Body of missing 20-year-old woman found, ex-boyfriend arrested

The enduring ten-day search for a missing 20-year-old woman in Texas culminated in a tragic outcome on Saturday, with the discovery of her body and a subsequent arrest.

Mario Juan Chacon, a 24-year-old male, has been taken into custody. He also faces charges of first-degree murder in relation to the death of Madeline Pantoja, as revealed by Midland County Sheriff’s office.

The circumstances around Pantoja’s death, however, remain unclear with the authorities stating it as a homicide. They are awaiting further insights from the forthcoming autopsy.

Before her disappearance, Pantoja was last seen in Midland, situated approximately 300 miles west of Dallas, returning from an evening with friends on May 10, around 11 p.m. Alarm bells were immediately raised by her friends and family when they were unable to establish contact with her the following day. Their concerns compounded when they discovered that she had left behind her phone, purse, keys, and pet dog at her apartment.

The concern escalated into a palpable anger among Pantoja’s loved ones as a week went by without any substantial progress in the search. This culminated in a protest, participated by nearly a hundred people, outside the Midland Police Department headquarters demanding a more urgent investigation.

Suspicion had been circling around Pantoja’s ex-boyfriend, who was in possession of her apartment keys following their recent breakup.

However, he had not been publicly identified as a person of interest in the investigation. It’s noteworthy that some of Pantoja’s neighbors reported hearing a dispute within her apartment on the night of her disappearance.

While police have yet to confirm if Chacon was indeed Pantoja’s ex-boyfriend, Midland Mayor Lori Blong assured the public on Friday that law enforcement agencies are rigorously gathering information and evidence for the missing person’s case.

Chief of Police Seth Herman expanded on these efforts, detailing an extensive search operation that spanned 60 square miles of remote property with ground personnel, drones, and aircraft. Additionally, over a dozen search warrants were executed, 25 people were interviewed, and 20 tips were being investigated in the period leading up to the grim discovery of Pantoja’s remains.