m a good person,” Alas said.

Alas eventually told investigators he choked Cervantes with his belt at Reyes’ direction, but that he didn’t actually kill her. Detectives then tell Alas that Reyes told them Cervantes was killed so they could sell their souls to the devil.

“No, that’s a lie. I did not, I did not do that. I would not sell my soul to the devil,” Alas told detectives.

“Jose just made that up,” the detective said.

“He said he was going to sell his soul to the devil, but I’m not selling my soul,” Alas said.

During the interview, Alas told investigators he threw the screwdriver used to stab Cervantes in a clump of bushes outside a church, but again denied stabbing the teen. Investigators did recover the screwdriver. Jordan said he does believe Reyes was the main instigator of the torture and murder, but adds Alas was no less culpable.

"666" found (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Jordan said investigators also learned Reyes did have a fascination with the devil, and court records read photographs taken inside Reyes’ home, “showed an upside-down cross, a pentagram, and “666″ carved or written onto items.”

“According to (Reyes), and I’m not going to contradict it, from what I’ve seen the devil was inside him. There’s good and evil and he was clearly evil,” said Jordan. “You can’t divorce his strength and belief in the devil from this very evil act, because quite frankly, it’s the only way I can process it because drugs don’t make you do something so brutal. It’s got to be a combination of anger, drugs, and a belief that you’re doing what’s right in your own mind.

Jordan said when investigators began questioning other teens at the complexes, they learned Reyes messaged his sister and a friend the night of the murder asking for a ride and claiming he had committed a robbery. Jordan said those messages indicated Reyes was at a grocery store across the street from where the murder took place. Other friends of Reyes testified the day after the murder he was rapping lyrics like, “Then we beat her and then she tried to run and we grabbed her and started stabbing her. And she asked us why, and we said we’re helping you to sell our souls.”

“We were able to bond with these teenagers and they trusted us, and I think they understood the gravity of what their friend had done so they were cooperative,” said Jordan.

Jordan said while Reyes was in jail, investigators monitored his mail and phone calls. One letter written by Reyes read, “I was sick-minded stabbing (sic) that hoe 60 times. It’s all good, it’s wat(sic) the devil wanted.”

“I thought when I saw that this is someone who’s still proud of what he did,” said Jordan. “It would be bad enough to, in that moment, with the devil influence, with you being on Xanax and your anger, and you’re overreacting; but even in the calm of a jail cell, he is still celebrating what he had done.”

Two trials, two convictions

Reyes went on trial in Dec. 2014, and was found guilty of capital murder with the sexual assault and kidnapping of Cervantes being the underlying felonies.

Jordan said the moment Cervantes bit Reyes, the encounter went from consensual to a sexual assault, and by both teens’ admission they stopped Cervantes from running away, which constitutes kidnapping.

Alas went on trial the following June and was also found guilty of capital murder. Since both were under the age of 18 at the time of the murder, neither was eligible for the death penalty or a punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Both were given automatic life sentences but will be eligible for parole after serving 40 years, which, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, will be in the year 2054.

“You always hope that there’s humility in somebody. I’m starting to understand after 25 years of doing this, there’s not. And it’s not me to judge, it’s just my job to hold them accountable and make sure that they don’t hurt anybody else,” said Jordan. “I would hope that a future parole board will look at the brutal nature of the crime and come to the same conclusion that I have, that I hope he’s never among us again.”

About the Author

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”

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