Working as a tow truck driver was supposed to be only a temporary fix for Mario Jove.
At first, the good money seemed to be a fair trade for the stress and long hours required to do the job. But as time wore on, Jove decided towing the cars of disgruntled people in a high-crime area was not worth the pay, his family members said.
Jove, 34, never got the chance to quit his job. On Sept. 28, he was gunned down in a southwest Houston apartment complex while preparing to tow an illegally parked car.
Three months later, his slaying is unsolved, the Houston Police Department said.
"It's not one of those cases where it's a bad guy shooting a bad guy," Detective Ray Leon said. Jove "was just a hardworking guy trying to take care of his family."
Leon, who used to work patrol in the area where Jove was killed, recognized the shooting victim at Ben Taub General Hospital. Leon said he'd warned Jove to be careful in the past.
Jove, a driver for Spring Branch Towing, was working at the Crown Garden Apartments at 7001 Hillcroft around 5:05 p.m. Sept. 28 when he spotted a gray Ford Mustang that was illegally backed into a parking space, Leon said. Witnesses told investigators they had noticed two men had been drinking in the car.
As was standard procedure, Jove took a digital photograph to document the illegally parked car.
When he turned around to walk back to his tow truck, Leon said, one of the men got out of the car and shot Jove in the back multiple times.
The shooter then got back in the Mustang — described as having paper dealer tags with an expiring month of October, a spoiler, chrome rims and tinted windows — before the pair left the scene, Leon said.
The one piece of evidence police hoped they'd have was the picture Jove took with his camera. Either the memory stick was full or the camera malfunctioned as Jove fell to the ground, Leon said.
Jove was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after the shooting.
His wife of six years, Noemi Marquez, 26, said her husband had worked as a wrecker driver for only about six months and was awaiting some paperwork so he could go back to contract building.
More than 6 feet tall with a large build, Jove's physical presence stood in contrast to the good-natured jokester who often played pranks on family and friends.
Jove, or "Papa Bear" as he was affectionately known, had two children from a previous marriage. Marquez also had two. The couple then had two daughters together. Marquez said they called their family their "own Brady bunch."
Marquez said her husband lived for his children, always present in every aspect of their lives. Marquez said Jove's death has been hard on the family.
She hopes that solving his slaying will be the first step to closure for the family.
"You just feel like you're never going to stop crying," she said, tears in her eyes. "But I look at my kids and I know that I have to."
Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the HPD homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Family Seeks Closure In Slaying of TX Tow Truck Driver
Here's the story from the Houston Chronicle:
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 11:51 AM