Cops Seek Former Friend in Woman's 1995 Cold Case

'Finding Carlos is of critical importance' to solving Maria Telles-Gonzalez's killing, authorities say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2023 10:25 AM CDT
Former Friend Sought in Florida Woman's 1995 Murder
Maria Telles-Gonzalez pictured with a man identified only as "Carlos."   (Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

A woman's body was found in a drainage ditch off Interstate 95 in Yemassee, South Carolina, on May 24, 1995. She was wearing only underwear and had no possessions. Apart from a couple of scars, there were no identifiers. As a result, it took authorities more than 27 years to put a name to the body. In December, using advanced DNA technology and genealogy research, authorities finally identified the woman as Maria Telles-Gonzalez, a wife and mother from Kissimmee, Florida, who would've been 36 at the time of her death, per WKMG. Now they say they're looking for a Florida man who may be connected to the case. More on the developments:

  • Mystery man: New leads have pointed investigators to a possible witness, a Hispanic male named "Carlos" who was in his early to mid-30s at the time of Telles-Gonzalez's death. The Island Packet describes him as "a former close friend" of the victim.

  • What we know: He's thought to have been living in Central Florida, possibly Orlando, when he met Telles-Gonzalez around 1995. He was between 5'8" and 5'10" with a slender build and "spoke Spanish and very good English," according to a release, per WKMG.
  • Photos: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is asking the public to review two photos of Carlos and Telles-Gonzalez together, as well as an age-progression image of what Carlos might look like now, and to provide any relevant information.
  • 'Critical importance': "Finding Carlos is of critical importance to furthering the investigation at this point," Reserve Deputy Sheriff Investigator Bob Bromage of South Carolina's Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says in a video posted at the end of July. "Carlos may have information on the circumstances of her disappearance and her death."

  • Disappearance: Relatives told investigators that Telles-Gonzalez had returned to Florida from Puerto Rico, where she'd visited family, the night before she disappeared. According to Bromage, she was at the family home with her husband the next morning when her children left for school, but she was missing when they returned.
  • The husband: Authorities haven't named him, nor said why he isn't under suspicion. He's presumably the last known person to have seen Telles-Gonzalez alive. He was left alone with her when the children went to school, per the Island Packet. He never reported his wife missing, nor did anyone else.
  • Death: Detectives determined Telles-Gonzalez died from strangulation. They believe she was killed in Florida before her body was quickly transported to South Carolina, per WOFL. She is thought to have been dead only a day or two before her body was found.
(Read more cold cases stories.)

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