The person wielding the murder weapon was the boyfriend of the woman Velasquez had come to help, police say. It’s a sad situation that’s simply the latest tragedy to befall the murder victim. She’d been a witness to her mother’s murder 12 years ago, and now her family is calling on a judge to treat both people accused in her death as equally responsible for it.
"Our family is not well, we're not doing well," said Jacqueline Perez, Velasquez's aunt, outside of criminal court Thursday evening.
She and other family members had shown up at the courthouse to see in person the man and woman charged in Velasquez's murder. Daquan Wheeler, 31, and Ciara Martinez, 30, were charged with murder, manslaughter concealing of a corpse and other felonies in an apparent case of help that turned into homicide.
At a news conference on Thursday, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that Velasquez had called 911 from the home on Longfellow Avenue that Martinez and Wheeler shared. Velasquez had shown up there on August 22 in response to a call for help she'd received from Martinez.
“[Velasquez] called  reporting what she was claiming to be a kidnapping," Shea said. "And the kidnapping turned out to be the father of the child removing the child from the apartment."
Wheeler was that father, Shea said, adding that in anger, Wheeler fatally bludgeoned Velasquez with a hammer. Then, he and Martinez cut up Velasquez's body, and left her remains in plastic bags in two different parks.
Wheeler has done time in prison for a 2008 attempted murder conviction, and an attempted burglary conviction three years ago, from which he was on parole when he killed Velasquez, according to investigators. Martinez served three years in the past for robbery.
Her best friend's life is all the more tragic.
In late March 2006, Velasquez's mother, Marilyn Ginel, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend when she was days away from giving birth to his child. Velasquez, who was 12 at the time, and her siblings witnessed that murder.
Now, she is a murder victim herself, and her family once again grieves.
"In our lifetimes, we never thought we would have to go through something like that again," said Perez, the victim's aunt. She added that the family is now planning a funeral for her niece.
"This is sadder than burying her mother," Perez said.