BROOKLYN CRIMINAL COURT— Rosa Torres was scheduled to make her monthly trip from her home in Sunset Park to Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island Friday to visit the grave of her youngest daughter, Lissette, who was murdered on New Year's Day in 1987.
Instead, Torres sat in a Downtown Brooklyn courtroom alongside her husband, Jose, and other family members to look at the man who allegedly killed their daughter.
Edwin Alcaide, 53, who used to live in the Torres' neighborhood, was arrested on Thursday after Cold Case detectives matched his DNA with samples found under three of Lissette Torres' fingernails.
"After 25 years of not knowing, and now they they have actually arrested somebody, it makes me happy," Rosa Torres said through a translator. "To be able to celebrate the holidays like Christmas and New Years, it’s something the family hasn’t been able to do for 25 years."
Alcaide was arraigned on Friday morning, and faces a second-degree murder charge.
He remained silent during the arraignment and wore a striped blue shirt, grey cargo pants and held a plaid black and white baseball hat.
Judge Devin Cohen ordered him held without bail and granted him protective custody until the next hearing on July 24.
Assistant District Attorney Nicole Itkin gave new details of the crime and said Lisette Torres was found with stab wounds to her head and neck, and that no murder weapon was ever recovered.
She said witnesses saw Alcaide walking with Lissette Torres near the spot where her body was found at 28th Street and Third avenue beneath the Gowanus Expressway, just an hour before Torres' body was found.
She said Alcaide has a lengthy rap sheet that includes robbery, sexual assault, rape and drug charges.
Rosa Torres' son-in-law Jose Garcia, a 20-year NYPD veteran who served in Park Slope, said he knew Alcaide from the neighborhood and described him as a "shady character" who was always "wheeling and dealing" in the neighborhood.
He said Alcaide knew Lissette Torres through an ex-boyfriend. Garcia said he had suspected Alcaide of the crime.
"I've had these feelings about him for a while," Garcia said.
Garcia said the family's hopes were raised after Cold Case detectives re-opened the investigation 18 months ago. Cops posted flyers in the neighborhood asking if anyone had additional information about the crime.
Alcaide was living in the East Village at the time of his arrest, but Garcia said he'd seen the man in Sunset Park as recently as three months ago.
"He's not a human being," Garcia said. "I'm glad he's behind bars. I hope he spends the rest of his life behind bars."
Garcia's wife, Lourdes, described her sister as a kind and energetic teenager who was known in the community for her striking looks and outgoing personality.
She said Lissette was taking a year off from school after graduating from Our Lady of Perpetual Help high school, and that she had worked as a waitress and at a law firm.
"She was still figuring out what she was going to do with her life," Garcia said.
Lizzette Sierra, a childhood friend of Lissette Torres who acted as a translator for Rosa Torres, accompanied the family as they left the courthouse.
Sierra, 47, described the last two days as "surreal."
"We've been waiting a long time, and now the who, how and why is going to be answered," Sierra said. "I have a sense of tranquility knowing that he won't hurt anyone else."