NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many brought candles, and many shed tears, for the life of 25-year-old Lisa Marie Velasquez outside her home in the Melrose Houses in the Bronx Thursday night.
It was her heartfelt care for a friend that seems to have brought her life to a chilling end, reports CBS2’s Valerie Castro.
Suspect Ciara Martinez told reporters Velasquez was her friend.
“She was my friend. I loved her,” she said.
Martinez, 30, and her boyfriend, 31-year-old Daquan Wheeler, were arrested Wednesday. They were charged with murdering Velasquez and hiding her remains.
“The way she was tortured – for Christ sakes,” said Velasquez’s aunt, Jacqueline Perez. “I’m glad they’re in custody, but that still does not ease the pain. It’s still not going to fix anything. She’s still dead and she’s still in pieces.”
Velasquez, 25, died from multiple blunt force impact injuries to her head. Police sources told CBS2 a hammer was used to fracture her skull.
“The last thing my mother remembers is her coming, grabbing her bag and being in a rush, saying that she had to go help a friend that was in danger, and she ran out of the house,” Perez said.
According to police sources, Martinez called Velasquez, claiming her boyfriend was attacking her inside their Longfellow Avenue apartment. The women called police from inside the apartment, filing a harassment complaint against Wheeler.
Sources said Wheeler left the apartment, then came back, and again argued with his girlfriend. At some point, they said, he turned his aggression toward Velasquez, allegedly striking her twice with the hammer.
Police traced Martinez’s call to Velasquez, knowing she was the last person to speak with the victim. Officers showed up at the home Wednesday and noticed a strong smell of bleach and cleaning products, and found evidence inside the home, sources said. Police don’t believe Martinez helped kill Velasquez, but they do believe she helped hide her body.
Velasquez’s grisly killing devastated her family.
“She didn’t deserve to die the way she did,” Perez said.
For the family, the tragedy is all-too familiar. In 2006, Velasquez’s mother, Marilyn Ginel, was found murdered inside the Bronxdale Houses. She’d been stabbed, and was pregnant at the time.
Her boyfriend was later found guilty. Family members say Ginel was nine months pregnant when she was tortured in front of her three kids, one of whom was Velasquez.
Court records show Wheeler was convicted of attempted murder in 2008 after stabbing a man with a sword.
“I think they should have monitored him a little better,” said Jacqueline Perez. “I don’t feel they did their job properly, The system failed her.”
The family says funeral services will be held sometime next week after Labor Day.
The suspects will be back in court on Sept. 4.