Today marks five years since he was murdered while walking home. His family shares how they're keeping his dreams to study medicine alive.
LUPITA FLORES: Like I still have those memories like of holding and caring for him.
RICHARD GUERRA: The first thing I heard is him crying, you know, [INAUDIBLE]
- We, here in the United States of America, a child cannot walk from point A to point B going home from school.
LUPITA FLORES: I just feel like I wasn't there then, so like I need to be here now.
PUGIL ODIA: A lot has happened in five years.
- Preserve, protect, and defend.
PUGIL ODIA: The 2016 presidential election, Hurricane Harvey, a World Series win, the murder of Houston's own George Floyd. But in five years, enough time for children to become teenagers, there is still no closure for the family of Josue Flores.
LUPITA FLORES: Nobody heard his cries for help. It's like, five years later like nobody is still hearing him.
PUGIL ODIA: It was May 17th of 2016, around 4:45 PM, Josue Flores was 11 years old, walking home from a science party at Marshall Middle School.
RICHARD GUERRA: He told them, please, please take everything. Don't kill me, please. That's when I said, oh my God, something's really happening. That's when I seen him over him, doing like this. But when he grabbed his jacket, you just see blood. You just see blood. And he grabbed it like this and he started running.
PUGIL ODIA: Josue had been stabbed more than 20 times, just three blocks from his home.
RICHARD GUERRA: You all right? He go, he he, I just want to go home. I want to go home. And he tried to walk right here, and he took a couple of steps, and then he went down this way, kneel down and lay down.
PUGIL ODIA: The next day, police arrested a man based on witness tips. But they let him go two days later when his alibi checked out. Three weeks after that, Houston Police arrested former marine Andre Jackson. A year after that, charges against Jackson were dropped after DNA tests on his jacket came back inconclusive.
ANDRE JACKSON: I'm just tired of hearing my name associated with this case.
PUGIL ODIA: Then in 2019, Houston Police's Cold Case Unit took up the case. And what does this crime mean to this community, what does it mean to the police department?
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ: This is one of the most horrific crimes that you can investigate, is the killing-- the intentional killing of a child.
PUGIL ODIA: The team retested Jackson's jacket, using new, more sensitive technology.
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ: The evidence came back positive that there was Josue's blood on the defendant's jacket. I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a psychologist, I'm just going off of what I feel as an investigator. And I think when he was out and about, everything just kind of came together at one time, and then for whatever reason, he just snapped. Unfortunately, Josue was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and just a truly helpless, innocent victim that he could have complete control over, which is what he did. He controlled and took over, and took away his life.
- The victim was attacked and stabbed approximately 20 times.
PUGIL ODIA: Jackson was indicted by a grand jury in 2019, and is now charged with murder for the second time. It has been two years since then, and Jackson is still in jail awaiting trial. If Josue were alive today, he would be 16, old enough to help his two older sisters and take care of his three younger brothers. What kind of community is it when an 11-year-old gets stabbed on his way home from school, and five years later nobody has been tried.
RICHARD RODRIGUEZ: We've done everything that we can do on our side, at this point, we're just waiting for the DA's office to do their side.
PUGIL ODIA: One of the problems, according to the district attorney, is the coronavirus pandemic. From March of 2020 to March of 2021, there were only eight district court felony trials held in the county. Jackson's case has been rescheduled.
LUPITA FLORES: It's like he's just a name on a paper now to them, and, like, that name, it just went into a pile of papers. Everybody's still getting their checks, whether they get it done or not. And I just don't think it's fair--
PUGIL ODIA: The Flores family no longer lives here, and a volunteer group dedicated to make sure kids walk home from school safely, has been abandoned over the years.
- You'll see that a lot of blinds are closed, there's no one really looking out the window. It hurts, it hurts. It does. This wasn't just a child that belonged to the Flores family, he was a child that belonged to-- a US citizen who belonged to Texas, who belonged to Harris County, who belonged to Houston, who belong to this community on the Northside.
RICHARD GUERRA: I wake up hearing his scream, scream, and I can't go to sleep or nothing. Everybody is mad. Everybody's mad because everybody wants justice. It's been too long already.
JESUS CANTU MEDEL: Those are examples that the community needs to see, that if people commit such a horrendous and insidious crime, the community needs to see that action is taken.
PUGIL ODIA: The memorial here has stayed the same over the years. Josue's name permanently etched, not just in the same spot where he died, but the same spot where he skipped along nearly every day of his life. With justice so long delayed, his family has no choice but to focus on Josue's life instead of his death.
LUPITA FLORES: So that's what motivated me to start working at an assisted living home. I was like, what better place, you know, to do what you can to help others. Looking at his pictures and videos doesn't help. So that's what I try and encourage everyone to just keep doing what he would've did. It's what makes me better. It makes me feel better, and it makes it a little better.
PUGIL ODIA: She's now training to become a nurse, working to fulfill her brother's dreams of studying medicine. Five years later, this is Josue's legacy.
LUPITA FLORES: He was a sweet boy.
PUGIL ODIA: In North Houston, Pugil Odia.
LUPITA FLORES: Everything he did, he just did it out of love.
PUGIL ODIA: ABC13, Eyewitness News.