AUSTIN (KXAN) - The mother of a teenage girl who died under suspicious circumstances after leaving her cousin's home on New Year's Eve is hoping desperately someone knows what happened to her daughter.
"We just want anybody who knows anything to come forward, do the right thing _ please," Mary Ann Herrera told KXAN on Wednesday. "She was only 13 years old, she had her whole life ahead of her. So if anybody knows anything, please come forward. Do the right thing. Don't be scared to say anything."
Herrera said her daughter, 13-year-old Sophia Martinez, was supposed to be spending the night with a friend at her older cousin's house in North Austin.
But about 9 p.m. on Monday, the girls left without telling anyone where they were going.
According to witnesses, an unconscious Sophia turned up late the next morning later when someone driving a black sedan dropped her off at another friend's house in Southeast Austin. Police said she was pronounced dead at Dell Children's Medical Center.
Police said Wednesday afternoon no obvious signs of trauma to the girl's body were found by the Travis County Medical Examiner. The cause of death will not be determined until toxicology results are analyzed, police said.
"The APD Homicide Unit's investigation is quickly progressing and investigators believe they will have a clear understanding of what caused the girl's death within the next few days," a police department news release said.
Herrera said Sophia, whom she called her "Angel" was looking forward to finishing the eighth grade at Garcia Middle School. She had written in a note before the New Year a resolution to get better grades and take better care of her siblings.
In a family Christmas photo taken the week before her death, Sophia is seen beaming into the camera, a big smile on her face.
This isn't the first such loss for the Herrera family. Ten years ago, Herrera said, Sophia's 19-year-old brother was murdered.
Herrera said her daughter was always helpful, and always happy.
"I keep waiting for her to text me," she said through tears. "I miss her smile. I miss her getting on my nerves."
A fund is being set up to cover Sophia's funeral expenses at Bank of America, Account: No. 58603 138 7504 Routing No. 111000025
On Wednesday night, dozens of family and friends held a candlelight vigil for Sophia in front of the home on Lakehurst Street.
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