Slain bride’s family copes with loss as search for killer goes on
BY DONNA VICKROY Sun-Times Mediaemail@example.com July 1, 2012 8:08PM
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:11AM
Since his daughter was found stabbed to death in the bathtub of her Burbank apartment in May, Antonio Carrera’s heart has broken a little more with each passing day.
“It is hard. We are very sad,” Carrera said, touching his chest.
Sitting on the front porch of his home in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood with a friend Tuesday afternoon, he paused to reflect on the death of the young woman who by all accounts lived up to the English translation of her name, Estrella, which is “star.”
“I miss everything about her, everything,” he said.
Inside the bungalow, his daughter’s two children played with their cousins under the watchful eye of Estrella’s sister, Jazmin Carrera.
Despite the happy noise of small feet running about, an air of sorrow hung heavy throughout the living room, where posters covered with photos of a smiling Estrella still stood.
Jazmin Carrera said the death of her little sister has left a huge void in the family. They miss her laughter, her attention to detail and, of course, her beautiful smile.
“She was very loving, always in high spirits,” Jazmin said. “She was the fun one of the family.”
The sisters were always close, Jazmin said, but more so since the passing of their mother a few years ago.
“We met here at my dad’s every day,” she said. “We’d go home just to sleep. This was our routine.”
All that changed May 11, when Estrella, 26, and Arnoldo Jimenez, 30, were married in a last-minute ceremony at Chicago’s City Hall.
The couple shared an erratic relationship for three years. Jimenez is the father of Estrella’s 2-year-old son.
The couple exchanged vows, had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and ended the celebration at a nightclub. They were last seen early in the morning on May 12.
The next day, Estrella failed to pick up her children. When Jazmin couldn’t get her sister or Jimenez on the phone, she called police.
Estrella’s stabbed body was found, still clad in the silver, sequined cocktail dress she wore for the nuptials, in the bathtub of her apartment on Rutherford Avenue in Burbank.
Believing that Jimenez — wanted for first-degree murder — had fled the state and likely the country, police contacted the FBI, and a warrant issued for “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution” gave authorities more power to follow tips on his whereabouts, Burbank Police Capt. Joe Ford said.
A manhunt ensued, with police offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the 6-foot, 220-pound Jimenez.
Ford said officials believe Jimenez initially headed for Texas and then to La Campana in the state of Durango, Mexico, where he has family.
“We have people looking for him in the pueblos (small towns) where he may be, as well as watching for him here in the U.S.,” Ford said last week.
“We think he’ll be back,” Ford said. “He’s a U.S. citizen and he has family and children here.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of tips have come in from people who’ve spotted the black 2006 Maserati Jimenez was last seen driving, as well as from people close to the family. Ford said he believes the car is in the Chicago area.
“He’s running scared,” Ford said, indicating he did not believe the Carrera family is in any danger.
“The Carreras are a very sweet family. They hardly knew Jimenez or his family,” Ford said.
Estrella Carrera grew up in Chicago, attending Eberhart Elementary School and Farragut High School. She was a popular teen who enjoyed music, dancing and Harry Potter, her family said.
“She really loved children,” Jazmin said. Her sister cherished her job as a Spanish translator for a physical therapist because all of the patients were small children.
And when it came to her niece and nephew, Jazmin said, “Well, she didn’t know how to say no. She spoiled them.”
Jazmin’s 12-year-old daughter, Jailene, can confirm that.
“She used to make me laugh a lot. She gave us whatever we wanted,” Jailene said. “I loved how she dressed. She’d always ask me if she looked OK.”
Estrella’s 9-year-old daughter, Gennavy, misses her mom’s cooking, particularly her tacos and her Mickey Mouse pancakes.
Gennavy, who is seeing a therapist to help her deal with the trauma, says her mom died just one month after she turned 9.
“She always wanted me to do good in school,” said Gennavy, who is in the custody of her father.
Jazmin has legal guardianship of Estrella’s 2-year-old son with Jimenez, Damian.
Ford said Burbank officials helped her through the process.
The death has been hard for all of them, Jazmin said. But mostly for her father.
“I miss her,” Antonio said. “I miss her being here. I miss her every day. I miss taking care of her.”