Christopher Clements found guilty of kidnapping, killing Maribel Gonzalez in Tucson

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 10:53 AM MST|Updated: Sep. 30, 2022 at 4:04 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One of Tucson’s most notorious criminal cases came to an end in a Pima County courtroom on Friday, Sept. 30.

A jury found Christopher Clements guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the death of Maribel Gonzales in 2014. He faces life in prison when he is sentenced at a later date.

Clements is already serving 35 years for a Maricopa County burglary case.

The defense said they plan to appeal Friday’s decision. “We feel that there are many strong upheld issues for the court of appeals and quite possibly the Arizona Supreme Court to consider,” Attorney Eric Kessler said.

Clements is also facing several charges for allegedly kidnapping and killing 6-year-old Isabel Celis in 2012. He will face a jury for Isabel’s death starting in February 2023.

Investigators say 6-year-old Isabel Celis (left) vanished from her parents’ Tucson home in...
Investigators say 6-year-old Isabel Celis (left) vanished from her parents’ Tucson home in 2012 while Maribel Gonzales (right) disappeared while walking to a friend’s house two years later.(Arizona's Family)

Maribel was 13 years old when she went missing while walking to a friend’s home on June 3, 2014. Days later, her body was found in a desert area near Trico and West Avra Valley roads in rural Pima County.

State experts testified that a pubic hair found on Maribel returned a partial DNA profile. Clements was the only one of several suspects that could not be ruled out as the source.

Cell phone records placed Clements in the area where Maribel’s body was found on both June 3 and 4.

“This is the only time I saw the device leave the Tucson area, hang out in the desert for a couple hours, go off the network and re-appear around Tucson,” said Sy Ray, the director of LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “If I looked at this with no background knowledge, I would have looked at this as an ‘area of interest.’”

A search of Clements’ electronic devices turned up several disturbing things.

His search history included phrases like “Maribel Victoria,” “Maribel Gonzales,” “murdered children,” “body found in desert” and “trace evidence found on body.”

On a hidden folder on his iPad, authorities found thousands of photos. Some of the photos were of very young girls and were taken at various spots across Tucson. An expert testified some of the girls were wearing little clothing or none.

Melissa Stark was dating Clements when Maribel went missing. She said the two got “huge argument” the night Maribel went missing and he left. Stark said she had accused Clements of being interested in one of her friends.

Stark testified that Clements left their home, which was blocks from where Maribel lived, around 8 p.m. He didn’t return until midnight or 1 a.m. and immediately asked Stark for bleach.

Stark said she showed him where it was, but he said it wasn’t enough. She said he then left in her car and returned about 15 minutes later with a jug of bleach.

Stark said Clements then asked her if she looked into the trunk of her car before leaving the home again in his vehicle.

Stark testified that Clements came back sometime between 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and asked her to wash all the clothing he was wearing, the shower curtain and anywhere he had walked in the house.



KOLD has been covering the case for years. In 2021, we released an award-winning podcast called Disappeared in the Desert.

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