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A Farewell to 4 Murder Victims

Crime: Friends and relatives try to understand the savage stabbings. One mourner forgives her brother's killer.

July 26, 2002|JOSE CARDENAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Relatives of the four victims stabbed to death in their South Whittier home spoke Thursday about the murders--the unbearable pain, the outpouring of love from the community and even forgiveness.

The three women, holding hands, made their comments during a news conference before the funeral for Miguel Ruiz, 38; his wife, Maritza Trejo, 41; their 8-year-old daughter, Jasmin; and Ruiz's grandmother, Ana Luisa Martinez, 79.

"Personally, my faith and my strength has allowed me to forgive this person who did this," said Olga Ruiz, the sister of Miguel Ruiz. "He's going to have to answer to a higher authority. And that's not us."

Olga Ruiz, Raquel Trejo and Kenelly Zeledon--Maritza Trejo's daughter and sister-in-law, respectively--spoke about the crime, which left a grisly scene in the unincorporated community that disturbed even veteran homicide investigators.

Raquel Trejo and Zeledon recounted arriving at the house of the victims July 13, a Saturday morning, worried because they had not heard from their family for a day. They got over the fence. Raquel Trejo stepped into the house first and said to Zeledon: "Something is wrong here. There's blood everywhere."

On Thursday Zeledon said, "We have no idea how we have been able to deal with this. It's the strength that God has provided us. I close my eyes and I can still picture everything that we saw in that house."

The three spoke about the compassion they have received from the community, which has showered them with "money, hugs and kisses. Something that we will never forget."

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has filed capital murder charges against Alfonso Ignacio Morales, 23, that could make him subject to the death penalty. He was a neighbor and family friend of the victims who visited often as he learned from Miguel Ruiz how to repair computers.

Morales is set to be arraigned today in Norwalk Superior Court.

The funeral was held at the packed ZOE Christian Fellowship of Whittier. In the sanctuary stood four coffins with portraits of the victims next to them. In her picture, Jasmin Ruiz, who prosecutors say was sexually assaulted before being murdered, wore a blue dress, long dark hair and a slight smile.

Speaking of Jasmin, one family member, Felix Alvarado, said: "Maybe she didn't say much, but with her smile she said everything."

Said Olga Ruiz about Miguel Ruiz: "My brother was not only my brother. He was in essence my father too. There were times when I needed a [father figure], and the only person I could turn to when my father was not around was my big brother Mike."

The four were buried at Olive Lawn Memorial Park in La Mirada. Their survivors will continue to search for answers. "It's a little difficult to discuss the whys and hows," Olga Ruiz said. "This is something we need for closure. Until we know why it happened, our family won't be able to rest."

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Donations to the Trejo-Ruiz Family Fund can be sent to Community Resources Center, 10750 Laurel Ave., Whittier, CA 90605. They also can be deposited at any Wells Fargo branch in account No. 3001084486.

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