Things That Matter

A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

There is terrible news out of the Turks and Caicos Islands where authorities say three Texas tourists, including a married couple, drowned during a recent vacation. According to People Magazine, the couple, Irma Barrera, 33, and her husband, Roy Perez, 38, were vacationing with their 15-year-old daughter and the third victim and his daughter when they drowned after getting caught in a quick-moving tide this past Monday. 

The group was reportedly exploring Bambarra Beach, a popular and scenic tourist area when the group of five got caught in a tidal wave that fueled by strong winds. The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said the incident happened around 1 p.m. near the beach which is located on the sparsely populated island of Middle Caicos.

Barrera’s body would be found washed ashore shortly after the incident and after searchers scoured the beaches, they recovered Perez’s a few hours later. The third body, identified as Dr. Richard Okoloise, was discovered early on Tuesday morning with assistance from the US Coast Guard.

The terrible incident has now left two families torn apart and two children devastated by the loss of a parent.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The victims belonged to two families who hailed from Texas. Their families say the group was vacationing together along with their two girls. Residents in the area say that the families may have been attempting to swim a short distance through the shallow waters from Bambarra Beach to Pelican Cay, which is nearby to the beach when they were swept away in the fast-moving tide.

Rescuers were able to rescue both of the young girls from the water and save them from drowning. Both were being cared for shortly after by local social welfare services. Family members back home are working to get the children back to the home to the United States. According to KTRK-TV, family members of Barrera’s and Perez’s were traveling to the Caribbean archipelago on Wednesday to bring the couple’s daughter home and seek more answers on how this incident could have ever happened. 

“This was a tragic loss of life and obviously all of us are asking every question we can about what went wrong,” Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said in a public statement. “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone, most especially the children involved.

“We live in a world filled with many bad things, but we still have good Samaritans,” Botting added. “I would like to thank those who came to the aide of the children and everyone who were a part of the search and rescue, this includes volunteers, our Emergency Response Teams and the U.S. Coastguard Helicopter crew.”

We are now learning more about the couple and father who tragically drowned. 

Credit: @abcnews / Twitter

Families and friends are now mourning the horrible incident and remembering those who have been lost. According to her Facebook profile, Barrera worked as a nurse at Angleton Emergency Room while her husband is being called a “family man” by various friends on Facebook. 

“My classmate, friend, brother this is how I’ll remember you. Every picture with your family always brought a smile. A class clown to say the least! I remember about a year ago you messaged me saying that you were proud of me. Yet today I want to say how proud I am of you. Your daughters adore you man! Your daughters will forever be in my prayers. May You & your Wife Rest In Peace.” a friend wrote on his Facebook profile.

Okoloise, an emergency medicine physician in Angleton, Texas, is being also hailed a great person who had an undeniable love for his young daughter. He was said to have always wanted to travel to Turks and Caicos if he ever got rich. 

“He loved medicine, traveling, and his family,” Annamarie Kilgore, a friend and colleague of Okoloise wrote on Facebook. “I will miss his ridiculous talks. However, I’m thankful he was called while being in his favorite place in the world. He always told me ‘if I ever disappear after a lottery win, I’ll be hiding in Turks and Caicos.'”

The deadly incident has prompted calls from local residents for authorities to put up warning signs on the islands which are often-deserted beaches. It’s yet to be determined if any action will be taken to further stop any future incident similar to this. 

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral arrangements.

READ: Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

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El Paso Man Charged With Murdering His Date Whose Body Is Still Missing

El Paso Police Department

The family of a woman who had been declared missing since July has finally found tragic answers after El Paso police charged Ricardo Marquez, 28, with her murder. Erika Andrea Gaytan, 29, was reported missing by her family on July 16, who felt it was out-of-character for Gaytan to disappear and leave her 7-year-old son behind. Gaytan reportedly was last heard from after going to a concert at the El Paso County Coliseum on July 13 with Ricardo Marquez. Gaytan recorded the concert, featuring Los Rieleros del Norte, Polo Urias and La Maquinaria Norteña, from her social media last night, marking the last time anyone heard from her. Detectives say that the day after Gaytan’s disappearance, Marquez borrowed his brother’s car and his sister’s shovel. Gaytan’s blood was found in Marquez’s Jeep. In a statement released Wednesday, Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said that Gaytan’s “body has not been found, but based on forensic and other evidence gathered over the course of the investigation detectives have reason to believe that she is deceased and was the victim of a murder.”

Police believe Marquez used zip-ties to restrain Gaytan in his home, where he murdered her.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

Marquez was brought in for questioning following Gaytan’s disappearance, where he told detectives that she came home with him, but used a ride-hailing app to leave after they got into a verbal argument. Detectives found no evidence that Gaytan used her ride-hailing apps, discrediting Marquez’s statement. According to a court affidavit, Marquez continued to give conflicting statements about his experience with Gaytan, and his whereabouts the following day, when speaking with law enforcement and family and friends alike. 

Marquez allegedly spent the next day covering up his crime.

