PARKCHESTER — Destiny Sanchez would have turned 16 Friday.
On Saturday, rather than celebrate the Bronx teen's Sweet Sixteen, dozens of her friends and relatives gathered at Parkchester Funeral Home to mourn her death, just a week after she was found strangled in a Hunts Point building lobby.
“I Juss Cant Believe My Sis Aint Here To HAve FUN on Her Bday,” her brother, Miguel Sanchez, 14, posted on his Facebook page Friday.
A day later, at Destiny’s viewing, Miguel wrote, “My sis looks so beautiful. Thiss is very sad.”
At the funeral home Saturday afternoon, many mourners arrived wearing shirts and hoodies emblazoned with photos of Destiny, who they said loved to model, puckering and posing for the camera.
One pink shirt read, “Pretty girls live forever!” Another shirt featured a screenshot of a message that Destiny posted on her Facebook page proclaiming her gratitude for her loved ones on Thanksgiving — the day before she was found murdered.
“Everybody’s taking it really rough,” said Raul Rosado, 46, an uncle of the girl many knew as “Dee Dee.”
Destiny’s grandmother was driven to the funeral home Saturday from the hospital where she had been sent after news of the teen’s death made her ill, Rosado said.
Destiny’s mother, Iulisse Clementa, who goes by Eve, arrived at the funeral home amid a flock of supporters about an hour after viewing hours began.
She soon entered the chapel where Destiny was laid in an open casket and began to weep, relatives said. It was the first time she had seen her daughter’s lifeless body, they said.
“When I called her earlier, she said, ‘I don’t even know how I can go there,’” Rosado said. “She was building up courage to come here.”
“I’m being strong for her,” added Clementa's son and Destiny’s brother, Miguel.
Destiny, a freshman at the Academy for Scholarship and Entrepreneurship in Wakefield, was seldom seen without a smile, relatives recalled Saturday. A fan of Reggaeton music, the rapper French Montana and R&B singer Miguel, Destiny was a deft dancer and the center of attention at parties, they added.
Relatives discovered the girl bruised and unconscious Nov. 23 in the vestibule of an apartment building at 640 Barretto St., where she had been visiting relatives of her father’s girlfriend, according to police and family members.
She had been sexually assaulted, strangled and doused with bleached, according to police sources.
No one has yet been charged in the attack. But Luis Vega, 34, who has ties to Destiny’s family, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after allegedly drinking liquor with the girl on the eve of her death in the building where her body was later found, according to a criminal complaint.
Cops are zeroing in on Vega, who appeared in court Thursday, as the focus of the murder investigation, police sources have said. They are currently awaiting the results of forensic tests.
On Saturday, a few relatives expressed muted outrage over the attack and a desire to see the killer brought to justice.
“I hope they catch the bastard,” one woman whispered to another.
“They need to hurry the hell up,” another said about the police, “and get all the evidence they need to get him.”
Rosado, Destiny’s uncle, said he would withhold judgment about Vega until he sees whom police charge with the lethal attack.
“I don’t know whether he did it or not,” Rosado said. “But it would be good to have somebody get arrested for it. That would give us some closure.”
The wake for Destiny Sanchez is at Parkchester Funeral Home, 1430 Unionport Rd., in the Bronx. The viewing continues from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.