HOUSTON, TX (The Houston Chronicle) – The man accused of stabbing an elderly woman to death in her Sharpstown home detailed the gruesome killing to police investigators, saying that he spent at least 40 minutes with her as she begged for her life, according to prosecutors.
Marco Cobos, 19, allegedly used multiple knives to stab Etta Nugent to death for about 40 minutes to an hour, according to the charging documents which prosecutors read aloud during his first appearance in court Wednesday morning. The medical examiner reported finding more than 13 stab wounds on the 75-year-old woman’s body.
He has been charged with capital murder in Nugent’s death. The Mexican national is being held at the Harris County Jail without bond and federal authorities have placed an immigration detainer on him.
Cobos, who also is homeless, had sought help from Nugent to fix his broken down Ford F-150, but she was unable to “because of her age,” police said.
The truck Cobos had been sleeping in had been reported stolen in Phoenix, Arizona, authorities said. Before the attack, neighbors said they saw Cobos and his vehicle parked outside Nugent’s home in the 8100 block of Neff Street.
Prosecutors said Cobos confessed to stabbing the woman around 10 p.m. Sunday.
“The family of Etta Nugent is heartbroken and in absolute shock at the senseless tragedy that unfolded before them this week,” relatives to the slain woman said in a statement. “Etta was a kind, gentle and generous woman who lived her life with unwavering dedication to her faith, family and friends.”
“To see her life end in such a tragic, evil matter is simply unexplainable,” the statement continued.
Nugent, a mother of three and grandmother to six, was a retired parish secretary at Holy Ghost Catholic Church and attended St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church.
The family thanked the Houston Police Department and “observant neighbors” whose tips helped police identify Nugent’s alleged assailant and apprehend him.
Nugent’s son found her dead in the living room after she failed to answer her phone or visit her husband Monday morning at a convalescent care facility.
The son also reported that her Honda Accord had been stolen.
Police found Cobos’ stolen Ford F-150 around 8:30 p.m., about a quarter mile from Nugent’s home. Police then saw Cobos arrive in Nugent’s car and park behind the truck, prosecutors said. He was walking toward the Nugents resident when police arrested him.
During an interview, police said he confessed to forcing his way into the home. He forced his way into the home as Nugent spoke to him through a crack in the door. He stabbed her in the chest and went to the kitchen to find more knives, according to prosecutors.
He heard the doorbell ring and saw Nugent on the front porch trying to escape. Cobos said he went outside and grabbed her in a “bear hug.” He got more knives from the kitchen and continued stabbing her until she died.
Cobos took her car keys and about $560 from her purse to buy food and a new battery for the stolen F-150, prosecutors said. He returned again to eat and look through her belongings, prosecutors said.
Cobos admitted to taking three credit cards from her purse and using them at a truck stop in Edna, prosecutors. He also used the cards to pay his cellphone bill.
A court-appointed defense attorney said that Cobos, having lived in the U.S. for the past 18 years, most recently worked at a Houston grocery. He had been out of a job for the past week, the lawyer said.
He is slated to return to court 9 a.m. Thursday in the 174th District Court.