Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Working Poor


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Hmmmm... the young couple was from El Salvador, didn't speak English, worked at low-paying jobs... so, how DID they pay for that house? The search for Daysi is about to go INTERNATIONAL...

FREDERICK, Md. — Police were searching for a motive in the deaths of four young children whose remains were found in the family's townhouse Monday afternoon along with the hanged body of their father. The children's mother was missing and police said Tuesday they were concerned for her well-being.

"We are doing everything we can to try to locate her and of course, first and foremost to verify that she's OK," Frederick police spokesman Lt. Thomas Chase said.

The children — girls ages 9, 4 and 1, and a 3-year-old boy — were found in beds beneath sheets and blankets that were pulled over their heads. The cause of their deaths was not known; autopsies were set for Tuesday in Baltimore.

Their father, Pedro Rodriguez, 28, was found hanging by a yellow nylon rope from a second-floor bannister, Chase said.

The children's mother, Daysi M. Benitez, 25, also lived in the townhouse but she hadn't been seen by neighbors and co-workers at a local restaurant for about a week and a half, Chase said.

Chase said police don't have any suspects in the deaths of the children. When asked if they believe the father killed them, he said that was a theory they were pursuing.

"You've got four dead people, and a guy that hung himself. That leads you to one possibility," he said.

The bodies were discovered after a Hillcrest Elementary School community liaison concerned about the two oldest children's' absence from school for several days called police, authorities said. Officers entered through an unlocked ground-floor window Monday afternoon and found the bodies in different rooms of the three-bedroom home.

"It was not like them to miss school," said Marita Loose, a Frederick County schools spokeswoman.

Jose Lopez, 34, said he had rented a room in the townhouse for about two months a year and a half ago. When he lived with them, the couple seemed happy, he said.

Real-estate records show that Rodriguez and a Deysi M. Benitez bought the home in August 2005 for $195,900. Chase said the different spelling of Benitez's first name in a police press release came from police records.

The family had emigrated from El Salvador to the United States, police said.

Police had been called to the townhouse three or four times in the past six months, neighbor Nathaniel Harris said.

"Everyone in the neighborhood is shocked," Harris said. "This is a nice area."

Another neighbor, Rebecca Reckley, said Rodriguez worked at a Toys R Us distribution center in Frederick and Benitez worked at an Outback Steakhouse. She worked nights and he worked days, she said. However, Kathleen Waugh, a spokeswoman for Toys R Us said they have no record of Rodriguez working for their company.

"He just seemed like an awfully nice man," she said. "He just seemed to really care about his children, so you can't fathom something like this would happen."

Lopez said that when he lived with the family, Rodriguez had a second job at a Uno Chicago Grill restaurant.

Managers at Outback and Pizzeria Uno refused to comment.

Frederick is about 50 miles northwest of Washington.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rodriguez had worked at a Masonite International Corp. residential door manufacturing plant in Frederick, company spokesman Larry Repar said.

Masonite, based in Tampa, Fla., completed a round of layoffs late last year, and was recently informed that its largest customer will reduce their volume purchases by about 50 percent starting later this year, the company said in a March 12 press release.

Repar didn't immediately reply to questions about whether layoffs had been announced at the Frederick plant.

The couple took in a boarder a year and a half ago, renting a room to a man for two months before the birth of their youngest child.

Frederick County Public Schools spokeswoman Marita Loose described the two oldest girls, who attended nearby Hillcrest Elementary School, as sweet, happy children. Loose said she had no knowledge of family turmoil but said the Spanish-speaking parents had been increasingly targeted by the school system for language assistance and help in dealing with government and community agencies as their family grew.

There were other signs of trouble. Frederick police records show that officers were called to the house eight times between March 5, 2006, and Monday. The calls were for a variety of reasons, ranging from noise to parking issues, disorderly conduct and a verbal dispute, most of which were resolved without a police report or arrest. A theft case is still open, according to the records.

A charge of theft less than $100 against Benitez was resolved in May when she agreed to do 24 hours of community service in return for having the charge placed on the inactive docket. Her attorney, Dino Flores, said she had tried to shoplift some children's clothing from a local dept. store.

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