Memorial held for teen found dead at construction site
SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Grieving loved ones of a South Florida teen found dead at a construction site came together Monday night for a prayer-led memorial as police continue to search for the driver of the truck captured on surveillance video dumping the victim's lifeless body into the lot.
According to detectives, surveillance cameras captured the truck throwing the body of 18-year-old Tiffany Cabreja into a field on the 282nd block of Southwest 144th Avenue Saturday morning. Police are calling this a murder investigation.
"What they did to her was very, very awful," said Myriam Vasquez, Cabreja's mother, during the somber gathering, which featured prayers said in Spanish. "I just cannot think what this cruel person was thinking when he did [this] to her."
"I feel very ... cannot eat," said Domingo Cabreja, the victim's father, on Monday. "I'm very depressed, but I try to keep [my spirits] up. I don't want my nerves to go down."
Domingo said he last saw his daughter Friday night. "She put on her dress, she went out, came back, and then half an hour [later] she went out and didn't come back," he said. "She told me she was going to the store, she walked there and then someone called her, her friend, and they pick her up."
Domingo said he does not know what happened after that. Cabreja's body was found the following morning.
According to investigators, witnesses reported seeing Cabreja's body fall out of that truck about half a mile from the construction site, as the driver was making a turn. They said the driver stopped, got out, picked up the body and kept going.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Robin Pinkard said, "The vehicle is described as a white commercial vehicle with an open-caged style bed, with a tarp that was rolled up on the vehicle at the time." Investigators added the truck has lettering on the driver's side.
Witnesses also told police they saw a toddler inside the vehicle. "They do advise that there was a 2 or a 3-year-old child inside of the vehicle, which does concern us at this time," added Pinkard.
Miami-Dade Police Detective Roy Rutland said that toddler may be even younger. "The child may actually be 1 or 2 years old, which now raises our concern even more," he said.
The video that captured the truck belongs to Joyce, a nearby resident. "One of the detectives and a police officer saw that I had a camera, so they stopped, they asked, and I said they are more than welcome to have the camera," said the resident, who handed over the footage to authorities. "Someone lost their child, someone murdered their daughter."
Joyce said the footage recorded the time when the truck arrived at the construction site, around 8 a.m. "On the video, [it shows] only that the truck had rolled by at that time. They had a time that the truck rolled by the street, so they ran back my videos and found it."
The homeowner said she can identify with what Cabreja's parents are going through. "I lost a child in 2007 and a stepson in 2003, so the loss of a child is the worst that can happen, so anything to help catch the murderer we will do."
Neighbors are now fearing for their safety. "It's scary. It's really scary because I feel safe, and we all know our neighbors," said South Miami-Dade resident Amanda Castillo. "We are very close, and if something happens everybody knows what is going on."
Friends are now grieving their loss. "Now, not only do we have to bury a friend, but her dad does also," said Alyssia Thurman. "My heart goes out to her and her family cause now what is her father going to do?"
Friends said Cabreja dreamed of becoming a nurse.
"No woman should deserve to die like that," said friend Daniel Greenidge.
Pinkard said, "Witnesses are describing the subject as a white Latin male in his 30s wearing a dark-colored shirt."
Police are asking anyone with information to come forward regardless of immigration status. "We want to be very clear: We're not a federal agency enforcing immigration laws," said Rutland. "We're here for information. We want to solve this case."
The father hopes authorities find his daughter's killer. "Police better find out who did it," he said. "I miss her. I'm the only one she had. For everything, it was me, me, me. God give you life and God take it away."
A growing memorial comprised of several potted flowers, bouquets, stuffed animals, candles and a cardboard sign was placed Monday near the spot where Cabreja's body was found. Investigators said they will wait for autopsy reports before they release a cause of death.
"Justice will be done, if not here, from heaven," said an elderly woman shortly after she laid some pink flowers on Cabreja's memorial.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of the subject or truck, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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