For some, pain never heals for families of violent crime victims

It’s been nearly four years since a drunk driver collided with a car driven by the son of Mission resident, Lucretia Davila, killing four members of her family near Los Fresnos and a passenger of the drunk driver.

 

And though Margaret Gil was eventually sentenced to 50 years in prison for the offense, the pain remains for Davila and her daughter, Norma Alvarez, whose daughter, Julexy, 12, was among the members of Davila’s family killed that day. Also killed were Davila’s daughter, Erika Gomez, 30, and Erika’s husband, Edward Gomez, 32, and their daughter, Kamilla, 3. The incident occurred as the family was driving from Mission for a day at the beach at South Padre Island, Alvarez said.

20170403 CrimeVictimsMarch

Family members of Jolissa Rangel, whose Oct. 25, 2013 murder at an Edinburg apartment complex remains unsolved, were among about 100 persons who participated in a walk for victim’s rights Monday afternoon in Mission. Jolissa’s mother, Martha L. Rangel, center, said the family honored Jolissa by wearing her favorite color, orange. In front in the aviator sunglasses is Jolissa’s niece, Dezirae Avila, 10, and to her left is Jolissa’s half-brother, Tony Rangel, 8, and to his right is Jolissa’s half-sister, Nikki Rangel, 6. Progress Times photo by Joe Hinton

“It completely changed my life,” said Alvarez, as she walked alongside her mother and other relatives Monday during the walk for victims’ rights in Mission commemorating National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which runs April 2-8.

 

Alvarez and her mother were among about 100 persons who participated in the walk which was followed by a vigil in front of the Mission Police Department.

 

Also in the march were family members of Jolissa S. Rangel. She was a 20-year-old Edinburg resident when on Oct. 25, 2013, three men attempted to force their way into the single mother’s apartment. When she stood against the inside of the front door a man outside fired through it striking Jolissa in the heart, killing her. Nearly three-and-a-half years later the crime remains unsolved and police are still not sure why Jolissa was targeted, said Martha L. Rangel, 49, of Edinburg. Jolissa was the fourth of Rangel’s five children, she said.

 

“People say it was drugs or gangs or mistaken identity. But we won’t know until they catch those cowards,” Rangel said.

 

Rangel, who has worked 21 years for the Hidalgo County Women and Infant Children nutritional program, doesn’t believe her daughter was involved in gangs or drugs. At the time of her death, four days prior to her 21st birthday, Jolissa worked in the behavioral health section of Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg and was about to begin classes at South Texas College to become a registered nurse, said Rangel.

 

“Jolissa was very caring, especially with children. And that’s why she was becoming an RN, to help people in need,” Rangel said.

 

Rangel’s oldest daughter, Melissa Espinoza, 34, who works at Renaissance in the maternal fetal care unit as a doctor’s assistant, believes her sister was the target of random violence.

 

“There’s been a lot of theories as to, they think it’s drug related, gang related, she owed money, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time; but in my heart I know these cowards they already knew what they were going to do,” Espinoza said. “They were out there just to go out and kill somebody. They made a choice.”

 

Whatever the reason her daughter was murdered, Rangel said she will never be the same.

 

“I have a roller coaster of emotions. I’ve been hospitalized twice with emotional issues,” Rangel said Monday as she helped man a tent sponsored by the Rio Grande Valley Families and Friends of Murdered Children, Inc., a non-profit support group. Harlingen resident, Robert M. Garcia, started the non-profit a year after his brother, Roger, was murdered. The group was formed under the auspices of the National Organization of the Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., Garcia said.

 

Rangel and her daughter became members of the group for the support they give and receive among other crime victims. Espinoza is now a Homicide Survivor Advocate Specialist with the organization.

 

“This night is helping to raise awareness of our group because there are so many families out there that didn’t know there was this support,” Espinoza said. “And unfortunately it’s getting bigger because there are more than 250 cold cases in Hidalgo County.”

 

“That figure sounds very possible if you consider all the municipalities that we don’t track,” said Sgt. Jose P. Rodriguez, public information officer for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Rodriguez said sheriff’s investigators currently have 103 open homicides dating back to 1994.

 

Calls Tuesday to Mission and McAllen police departments requesting the number of their open homicide cases went unanswered as of press time Thursday. But Edinburg Assistant Police Chief Oscar Treviño, who was the original lead investigator on Jolissa’s murder, said his department has just four open cases, including Jolissa’s, dating back through his 30 years with the department. As for Jolissa’s case, he said it remains an “active investigation.”

 

“There has been a lot of information obtained over these past three years. Unfortunately I am not able to comment on it as it is an active investigation,” Treviño said Tuesday.

 

“And we are asking for help from the public. If anyone has any information we ask them to contact our Crime Stoppers (956-383-8477) or the police department directly.

 

As for Espinoza, she and her family hope Edinburg police can eventually solve her sister’s murder and hope someone will provide information to police.

 

“Because I don’t want another family to have to go through what we’ve been going through,” she said.

 

The website for the Rio Grande Valley Families and Friends of Murdered Children is located at www.rgvffomc.com.  

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