Reporting Jason Allen
ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - The family of a murdered mom pleaded for justice Tuesday night in front of Arlington City Hall. It has been more than a week since Evelia Valencia’s own children discovered her strangled on her bed. It took four days for police to rule the death a homicide, but they still will not say if there are any suspects or persons of interest in the case.
About 20 of the family’s friends held yellow and blue balloons during the gathering. Austin Villa, the victim’s father, held a picture of his 29-year-old daughter. In Spanish, he asked what anyone would feel like if they had someone stolen from them this way.
The victim’s brother, Jimmy Villa, said that his father is just looking for answers. “They’re just heartless,” Villa said. “There’s no other word I can describe the person who did this to my sister.”
Meanwhile, the League of United Latin American Citizens used this as an opportunity to aggressively question the way that the Arlington Police Department is handling the case. League representative Lico Reyes wondered why it took four days to even designate the strangling as a homicide.
Reyes contended that the delayed homicide call hurt the investigation, by keeping people who may have seen something in the dark. “You’re blinding them and keeping them from from hearing what happened,” Reyes explained, “when there’s a murder of this type in the neighborhood.
In an emailed statement, police said, “We must consistently support the due process and constitutional rights of individuals in an effort to facilitate unbiased investigations.”
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck defended the job that police have done, saying that he was told there was no evidence of foul play when Valencia was first found. “Once they did the postmortem, they found it was a homicide, and that’s when the investigation started in earnest,” Cluck said.
Valencia did have previous contact with the police in August 2010. She and three other women complained that an officer harassed them, and had even gone as far as forcing her to remove her clothes to prove that she was not carrying drugs. That officer was fired after the incident.
Police have not named that fired officer, and have not called him a suspect in Valencia’s murder.