MIDLAND, TX – More details on the arrest of Madeline Pantoja's alleged killer has been revealed.
As previously reported, on May 20, 2023, officers with the Midland Police Department discovered Madeline's body in a field three miles east of County Road 190 and County Road 1160. For the original story see: Body of Missing Midland Woman Found & Suspect is in Custody
Hours after her remains were discovered, 24-year-old Mario Chacon was arrested by MPD and charged with murder.
New information revealed by Permian Basin news outlets reveal that Chacon had been the main person of interest since Madeline went missing on May 10. Family and friends realized that Madeline had gone missing after she failed to show up to the apartments pool the next day. Madeline's family attempted to call multiple times but there was no answer.
At the parking lot of the complex, a number of Madeline's personal items including her purse, keys, car, and even her dog was found. Police were then called to the scene. MPD entered the apartment and found a number of strange things. Facts noted included a missing kitchen table, a mop bucket with dirty water, and holes in the bathroom and bedroom door. This is when the MPD began their investigation into a murder instead of a missing person.
At the time of her disappearance, Madeline and Chacon had been in a dating relationship. In the police report it states that family and friends told police that Chacon was being "evasive" with them and would only repeat that he was with his dad on May 10. The story changed however when Chacon spoke with police.
Chacon had three separate custodial interviews on May 12, 2023. One of the interviews was at 12:05 a.m. while the other was at 5:45 p.m. Between the two interview was when police found the destroyed apartment.
During his initial interview, Chacon told police that he physically saw Madeline on May 9, 2023 and that he talked to her on the phone on 9 p.m. on May 10, 2023. The second interview however Chacon enlightened the officers of something he claimed to have forgotten about. Chacon told the officers that he did go the complex at around 11 p.m. He claimed that he was there with his cousin however and not there to see Madeline.
Police then checked his story. Surveillance footage from the complex and from a flock camera showed that Chacon was at the complex at 1:59 a.m. and at South County Road 1160 at 3:22 a.m. Chacon was brought in for a third time and was shown the holes in his story. He then elected to leave the interview and declined a polygraph test.
On May 13, 2023 a search warrant with AT&T pinged Madeline's last cell phone located. The case was then forwarded to the Texas Rangers and body was discovered. Along with the remains, a piece of jewelry was found that was known to belong to Madeline. The body has been shipped to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
Chacon remains in the Midland County Jail on a $3 Million dollar bond.