Overview of Cecilia Huerta Gallegos
A husband reports a domestic assault in progress, but when the authorities arrive, there is no sign of the woman who perpetrated the alleged cutting. Upon further investigation, after obtaining surveillance footage from the home, police discover that the woman can not be seen leaving the residence, or even the master bedroom after entering at 7:53 pm on July 7, 2019. What happened to Cecilia Huerta Gallegos?
Cecilia Urena Huerta Gallegos, born November 17, 1988, was the fifth of seven children; her parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Houston, Texas, where she and her siblings were born and raised. Cecilia’s siblings recall that as a child, Cecilia often nursed injured animals back to health. “She cared for every animal, even if it was a rat,” Margie Lopez recalled. “She wanted to save every animal.” This compassion followed her into adulthood. Cecilia was known as a doting mother and a compassionate nursing assistant who cared greatly for the elderly residents in her care. Her sisters describe her as a great human being with a beautiful personality, "Sweet, feisty, loud. She was known," said Cecilia’s sister, Margie Lopez. Cecilia was considered an exemplary worker by her colleagues, supervisors, and patients alike, and she inspired those around her. Cecilia always went above and beyond what was required of her, and she is deeply missed by all.
Cecilia lived with her family in Houston, Texas until 2012. She became a mother at a young age, having two children with a man named George Spezzia who was 3 years her junior. Cecilia lived with the children at her grandmother’s house until 2012 when she moved to San Antonio, Texas. Around this time, George Spezzia, the father of Cecilia’s eldest children, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for “Burglary of Habitation”. “She decided to leave to start a new life,” said her sister, Mireya Lopez.
Shortly after moving to San Antonio with her two children, Cecilia began working as a cashier at a gas station. It is at this gas station where Cecilia would meet her husband and the man charged with her murder, Reyes Huerta Gallegos. According to Bexar County court records, their marriage license was issued on February 26 and executed on March 1, 2013. About a year after they wed, Cecilia and Reyes Huerta Gallegos signed the deed to their new home on March 6, 2014. This home, located at 5622 Southwick Street in San Antonio, is the last place Cecilia was seen.
The couple welcomed two more children into the family, and Cecilia stopped working at the gas station to stay home with the four children shortly after they were married. Cecilia began studying for a professional certification in the healthcare field during this time, and she became a certified nursing assistant in December of 2016. She then started working at St. Francis Nursing Home in July of 2017 as a full-time aid. Cecilia was a cherished employee who was described as “very reliable”, and her patients loved her. She worked her full 40 hours on weekends, staying home during the week.
Unfortunately, while Cecilia’s occupational dreams were coming true, her husband’s behavior became increasingly more possessive. Friends said that Cecilia had a curfew, and that her husband checked on her regularly at work and at school when she was taking classes. According to Police and Bexar County court records, Reyes Huerta Gallegos assaulted one of Cecilia’s coworkers at the nursing home on June 22, 2019; he punched the male coworker in the face after showing up at the facility during Cecilia’s shift. The trial was waived on January 13, 2020 when the witness failed to appear in court. Investigators say Cecilia tried to end the relationship with her husband that day, to which he responded by pulling a gun, according to an affidavit. Cecilia was worried for her safety. Reyes didn’t allow anyone to visit the home, even putting a lock on the gate to keep people out, according to neighbors. Cecilia’s sister said that Cecilia had put up money for a house and an alarm system for her and the children’s safety. Sadly, Cecilia would disappear before this plan could be carried out.
Cecilia was seen for the last time on July 7, 2019. Her long shift at the nursing home was scheduled to end at 11:00 pm, however she would end up leaving around 7:20 pm after an unexpected visit from Reyes Huerta Gallegos during her shift. Reyes approached Cecilia around 6:40, and she appeared to be very uncomfortable. During the encounter, captured on the facility’s security camera, Reyes came very close to Cecilia, causing her to back up into the wall. After Reyes left the facility, Cecilia approached the head nurse; asking to leave early, Cecilia explained that she needed to go home to check on her children. According to sister Mireya Lopez, Cecilia also called her younger brother Justin Disla, “She told him that she feared something was going to happen, that she needed to go home and watch her kids.”
Cecilia arrived home from work at 7:39 pm, according to records, entering the master bedroom that she shared with Reyes Huerta Gallegos less than 15 minutes later at 7:53 pm. This is the last time Cecilia was ever seen. According to police, Reyes can be seen in surveillance footage keeping his two biological children and two step-children — who were 6, 7, 12 and 14 — away from the master bedroom. The children, forced to go into their bedrooms, heard an argument take place. One of the children told Mireya Lopez that after being forced into her bedroom, she [the child] heard screaming and that she covered her ears up to block out the noise. The children remained in their rooms for the rest of the night, and Cecilia was never seen again.
At 2:08 am, the home’s interior and exterior surveillance cameras are turned off. When video resumes, at 3:44 am, Reyes Huerta Gallegos is seen going in and out of the master bedroom, moving about the house. During this period, Reyes makes multiple trips from his bedroom to the family’s white Chevy Tahoe, leaving the house four separate times. Three of these trips were relatively short, between 2-11 minutes in length; his fourth trip, however, was over 2 hours long. Reyes Huerta Gallegos was seen leaving the residence in a white Tahoe at 6:27 am. Upon his return, at 8:48 am, Reyes began unloading a chainsaw, 2 shovels, contractor duty trash bags, and cleaning supplies, his shirt appearing wet with sweat. Interior cameras then show Gallegos taking a shower before calling police to report a “cutting in progress”.
