Thursday, December 22, 2011

La Puente, CA: After tragic murder-suicide, La Puente family reconnects with the holidays

LA PUENTE - The holidays have never been as sorrowful as they have been this year for the family of a woman fatally shot during a double murder-suicide here last month.

The Chavez family has lived in disbelief and anguish since matriarch Rosa Chavez, 55, and her boyfriend Luis Frausto, 66, were killed by her ex-boyfriend Francisco Sanchez, 52, who also killed himself the day before Thanksgiving.

"It's not easy. It's hard," said Rosa Chavez's son, Hernan Chavez, 32. "We haven't really been thinking about the holidays. It's been so hard and we've just kind of been distracted by the tragedy. You don't really think about what time of the year it is."

But on Wednesday afternoon, Rosa Chavez's surviving children, Hernan and Xochilt Elizabeth, and the three young grandchildren she cared for received an unexpected Christmas surprise.

La Puente city officials and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in partnership with Chino-based nonprofit Isaia's Rock Organization, donated dozens of toys, turkeys, blankets and bedroom accessories to the family.

"First it was a shock and then it was reality and then came the sadness and then the joy," Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. "The joy came after they saw these kids looking at these toys ... because as soon as they saw it they started going crazy. (Hernan and Xochilt Elizabeth) were teary eyed ... and they were so grateful."

According to deputies, neighbors on Nov. 23 reported seeing the ex-boyfriend at the house in the 700 block of Sierra Vista Court and shots were fired. The killer committed suicide with a large caliber rifle.
Rosa Chavez was the care-taker of the children, ranging in ages 3 to 6, and at least one of them witnessed the killing, Hernan Chavez said.

The Sheriff's Department has been providing psychological counseling to the family.

"It was an (unpredictable) act of domestic terrorism with a woman whose raised these kids as a single parent," Cacheiro said. "When you talk to the neighbors, she was always there for everybody else. And with the costs of the burial and everything, they had nothing to give these kids."

And despite the memories of the deadly event that still linger, Hernan Chavez said seeing the smile on the children's faces compels him to move on.

"It makes me feel good knowing that the community is caring," he said. "We haven't really had the motivation as far as shopping with everything going on. But we realized at the end, we're doing this for the kids ... and we need to be strong and move on. It's really hard, but it puts us in focus to move in life."

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