True friendship is all about helping people in their hour of need. Whether it’s a short-term loan or a shoulder to cry on, few things in life are more special or more important than a best friend.
When one woman received a call from her best friend, she grabbed her pocketbook and rushed out of her Bronx apartment. The former would do anything for the latter, and all the more so when she needed her most. She didn’t think she’d be rewarded for her kindness in such a sinister way.
One of the most tragic parts of this story is that Lisa Marie Velasquez saw more tragedy and trauma in her lifetime than most people do. Back in 2006, when she was just 12 years old, her pregnant mother was murdered in front of her and her siblings. That incident would be enough to ruin anyone’s life, but Velasquez was the resilient type and picked the pieces of her life up and moved on.
Velasquez’s siblings were both younger and older than her, but they all witnessed the brutal murder of their mother. At the time, her on-again, off-again boyfriend beat her mother, strangled her, and stabbed her, all in front of the kids. While he was arrested and convicted for the murder, the Velasquez family was in pieces. Those feelings were about to arise once again.
According to the police, Ciara Martinez had gotten into a bad fight with her boyfriend Daquan Wheeler one night. When Wheeler, a convicted criminal with a seriously checkered past turned violent and threatening, Martinez called her friend for help. Velasquez made her way over to the nearby apartment to try to calm the situation down and assist her friend.
With no concern for herself, Velasquez walked right into a tense and dangerous situation that was unbeknownst to her. However, she didn’t think twice as she loved Martinez and rushed to her side. When she arrived at the apartment things escalated when Velasquez decided to call the police on Wheeler. That was the last decision the 25-year-old would make.
Wheeler saw red when Velasquez called the police. In a fit of rage inside the Bronx apartment, he bludgeoned Velasquez to death, but the worst was yet to come. After Martinez witnessed the murder, she helped her boyfriend to dispose of her friend’s body. But the way the two chose to get rid of the body would send shock-waves through the community.
Velasquez hadn’t deserved to be brutally murdered just for trying to help her friend. Her friend and Wheeler then dismembered her in the bathroom of their apartment and put her body parts in separate black trash bags. The murderous duo then needed to dispose of the evidence which could tie them to the murder.
Wheeler and Martinez decided to scatter their victim’s body parts around two parks in the Bronx, a couple miles apart. They also dumped some of her body parts in different locations around the city. When her head was found, the medical examiner confirmed she had died from skull-crushing blows from a hammer.
Smelled Like Bleach
When a law enforcement officer enters an apartment and smells fresh bleach in the air, it always raises suspicion. When cops arrived at the Bronx apartment to question the couple, they smelled bleach, but that wasn’t all. They also noticed that a fresh coat of paint had been applied to the walls in the bathroom but not in the rest of the apartment.
When police released the identity of the victim, Velasquez’s aunt Jacqueline Perez spoke of her outrage and sadness. “The way she was tortured, for Christ’s sake, she didn’t deserve that,” she said. “Who in their right minds would do something like this? She’s my niece. She didn’t deserve this.”
Velasquez was no stranger to tragedy having watched her pregnant mother murdered in front of her. “In this lifetime, I never thought we would go through this again,” said Perez. “This is the second episode … the type of animal that would do something like this to a human being.”
“My mother is never going to be the same,” Perez said. “She wasn’t the same after her daughter’s murder; now it’s worse.” Perez also spoke about how destroyed the family feels as a result of the murder. “We all feel destroyed because this is devastating. … I can’t even describe what I’m feeling or what the family feels.” She said.
Even though Wheeler was the one who murdered Velasquez, both he and Martinez were charged on numerous counts. The couple was arraigned on charges of murder, manslaughter, concealment of a human corpse, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a weapon. And while Martinez is due in court any day now, she already has priors for bail jumping and robbery.
Perez said the family was overwhelmed when they saw Martinez in court. “The fact that we saw [Martinez] is overwhelming,” she said. “She’s walking; she got her arms and her legs. Where [is] my niece at now? In a bag, in different bags.” But Velasquez’s friends were also at court, and they had some supportive words for the defendant.
During Martinez’s brief appearance at a Bronx court, she was yelled at by a friend of the victim. “Murderer!” shouted Lisa Rivera, a close friend of Velasquez. She also spoke to reporters outside court admitting “I called her a murderer. I called her exactly what she was.” She added that it was “very, very hard” to face Martinez.
As the old saying goes: blood is thicker than water. And even murderers have family and friends who love them unconditionally. It was a stab in the back for Velasquez’s family when a member of the Martinez family shouted, “I love you! We are here for you, Ciara!” in court. But the victim’s aunt had even more to say.
Velasquez’s aunt was outraged that the defendant’s kin showed such a public display of support for a person who dismembered a member of her family. “I don’t know who she was,” Perez said. “I don’t care at this point. … I’m there for my niece too. It’s so funny that she’s not alive, but Ciara is. So this is why I’m so angry.”
Feared for her Life
Velasquez, who was raised by her disabled grandmother after her mother was killed, feared for her life since she was 12. After her mother was killed, her murderer turned to the children to warn them: “If you tell anybody I killed your mother, I’ll kill you.” A harrowing thing for anyone to hear, especially a young child who has just witnessed their mother being killed.
According to Perez, her mother Iris never recovered from the shock of her daughter being killed when she was nine months pregnant. “[Iris] witnessed it. After that, my mother took custody of the kids,” Perez said. “She’s sick. She can’t walk. She never recovered from her daughter being murdered.”
Just before the police found the apartment where Velasquez was murdered they had received a bunch of calls from concerned neighbors. One neighbor named Lizannette told police on the day the victim was murdered that she saw a man and heard a girl “screaming ‘You gonna kill me! You gonna kill me!'”
Velasquez’s close friend, Lisa Rivera spoke at a vigil outside the family’s Melrose apartment building. Through floods of tears, Rivera paid tribute to her slain friend. “She was loving, nurtured, and everybody loved her, and she’s gonna be missed,” she said. And while the perpetrators of this heinous murder are getting what they deserve, it’s little consolation for the victim’s family.