In the days before she went missing, 24-year-old Valerie Reyes told her friends and family that she feared for her life. Late on Sunday, January 28, she called her mother from her New Rochelle, NY apartment.
“She was going on about how frightened she was in that apartment,” her mother, Norma Sanchez, told the New York Times. “She was hearing about all these murders of women. ‘I just can’t get it out of my head. I feel like somebody’s going to murder me.’”
On Tuesday, when Reyes, who was known for her work ethic, didn’t show up to her job at Barnes and Noble in Scarsdale, concerned friends and coworkers began texting and calling her. Her cell phone went straight to voicemail. At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday she was captured on surveillance video at a Chase Bank near Radio City Music Hall, giving her mother hope that Reyes, who suffered from anxiety and depression, might have just gone somewhere to be alone.
But on the morning of Tuesday, February 5, highway workers in Greenwich, CT found a suitcase with the body of a woman inside, her hands and feet bound. The next day, the body was positively identified as Valerie Reyes. And on Tuesday, 24-year-0ld Javier DeSilva, Reyes' ex-boyfriend, was arrested and charged with fraudulently using Reyes' credit card; police believe he is also involved in her death. They are expected to release more information in the coming days.
If DeSilva is convicted in the murder of his ex-girlfriend, her death will follow a grim, and all too familiar pattern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 55% of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Sixty-one percent of all Hispanic female homicide victims were killed in connection to partner violence.
In the meantime, those who knew Valerie Reyes remember her creativity, the solace she found in nature, and her love for her family, particularly younger siblings. A funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning at Gabriel's Church in New Rochelle.