Cold Case Spotlight
HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Always chosen for jury duty, a man went missing days before trial. His family searched across borders when his body was discovered shot multiple times in a canal.
Three decades later, the murder of Joseph Michael Escobedo remains unsolved.
Escobedo was a student at Texas Southmost College and a member of the Knights of Columbus, with ambitions to possibly become a teacher, according to reports at the time.
The 23-year-old man said goodbye to his family for the last time as he headed out the door for a night out on January 2, 1992.
The next day, Escobedo’s parents noticed their son’s absence as his bedroom seemed untouched.
Growing concerned following a call from Escobedo’s boss stating he had not arrived for his shift, his father began a search.
Escobedo’s father searched jails and police stations in Harlingen, Brownsville, South Padre Island, Reynosa, and even Matamoros. However, there was no trace.
After waiting 24-hours, the Escobedos filed an official missing person report with the Brownsville Police Department.
On January 4, 1992, Escobedo’s “bullet-riddled” body was discovered that same afternoon in a canal along Schmoker Road, outside Harlingen city limits near Valley International Airport, according to the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Escobedo was shot eight times with two different weapons.
Investigators spoke with Escobedo’s friends who claimed that they last saw him leaning against a car in the parking lot at the Genesis nightclub in Brownsville.
Police were not able to determine whether he left by himself or whether someone picked him up.
Feeling like they took a “part of [her] heart out,” Escobedo’s mother explained to investigators that her son was a good citizen. Emphasizing how much he enjoyed jury duty, as it was one of his “favorite hobbies.”
The mother told reporters with the Valley Morning Star at the time that Escobedo was actually expected in court within days of his disappearance and murder.
Escobedo was set to attend the trial of a county case on January 6, 1992.
Lieutenant Ernesto Flores with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office told reporters at the time that they could not find a motive. Adding that Escobedo “had a lot of friends, but few enemies.”
In their son’s memory, the Escobedos planted a white rose bush under Michael’s bedroom window shortly after his death. Escobedo’s mother shared that she takes the roses that have blossomed to his grave.
This case remains an open investigation.
Individuals with any information on this case are asked to call the Cameron County Crime Stoppers at their hotline: (866)-350-5551 or (956)-350-5551.