Marfa resident Sonya Murillo arrested on sexual exploitation of children charge

MARFA — Marfa resident Sonya Murillo was arrested by U.S. Marshals last week following the filing of a federal criminal complaint alleging Murillo committed sexual exploitation of children.   

As of press time, Murillo, 32, was being held at a facility in Sierra Blanca and awaiting a preliminary detention hearing this Friday in the U.S. District Courthouse in Alpine. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed a motion to detain Murillo without bond, arguing she is both a flight risk and danger to the community. 

The complaint states that while “conducting a forensic review of a cell phone from a different child pornography investigation in Marfa,” investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety uncovered video evidence of Murillo performing sexual acts on a young child.

Investigators discovered at least eight videos saved from Snapchat, in which an adult woman’s face, who investigators identified as Murillo, “is in full and plain view,” as is an identifiable tattoo. The special agent investigating the matter believes the production of the video occurred in Marfa, according to the complaint. 

Murillo’s attorney, Bart Medley, declined to comment on her arrest, citing the fact that it was an ongoing case. 

An arrest report provided by the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office identifies Murillo as a property manager and substitute teacher. Marfa ISD Interim Superintendent Arturo Alferez confirmed that Murillo is one of the on-call substitute teachers with the district, but declined to comment further.

Murillo was previously in a romantic relationship with Patricio Javier “PJ” Serrano, who was arrested several weeks ago on child pornography charges. As of press time, it remained unclear whether the cases were related. Investigating agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety, did not return requests for comment on the matter by press time.

Serrano was indicted last week, with the court ordering the forfeiture of a number of Serrano’s personal electronics and belongings including tablets, a Samsung Galaxy 5G smartphone, documents, pornographic DVDs, a digital camera, and more. 

Serrano’s attorney, Shane O’Neal, declined to comment on Murillo’s arrest. Serrano will be arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge David Fannin next Thursday at the United States District Courthouse in Pecos.