A beautiful woman in the prime of life, brutally murdered. It's been 12 years since Rebecca Peña was killed, but as Patrick Fraser tells us in tonight's Out for Justice, Miami-Dade detectives are determined to find answers in a case that's gone cold.
WSVN — If you knew Rebecca Peña, you knew she was special.
Juana Peña (translation): “She was so sweet, so respectful, she always had a smile on her lips.”
The 26-year-old was beautiful on the inside and outside. The mother of a little girl, working all day, dreaming of being a star.
Juana Peña (translation): “One day she told me, 'Mom, I'm going to be an actress.'”
In fact, on April 11th, 2001, the day she disappeared, the aspiring actress was an extra in the Will Smith movie “Ali,” shot in Miami. After finishing on the movie set at 2 a.m., she got in her car to go home. It was the last time anyone saw her alive.
Juana Peña (translation: “In the morning I called her, and she didn't answer her cell phone.”
Rebecca's car was found at her apartment, called Foxcroft Apartments in Miramar. Police and her family searched for five days. Then some teenagers saw a suitcase floating in the Biscayne Canal off I-95 near 153rd Street. They dragged it out of the water and called 911.
Police officer (on radio): “Blood was coming out of the bag, out of the suitcase.”
It was Rebecca's Peña's body. The police had to go to her parents' house to deliver the news.
Rafael Peña (translation): “At that moment everything fell, the heart and soul, to the floor.”
Early on the family told detectives about Rebecca's old boyfriend, Berkley Curtis.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Terry Goldston: “She was in fact being stalked by Berkley Curtis.”
The day before Rebecca died, witnesses saw Curtis confront Rebecca in her apartment complex parking lot.
Terry Goldston: “It was heated; a lot of profanity was used, and she apparently appeared to be somewhat distraught.”
The confrontation was nothing new.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Terry Goldston: “Rebecca Peña had a restraining order in place for her ex-boyfriend, and also she had been the victim of numerous incidents of domestic violence.”
There was no physical evidence tying Curtis to Rebecca's murder, and he refused to talk to detectives. Curtis then took the daughter he and Rebecca had and moved to Maryland with a woman who claimed he was with her the night Rebecca disappeared.
Terry Goldston: “She provided what we considered to be an alibi.”
Now, Detective Goldston is re-interviewing witnesses, hoping someone can remember something to help nail a killer.
Terry Goldston: “We're mainly concerned about the apartment complex in Miramar on Foxcroft Road. Maybe someone saw something they didn't realize was something of importance.”
It's a long shot, but maybe someone remembers driving by this canal on I-95 and seeing someone put a suitcase near the water.
Rafael Peña (translation): “Please help us and call the police so we can resolve this huge case of my family, and remember that this too can happen to you.”
Just one anonymous phone call could nab a killer, help police track down the person who abducted Rebecca Peña on April the 11th, 2001 from this apartment complex in Miramar, stuffed her body in a suitcase, and dumped her in this canal off I-95. If you know something, quietly make the call to Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
And if you have lost a loved one and want to remind people you are still out for justice, give us a call. With this Out for Justice, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Out For Justice
Miami-Dade: 305-598-HELP (4357)
Broward: 954-796-HELP (4357)