Woman jailed after allegedly stabbing mother to death
SOUTH MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida woman accused of killing her mother with a kitchen knife remains behind bars.
Tuesday morning neighbors reacted to the shocking allegations. "When I received the news, I said, 'Oh my goodness,' it's just terrible, terrible," said Manuel Velasquez. "I can't sleep the whole night."
Forty-year-old Yudenia Rodriguez is accused of stabbing her mother to death, while the victim's adopted children were nearby. She was charged with second-degree murder and child abuse.
Monday morning, Rodriguez appeared in bond and had to be handcuffed by a corrections officer who said, "She has to be cuffed behind her back. She's aggressive."
Rodriguez responded, "I'm not aggressive. I'm really not."
"Mrs. Rodriguez, you are charged with killing your mother," Judge Ellen Sue Venzer told her.
According to police, Rodriguez pushed her mother, 66-year-old Sonia Santiesteban, to the ground during an argument and then stabbed her to death.
"It was such a nice, loving family," said concerned neighbor Elizabeth Ignoffo. "Oh, I can't imagine anything more dreadful for her granddaughter to watch her get killed by her daughter."
A neighbor who asked not to be identified said he ran to render aid to Santiesteban. "There was nothing I could do. My intention when I went in there [was to] try to, like, give her CPR, but it was already too late for her," he said.
According to the neighbor, Santiesteban lay on the floor of her trailer home stabbed to death, surrounded by her grandchildren. "[Yudenia] was still in there, so I don't know if she was going to hurt the kids, but, man, I was holding the doorknob, and the kids didn't want to leave the grandmother's side," he said.
Santiesteban cared for her legally adopted grandchildren. The mother and grandmother cleaned houses for a living to take care of the children Santiesteban adopted from state care when they were young.
Santiesteban told the El Nuevo Herald in a December 2012, "They've changed my life. They adore me. They make my life happier. For them, I quit smoking."
"She spoiled them. She bought them everything. She cared about them," said friend and neighbor Natalie Schelmetty.
Neighbors described Santiesteban as a beautifully dressed, standout member of the community who was very involved with Redlands Church of the Nazarene, a local house of worship.
No one in the neighborhood had ever heard of Rodriguez until Saturday. "I just saw the daughter there sitting in the front of the trailer like mumbling and cussing to herself," said neighbor Robin Irwin.
"I understand that the daughter had mental problems," said Ignoffo.
Ignoffo said Santiesteban's death is a great loss, both to her grandchildren and the community. "The grandmother cared for and nurtured those three children and supervised them and encouraged their education and was just an exemplary person," she said.
Area resident Octavio Llanez said she was a well-liked member of her community. "She was very nice, very nice ... loved by all the neighborhood," he said.
Santiesteban's grandchildren are now in the custody of Treavor Proud, their church pastor. A custody hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 23.
Rodriguez is being held without bond. Judge Venzer ordered her to undergo an immediate psychological evaluation.
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