When San Antonio police officers arrived at the residence, Cecilia was not there. Police observed that Reyes had visible injuries to his face, a large scratch mark on his chest consistent with fingernails, and a superficial cut on his index finger. Reyes told police that Cecilia cut him with a knife during an argument 30 minutes prior. He claimed the argument involved possible infidelity and that the fight turned physical. Reyes told officers that after the alleged assault, Cecilia dropped the knife, stated that she was leaving the family, and walked out of the door, taking off with an unnamed man who waiting in a car outside. Reyes Huerta Gallegos did not report her missing, and he claimed to be unaware of her whereabouts.
Cecilia’s siblings, all of whom live in Houston, became very concerned when they had not heard from Cecilia for several days after that last ominous phone call with her brother, Justin Disla. It was very unlike Cecilia to cease communication with her family, especially her children. Decisively, after three days of eerie silence from Cecilia, Justin Disla called the San Antonio Police Department, asking them to complete a welfare check on Cecilia; when the officers informed Justin that Cecilia couldn’t be found to complete the welfare check, he filed a missing person’s report. Upon filing this report, San Antonio police informed Cecilia’s siblings of the 911 call made by Reyes Huerta Gallegos on July 8. Her siblings became even more concerned and suspicious after hearing the content of the report; they knew Cecilia would never voluntarily leave her children. She didn’t take a vehicle, clothes, or money, and there has been no activity on her cellphone or credit cards. Police would soon find that Cecilia could not have fulfilled the actions described by Reyes in his initial report.
While the 911 call and the unusual scene at the house were unsettling, Police became even more suspicious after learning of Reyes’ unwelcome and unanticipated visit to Cecilia’s work on July 7. She didn’t report for the start of her shift on July 14 when she was scheduled to return, which was out of character. The nursing home then turned over a copy of the security video to police, showing the threatening encounter. The next day, on July 15, four days after Cecilia was reported missing, the San Antonio Police Department acquired a search warrant for the Gallegos home. The search warrant allowed police to review the home’s video surveillance system which had interior and exterior views of the house.
During the time of the alleged assault, Cecilia cannot be seen. More importantly, officers say that Cecilia is never seen leaving the residence, or even the master bedroom after entering at 7:53 pm on July 7. In an affidavit, San Antonio Police Detective Alicia O’Brien wrote, “The suspect’s formal statement contradicts what is seen on the surveillance footage.” None of the cameras capture any struggle taking place between the two, and Cecilia never walked out of the house. Cecilia’s friend Monique Medina said Cecilia told her that if she ever went missing, “Make sure you look for me,” and her sister, Margie Lopez, recalled her saying, “If anything goes down, call the police.” Child Protective Services took the couple’s children from Reyes Huerta Gallegos and put them in Margie Lopez’s care the week after Cecilia was reported missing. Cecilia’s sister, Margie Lopez, said CPS told her they did not want to leave the children in his care or that of his mother’s due to the suspicious circumstances of the case.
Where the case stands today.
Search & Support San Antonio has organized countless searches for Cecilia; family, friends, and volunteers have searched overgrown culverts, ditches, fields, and parks near her home —but Cecilia’s body has never been found.
Reyes Huerta Gallegos was arrested for his [June 22nd] assault on Cecilia's coworker on August 13, 2019 and was released the next day on a $1,000 bond. However, the case was dismissed and the trial was waived due to a missing witness on January 13, 2020.
Because the video surveillance obtained from the Gallegos residence contradicts the story Reyes gave to police on July 8, Reyes was arrested and charged with making a false report to a peace officer on August 13, 2019 and was released on a $3,500 bond the next day. However, a judge increased the amount from $3,500 to $75,000 on September 4, 2019, and Reyes was taken back into custody the following day. Court records indicate that this case was closed on March 12, 2020.
On August 24, 2021, Reyes Gallegos was arrested without incident during a traffic stop on the city’s West Side. He repeatedly told reporters that he was innocent as he was transported from Public Safety Headquarters to the Magistrate’s Office, where he was formally charged with Cecilia’s murder.
Reyes Huerta Gallegos was indicted by a Bexar County Grand Jury on November 16, 2021. The indictment alleged that on July 7, 2019, Gallegos intentionally and knowingly caused the death of Cecilia Huerta Gallegos by manner and means unknown to the Grand Jury. Records indicate that this case is being prosecuted by the Family Violence Division in the 144th District Court.
On January 12, 2023, a judge reduced Reyes Huerta Gallegos’ bond from $250,000 to $150,000. Fourteen days later, on January 26, 2023, Reyes was released on house-arrest with GPS monitoring. While his current residence is unknown, he does not appear to be living in the house on Southwick Street. The trial is set for March 30, 2023.
The family has not given up hope on finding Cecilia's body, and they plan to do another search before the trial. If you have any information regarding the murder of Cecilia Huerta Gallegos, please contact the San Antonio Police Department at (210) 207-7660 or Search & Support San Antonio at (210) 372-7143. There is a GoFundMe to raise the reward for any information leading to the recovery of Cecilia’s body.