MANATEE — A Bradenton woman was coping with the news Thursday that the man who detectives think shot her daughter to death 10 years ago in Oneco has been gunned down himself in Honduras.
Juanita Martinez’s 20-year-old daughter, Rebecca, was shot six times on March 20, 2001, leaving, among many relatives, her then 5-month old daughter, Mya Esabel Martinez, who is now 10.
Deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office believe the man who killed Rebecca Martinez was her former boyfriend, Jose Luis Alvarez, was shot to death this past September during a drug-related transaction, said Dave Bristow, a sheriff’s office spokesman.
The FBI this week confirmed that Alvarez was dead, allowing Manatee detectives to close the case.
“I feel sad there was no justice because I wanted him to sit in jail and think about what he did,” Martinez said of Alvarez. “But now that he’s dead, I hope, for his soul, he asked forgiveness from God for killing my daughter.”
Officials with the sheriff’s office believe Alvarez left the United States shortly after the shooting and made his way back to Honduras.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bristow said. “Apparently, Rebecca went over to his apartment and they got into an argument about child support for their daughter and he killed Rebecca. We had a lot of good evidence that pointed to Alvarez.”
Juanita Martinez cried Thursday when speaking about Rebecca, who would now be 30.
“She was a hard-working girl who started working at age 16,” Martinez said of Rebeca, the only daughter she had to go with six younger boys. “She liked to go out, but she knew when to come home.”
Juanita Martinez has raised her granddaughter.
“Mya is a happy little girl who has grown up with six uncles that she calls her brothers,” Martinez said. “She’s like a little momma to all the little kids she meets.”
Juanita Martinez said she had held out hope over the past 10 years that Alvarez would be brought to justice. But the sheriff’s office could never bring him in.
“It was hard on me,” Martinez said. “I would think, ‘Why is it taking so long? Everyone else gets caught real quick.’
"But I believe that Honduras has laws that make it difficult to extradite. I know the deputies here tried their best to bring him back.”
Several detectives have kept in touch with Martinez throughout the past decade, she said.
“I’ve told people I know that even if they did bring him to justice, it wouldn’t bring back Rebecca,” Martinez said. “I started going to church recently and because of that, I forgive my daughter’s killer,” Martinez said. “If I get mad, I won’t be a person who can help others. I have to forgive. I just hope now he has peace with God because if he doesn’t only God knows where he is going.”