CREDIT: @JALAKFOX_CBS / TWITTER

Investigators then looked into Marquez’s phone records, which showed that he had texted his brother and sister the next morning. He asked his brother if he could borrow his all-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler, and picked up a shovel from his sister. Surveillance video evidence creates a timeline for Marquez’s alleged cover-up. He borrowed a shovel from his sister around 11:25 a.m. the following morning, and then went to his brother’s house to pick up the Jeep. He spent about an hour with his brother before being spotted on the 13900 block of Montana in east El Paso, driving toward the Redlands desert area. An hour later, the Jeep was spotted again, driving back to his brother’s house around 1:39 p.m., according to the affidavit that was issued for his arrest. With a search warrant in hand, a Department of Public Safety DNA lab-tested Marquez’s brother’s Jeep trunk floor mat, which came back positive for traces of Gaytan’s blood. Police believe Marquez transported Gaytan’s body in the trunk of his brother’s car, and buried her in an unknown area in the desert.

Court documents cite that a search of Marquez’s home produced the shovel he borrowed from his sister, a pair of shoes filled with sand, and zip-ties “tied in a manner to be used as restraints.” Detectives have concluded that “Ricardo Marquez murdered the victim in his residence, used the Jeep to transport the body of the victim to an unknown location only accessible by off-road vehicles, and that he used the shovel to bury the body.”

The El Paso community is shocked to hear of Gaytan’s murder.

CREDIT: EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT / FACEBOOK

“Too many tragedies as of late,” commented Melissa Arredondo on the El Paso Police Department’s Facebook announcement of the arrest. “Dang… And the report says he buried her near Redlands. That place is so cursed. My friend’s dad just died there. It will never be the same,” commented another member of the community. Others remain hopeful in demanding that the police find Gaytan’s body before assuming her death. “Too many questions remain,” commented another concerned El Paso citizen.

Gaytan was facing a court hearing for criminal mischief when she disappeared, but her family couldn’t believe that she would leave her son behind without warning. Gaytan once appeared on El Paso’s Most Wanted List in 2017 before she was charged 66 charges of credit abuse in a criminal mischief case.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and detectives are relying on the public for more information. If you have information on the case or Ricardo Marquez, call (915) 212-4040 or Crime Stoppers of El Paso at (915) 566-8477.

READ: California Man Arrested With Drugs And Guns While Keeping A Person Hostage And Suspected Of Murder

An Author Is Opening The Discussion On The Violent History In The U.S. Against Mexicans In Texas

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An Author Is Opening The Discussion On The Violent History In The U.S. Against Mexicans In Texas

@MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

The history of Latinos in the U.S. dates back to before it was called the United States. Latinos have always inhabited many parts of what is now the United States of America. However, the recorded history of what happened to them while on this land is one that has often gone disputed and untold. However, in time, it is through oral history and fragments of documents and photographs that scholars have been able to complete the puzzle. Today’s experience of Latinos living in the current administration is just another addition to the story. 

Monica Muñoz Martinez, an assistant professor of American studies at Brown University, released a book last year titled “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” and discussed the many ways the history of Latinos in the U.S. is complex and vital to remember. 

Credit: @nbcnews / Twitter

Martinez talked about her book in a recent interview on the public radio station WBUR. The program, which featured Muñoz Martinez, began by mentioning the increase in hate crimes against Latinos and how these crimes aren’t anything new, but something this community has been experiencing for a very long time. 

“One hundred years ago, anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican rhetoric fueled an era of racial violence by law enforcement and by vigilantes. But it’s also important to remember that this kind of sentiment, this rhetoric, also shapes policy,” Muñoz Martinez said on WBUR. “So 100 years ago, it shaped anti-immigrant policy like the 1924 Immigration Act. It also shaped policies like Jim Crow-style laws to segregate communities … and targeting Mexican Americans especially. There [were] efforts to keep American citizens, Mexican Americans, from voting. But there were also forced sterilization laws that were introduced, and U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924. Our policing practices, our institutions today have deep roots in this period of racial violence.” 

Muñoz Martinez, who received a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, also spoke about the Porvenir massacre — an attack against Mexican-Americans that isn’t widely known but was recently made into a film

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

She called the attack of innocent people a “case of state-sanctioned violence that is really profound and reminding us [not only] of the kinds of injustices that people experienced, but also the injustices that continue to remain in communities and were carried by descendants who fought the injustice and have been working for generations to remember this history.”

Muñoz Martinez notes that it’s important to continue to talk openly about the atrocities against Latinos in the U.S. in order to understand the big picture of racism in the country, but also to realize how these experiences shape the community as well. 

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

“Well, it’s difficult to teach these histories on their own. But it’s also deeply disturbing because students make connections.” Muñoz Martinez said on the radio show. “It prompts conversations about police violence today, police shootings on the border by Border Patrol agents. One of the cases that I write about in my book is the shooting of Concepcion García, who was a 9-year-old girl who was studying in Texas and became ill and crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico with her mother and her aunt to recover her. She was shot by a U.S. border agent.

“So when we teach these histories, it’s important to know that these kinds of injustices have lasting consequences, not only in shaping our institutions but shaping cultures and societies,” she added. “When we think about the impact of some of the cases from 100 years ago continuing to weigh heavy on people a century later, it’s a warning to us that we must heed. And we will have to work actively as a public. If we don’t call for public accountability, these patterns of violence are going to continue, and we will be working for a long time to remedy the kinds of violence that we’re seeing.”

For more information about Muñoz Martinez’s work, you don’t need to be a student at Brown University. All you need is a library card. 

Credit: @MonicaMnzMtz / Twitter

Her book “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas” is available everywhere. You can buy it as well. You can also click here to listen to her entire interview on WBUR or follow her work at Refusing to Forget on Twitter, and her personal social media account as well

READ: A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead