Frederick police conclude father killed 4 children

mother still missing

May 01, 2007|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,[sun reporter]

With no sign of a missing Frederick woman, police yesterday said they have concluded that her husband murdered their four children before hanging himself in the family's townhouse.

Although there was no sign of forced entry at the home, police previously refused to name the children?s 28-year-old father, Pedro Rodriguez, as their killer.

Police have absolved the mother, Deysi Benitez, 25, of any role in the children's deaths.

[ "Since this investigation started, that is what the scene was telling us," said Lt. Thomas Chase, a commander of the criminal investigations division of the Frederick Police Department. ?We had hoped to be able to close the open door created by the absence [of] Deysi Benitez before issuing a conclusion, but we have not been able to find her."

Police have not determined whether Benitez is alive.

"We're considering both possibilities ? that she is deceased or that she has chosen to disappear," Chase said.

Police know of nomotive for the children's killings or the father's apparent suicide, according to Chase.

A preliminary autopsy revealed that Angel, the couple's only son, died of a blow to the head. The injuries indicated that the 3-year-old had been battered, shaken or bludgeoned, according to Chase. Angel?s three sisters ? Elsa, 9, Vanessa, 4, and Carena, 1 ?were suffocated.

The children were found in beds, with blankets covering them from head to toe. Rodriguez was hanging in the foyer of the three-bedroom home, a yellow nylon rope wrapped around his neck and tied to a second-floor banister.

Chase said a final autopsy report is due in a month.

The killing of one's child is usually preceded by a major psychological trauma such as divorce, loss of a job or loss of social status, according to Charles Patrick Ewing, author of the 1997 book Fatal Families.

In the weeks leading up to discovery of the bodies, Rodriguez had been told by his employer, Masonite International Corp., a residential door manufacturing plant in Frederick, that he would lose his job.

The couple also was experiencing marital problems. Rodriguez's brother in Los Angeles told The Washington Post that Benitez had been unfaithful. Benitez's sister reported to the Salvadoran Embassy that Rodriguez had a history of hitting her.

Police were called to the family's home eight times in 2005 and 2006. Once, the couple was having a dispute. In addition, police were also called twice to the couple's apartment when they lived in downtown Frederick. None of the calls resulted in arrests.

A monthlong search for Benitez has generated leads but no concrete evidence.

There have been reported sightings of the missing woman in her native El Salvador, as well as in Honduras, in parts of Maryland and in Missouri. Investigators have concluded that none of the sightings was of Benitez. A woman purchased an airplane ticket from Atlanta to El Salvador, but she turned out to be someone sharing the missing mother's name.

The last time her cellular phone was used for an outgoing call was March 16, Chase said. The last incoming call, which went unanswered, was on March 18. That call originated from the family's townhouse phone. The bodies were found March 26. The couple's joint bank account has also remained inactive since her disappearance, Chase said.

Benitez's family in El Salvador remains hopeful that she is alive, according to Ana Margarita Chavez, the consul general for Salvadoran Embassy in Washington.

"They are OK," said Chavez,who spoke with one of Benitez?s sisters last week. "They want Deysi to appear.They want to know what is going to happen to the house and to the remains of Pedro and Deysi."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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