Luz Marina López, a Coxen Hole shopkeeper, and her husband Jonathan Nuñez, a bus/taxi driver, beat their heads against the bureaucracy for three and a half years seeking justice for their son, who was shot and killed in September 2009. Their persistence may have finally begun to payoff with the April arrest of a suspect in the killing – the brother of a Roatan prosecutor.
Court documents show Walter Alfonso Vallecillo Rosales was charged April 7 for the robbery and murder of Esly Nahún Nuñez. Nuñez’s parents and another source said Vallecillo was the brother of Zayda Vallecillo Rosales, a Public Ministry prosecutor assigned to Roatan.
The Voice could not review the contents of the arrest file, because judges on Roatan recently ordered courthouse staff to stop allowing public access to criminal case files.
López and Nuñez said that following an April 12 hearing on Roatan, Vallecillo was put in detention in La Ceiba to await trial. They expect more arrests to follow.
According to the parents, Esly Nuñez, known to friends as “Toby,” left home about 9 p.m. Friday, September 12, 2009, to go out with a group of friends. It was the last night of the Roatan International Fishing Tournament, with its carnival in West End.
His companions that night said they went first to Jerry Hynds Stadium in Los Fuertes, then to French Harbour to pick up friends, then to West End. A female companion said they were dancing at the Rocket Burger in West End later that night when someone got angry with Esly and threatened to kill him (“Te voy a matar.”).
Early the next morning, López, who had traveled to La Ceiba the day before to buy merchandise for her shop, received a phone call from an employee informing her that a woman had come to the shop to report that one of her sons had been found dead near the Methodist church in Mango Bight, near Flowers Bay. López, who had four sons, screamed, “Quien?! Quien?! Quien?!” (Who?). She was told it was the one who drove a red Kia, her youngest son, Esly.
López immediately phoned her husband, who said he arrived at the scene of the crime about 8 a.m. to find Esly’s body still lying on the ground, his car nearby with the motor still running and music blaring from the stereo. Detectives were at the scene collecting evidence.
Esly had been shot twice in the head at close range. There were signs of struggle. His cell phone, jewelry, cash and merchandise he had been carrying in his car were gone. Nuñez said the chief detective at the scene, Alex Ordoñez, told him he expected arrests to be made within hours.
Nuñez paid to fly Esly’s body to La Ceiba for an autopsy, which placed the time of death at 4 a.m. He had received a blow to the back of the head before being shot through the left temple.
After burying Esly in their hometown of Puerto Cortés, the parents returned to Roatan and visited the police detectives to learn the status of the case. Ordoñez told them he had identified a suspect.
López said the case was then “put in a drawer” for three years.
Ordoñez was transferred off the island that week. The parents paid to bring investigators from La Ceiba to collect evidence – evidence that they say subsequently “went missing.” They appealed first to Mayor Dale Jackson then to his successor, Julio Galindo, for help, to no avail.
After two years of frustration, they visited the Public Ministry in Tegucigalpa to plea for action. Detectives dispatched from the capital checked phone records and found that calls had been placed from Esly’s stolen cell phone. More time passed.
Meanwhile, Nuñez read in the newspaper about an organization concerned about the large number of unsolved murders of homosexuals in Honduras (Esly, who ran a fashion boutique, was openly gay). He did not think Esly was killed because he was gay, but he urged them to take an interest. Finally the special prosecutor for hate crimes got involved, and a detective was brought in from Chicago.
“We have faith in God that everything will be cleared up,” said Nuñez.
“After four years, we’re victorious,” said López, although she says it’s not over.
But neither parent gives any credit to authorities on Roatan.
“What bothers us,” said Nuñez, “is that the police are obstructing (perjudicando) the investigation.”
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