Candlelight Vigil Brings Crowds to Mourn Murdered Bronx Girl
HUNTS POINT — Mourners cupping small candles formed a flickering constellation at a vigil outside the Barretto Street building where Destiny Sanchez was found smothered and strangled.
As the crowd gathered Monday evening, one of the teenager's older cousins read a poem from the perspective of Destiny as an angel gazing down on her anguished loved ones.
“As I move among the clouds, I look down upon you and smile, while the angels sing a heavenly song,” the cousin read.
Another young woman held a cell phone to a loudspeaker and played an R&B ballad whose line, “These fists will always protect ya” prompted many in the crowd to sing along.
A local clergyman led the assorted friends, relatives and neighbors in a prayer for an end to the violence that snatched away the popular girl just days before her 16th birthday.
“God, enough is enough,” said the Rev. Reggie Stutzman of Real Life Church. “We ask that peace will reign in our hearts and that peace will reign on the streets of Hunts Point.”
Soon after, the crowd of more than 100 people marched through the neighborhood under the glow of streetlights, headlights and candlelight, chanting “We want justice” and “Stop the violence.”
Relatives discovered Destiny bruised and unconscious Friday morning in the vestibule of the building at 640 Barretto St., where she had been visiting relatives of her father’s girlfriend, according to police and family members.
The following day, police arrested and charged Luis Vega, 34, with endangering the welfare of a child for drinking liquor with Destiny Thursday night, according to a criminal complaint.
Vega, who is the brother of Destiny’s father’s girlfriend, has not been charged with any other crimes, but is considered a suspect in the girl's death, sources said Sunday.
At the vigil, Maria Martinez said her daughter and Destiny walked together most mornings to the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship, the high school they attended in Wakefield.
“Three days ago she was at my house eating tacos with my daughter,” said Martinez, 37. “She didn’t deserve to die this way.”
Speaking into a megaphone at the vigil, RodStarz, a rapper and activist who lives on Barretto Street, told the crowd it was their responsibility to prevent such crimes.
“We have to defend our community,” he said. “We will not accept this type of violence on girls, on women.”
During the march, the crowd followed a souped-up SUV belonging to the president of the Street Famous Auto Club, one of several Bronx car groups whose members attended the rally. Some of the clubs plan to host a benefit dinner Tuesday to raise money for Destiny’s funeral.
A white Lexus trailed the SUV for part of the march. Destiny’s mother sat solemnly inside it.
After the march, many people added their candles to a small sidewalk memorial adorned with flowers, photographs, stuffed animals and a pink poster that read, "Happy Birthday Destiny Sanchez."