NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A decomposing body found in the basement of a home in Philadelphia has been identified as a missing woman from the Bronx.
Police say 50-year-old Vianela Tavera, a mother of five was shot in the head and a suspect is in custody, CBS Philadelphia reported.
Investigators had been searching for the Soundview mother after she was reported missing July 28.
Surveillance video showed some of the last images of Tavera since she went missing. She was seen returning home from work, pulling up in her SUV in her bus driver uniform.
Her family was in Philadelphia on Monday, meeting with investigators after a possible break in the case. CBS2 spoke with her niece by phone.
“They found a body,” Jonnely Claro said. “Ninety-nine percent sure it’s her.”
On Sunday night, the body of a woman was found in a home in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia. Police have now confirmed that body is Tavera.
“They did find in the basement, on the floor, a female who was deceased. Obviously dead. She was fully dressed however, she was badly decomposed,” said Scott Small, chief inspector with the Philadelphia Police Department.
Tavera left her family last week for planned trip to Philadelphia where her boyfriend, 38-year-old Luis Negron-Martinez, lives.
Two days later, police said her SUV was found in Virginia with Negron-Martinez inside. He was arrested for allegedly stealing her SUV and for having a 9mm gun inside the vehicle.
Tavera’s family members said they don’t know much about Negron-Martinez, but that the couple had been dating for about a year and a half.
Her neighbors are now praying for her children, the youngest just 10 years old.
“Every day she come from work, from the bus company,” said Rodriguez. “I know, very sad.”
She was known in her community as a woman fiercely devoted to her children, working hard to support them.
“That’s a beautiful woman,” neighbor Fernando Rodriguez told CBS2. “She was beautiful woman.”
Negron-Martinez is being held without bond by Fairfax police. Investigators say he has made incriminated statements to police, claiming that he killed her, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
The NYPD officially closed her missing persons case as the investigation continued.
The Medical Examiner’s Office determined Tavera was shot in the head and ruled her death a homicide.
Police are continuing to investigate the murder.