Suspects arrested in Cuba for murder of Hialeah Gardens family
BY ELAINE DE VALLE
Cuban police have arrested the suspects of the violent roadside robbery
and slaying in December of five people,
including a Hialeah Gardens couple who had flown to the island to visit family and their 8-year-old grandson.
The key clue was, according to relatives in Miami, a talking doll the couple
had taken for a friend's daughter,
which the killers stole and later sold.
President Fidel Castro announced on state-run television Tuesday night
that island authorities had arrested all
those involved in the ''especially repugnant'' crime. The comments came at the end of a lengthy discourse that
centered on last week's incident at the Mexican embassy in Havana and mark the first time the crime is reported
''The police worked very hard . . . it was a difficult case,'' Castro said. ``We found out every last detail.''
He did not provide any of those details, however, nor were they published
in Wednesday's Granma, the
Communist Party's daily, which made a passing reference to Castro's comments.
But Osmani Placencia -- whose parents, young son and sister were killed
in the attack -- said he got details from
his ex-wife in Santa Clara Wednesday morning.
''My mother took a doll -- one of those dolls that talk -- and because
of that doll they found the killers,'' said
Placencia, who had provided authorities a detailed list describing the luggage and items his parents had taken on
He said he was told that two men, allegedly from the Oriente province, committed the crime.
Killed in the robbery were Placencia's parents -- Ada Lorenzo, 52, and
Celedonio Placencia, 62 -- his son Daniel
Osmani Placencia, 8, and sister Yailen Placencia, 28. Also murdered: family friend Domingo Delgado, who picked
up the couple at Jose Martí International Airport and was driving along a dark stretch of highway near Matanzas
when the group was attacked.
The killers' motive: robbery.
''They took everything. Every single little thing they could find,'' Placencia
said, adding that the robbers did not
find some money his mother had hidden in her girdle.
''They even went through my father's clothes as he lay there dead,'' he
said. ``The only thing they left in my
father's pocket was 96 cents.''
On Wednesday, he said he was somewhat relieved that Cuban authorities had
recognized the crime as a random
act. Cuban authorities had originally sought help from the FBI in Miami amid rumors that Placencia or his family
were involved in alien smuggling -- and that the killings were retaliation for a lost passenger in a clandestine trip.
''The police have abandoned that theory. They now say they were strangers,
people who did not know them, who
targetted them to rob them,'' Placencia said, adding that the two men arrested are suspected of another robbery
in which foreign tourists were killed a few months earlier.