A woman claiming to be the friend of Lisa Velasquez, the woman whose remains were found in plastic bags in two parks, was arrested on Wednesday for Velasquez's murder. Suspect Ciara Martinez yelled, "She was my friend and I love her," while being taken into a Bronx police station house on Wednesday night.
A parks worker found bags with human remains in Crotona Park on August 24th, and the police were able to develop a sketch of the deceased. On Tuesday, a child spotted a bag with a foot sticking out in Barreto Point Park. The medical examiner's officer confirmed earlier on Wednesday that all of the remains likely belonged to Velasquez, 25, who had been reported missing last week. An examination of the remains revealed skull fractures resulting from blunt force trauma to the head, and the death was characterized a homicide.
Martinez, 30, and her boyfriend, Daquan Wheeler, 31, were both charged with murder, manslaughter, concealment of a human corpse, tampering with physical evidence, and criminal possession of a weapon.
Apparently, Valesquez had rushed out of her home in the Melrose Houses on August 21st to see Martinez. Her aunt Jacqueline Perez told the Daily News, "She came to my mother’s house. She grabbed her bag. She left in a rush. She said she had to help a friend who was in danger. And then she ran out."
Perez added, "Ciara Martinez was her best friend. I was calling and calling [Martinez]. I wanted to know if she knew anything. But she never picked up. I never got through. I don’t know who that guy is. It must have been Ciara who called her when she ran out."
Police sources told the NY Post that Valasquez had rushed to Martinez's home because her friend was "having a rough time" with Wheeler. According to the Post's sources, Valasquez had urged Martinez to leave Wheeler and called 911 to report domestic violence. Wheeler was not at the home when officers responded to the complaint, but he allegedly attacked Velasquez when he returned, "whacking her in the head with a hammer and then bringing her to the bathroom where he dismembered her—all while his girlfriend was present inside the apartment," police sources told the tabloid.
Both Martinez and Wheeler have previously served time in prison:
Just got these pictures of the couple accused of murdering and dismembering their “friend” in The Bronx. Cierra Martinez served time for robbery and her bf Daquan Wheeler served time for attempted murder. #abc7ny https://t.co/9xeZGNiiPQ pic.twitter.com/U0oAvkr7v1
— Derick Waller (@wallerABC7) August 30, 2018
Velasquez's mother was murdered in front of her in 2006: Marilyn Ginel, 37, was nine months pregnant when her companion and his wife "beat, stabbed and strangled" her. Only 12 at the time, Velasquez had described the violence to the NY Times, recalling, "My stepfather and Maria, they did it together... They tried to choke my mom with a pillow on top of her face."
"In this lifetime I never thought we would go through something like that again," Perez said. She also lamented, "The way she was tortured, for Christ's sake, she didn't deserve that. Who in their right minds would do something like this?"