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Ronald Eric SALAZAR





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 25, 2005
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1990
Victim profile: Marina Estefani Salazar, 11 (his sister)
Method of murder: Strangled and her throat was cut
Location: Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to two life terms in prison on October 20, 2009
photo gallery

S. Fla. Teen Guilty Of Raping, Killing Sister

October 21, 2009

South Florida jurors have rejected an insanity plea from a teen accused of raping and killing his younger sister in 2005.

After two hours of deliberations Tuesday, a Miami-Dade jury found 19-year-old Ronald Eric Salazar guilty of first-degree murder and sexual battery.

Prosecutors said that Salazar, at age 14, was methodical when he raped and strangled his 11-year-old sister, slit her throat and then covered her body in a Winnie the Pooh comforter.

Salazar's defense attorney had said Salazar was driven insane by parents who abandoned him to poverty for more than a decade in his native El Salvador, then smuggled him to Miami where he felt unloved by his family.

Immediately following Salazar's conviction, the judge sentenced the teen to two life terms.


Teen Admits On Tape To Sister's Killing

Brother Accused Of Raping, Killing 11-Year-Old

October 16, 2009

MIAMI --The lead detective in a case involving a teenager charged with raping and killing his younger sister testified in a Miami courtroom, detailing how the then-14-year-old confessed to the crimes.

Ronald Eric Salazar, now 19, faces charges of first-degree murder and sexual battery on a minor, his 11-year-old sister, Marina.

Salazar was 14 in July 2005 when police said he beat, raped and slit the throat of Marina Salazar with a kitchen knife.

"She started to struggle. She was trying to get away, and she wasn't able to break free of him. Eventually, she stopped moving," said Detective Chris Stroze of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Police said the killing was sparked by an argument in the siblings' South Miami Heights home. Detectives found the girl's lifeless body in her bedroom, where Ronald Salazar claimed he saw two intruders who committed the crime.

But his story changed, and investigators said Ronald Salazar eventually confessed.

In his taped confession, Ronald Salazar was asked by an investigator, “What did you decide you would do with your sister?”

"Kill her," Ronald Salazar said.

On Friday, Ronald Salazar's tearful mother took the stand for his defense as he looked on.

The defense said Ronald Salazar was insane at the time of the killing. Attorneys plan to bring in mental health experts to testify Monday.


Slain girl's brother sent to mental facility

A teen charged in the death of his 11-year-old sister was taken to a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation.

- Miami Herald

Thu, Jul. 28, 2005

Ronald E. Salazar was committed to a psychiatric hospital for treatment Tuesday night, one day after he was charged with murdering his 11-year-old sister.

Salazar, 14, was being held in secure detention at the Miami juvenile lockup, following a brief court hearing Tuesday before Circuit Judge Lester Langer. The judge instructed Department of Juvenile Justice officers to keep the youth under ''close observation'' to prevent a possible suicide attempt.

Later that night, officers at the lockup took Ronald under the state's involuntary commitment law, called the Baker Act, to a Miami mental health facility for an evaluation, a source told The Herald Wednesday. The boy had become disruptive and ''out of control'' at the lockup, sources said.

Bush condolences

Meanwhile, Gov. Bush declined comment on the state's handling of the case Wednesday.

He sent his condolences to the family.

On Monday, Miami-Dade police arrested Salazar at his parents' South Miami Heights home on first-degree murder charges. Police said he confessed that he choked his 11-year-old sister, Marina Estefani Salazar, and slit her throat.

The killing occurred 10 days after a Department of Children & Families investigator closed their probe into reports that Ronald Salazar had threatened to kill members of his own family. DCF deemed Salazar a ''low'' risk, sources familiar with the case told the Herald. The family also confirmed that investigators told them Salazar's behavior was nothing but normal rebellion.

Salazar's parents contend they tried several times without success to convince caseworkers and doctors that he had threatened them and had become increasingly violent in recent months. In closing the case, state child welfare authorities handed the family a brochure about private counseling services.

In June, while the family was under investigation, a paid consultant warned the state Department of Children and Families that they were leaving children in harm's way by recommending services but failing to follow up on their well-being.

Asked about DCF's handling of the case by reporters Wednesday, Gov. Jeb Bush declined comment, citing the confidentiality of state records.

''What a tragedy, and, for the family, my heart goes out to them,'' Bush said.

Bush said state officials ''can't access'' DCF's files on the investigation into the Salazar case, therefore preventing his office from evaluating the agency's performance.

''By law, for good reason, this information is confidential,'' Bush said.

The governor expressed dismay that some of the details of the case had been detailed in the Herald.

''Someone may have leaked this information, and if they did, it's against the law,'' Bush said.


Brother, 14, charged with killing sister, 11

A 14-year-old in Miami-Dade confessed to killing his 11-year-old sister while his parents were out, according to police.

Miami Herald

Tue, Jul. 26, 2005

Miami-Dade police charged a 14-year-old South Miami Heights boy with the murder of his 11-year-old sister Monday, apparently after the two argued. The killing came just 10 days after the Department of Children and Families closed its investigation into a report that 14-year-old Ronald Eric Salazar had threatened to kill his entire family.

Ronald initially told detectives Monday morning that two men broke into his home and tried to rob the family, police said. He later confessed that he had killed his sister, Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Mary Walters said.

Marina Salazar's body was found a little after 8 a.m. Monday in a pool of blood in her bedroom at 11945 SW 173rd Ter. in South Miami Heights. She apparently had been strangled and her throat was cut, police said. Investigators were awaiting autopsy results.

Ronald, who will be 15 in September, was charged with first-degree murder.

On May 17, DCF's abuse hot line received a call about the family. A caller, whom The Herald could not identify, claimed that Ronald's father had been physically and verbally abusing the teen.


''As a result of the verbal abuse, Ronald has been very depressed and two weeks ago he tried to kill himself by putting a knife up to his chest,'' the caller said.

The report said the father had been hitting Ronald with a belt and ``with his hands. . . . The father will come up behind Ronald and slap him.''

The boy told an investigator ''he didn't care if he lives or he dies.'' A sister told a caseworker Ronald ``marked up her neck by holding her down and choking her.''

''The child stated Ronald gets mad a lot, slams doors and hits people,'' a report says.

When Ronald became violent, the sister said, ''the family will normally start to pray.'' Even Ronald's parents were afraid of the boy, the report said.

In an interview July 13, Ronald's father told DCF Ronald said ''he will come back to the home and kill all of them'' if the state sent him to a residential program.

A DCF caseworker called police to report the family's fears and Ronald was committed to a locked psychiatric hospital for treatment that day. But a psychiatrist ruled he was not suicidal, and released him back to his parents.

Caseworkers closed their investigation of the Salazar family two days later, concluding that the children were not in harm's way. ''At this time, the risk of harm to the children is low,'' the report said.

Caseworkers did refer the Salazars to a private agency for voluntary services, but the family didn't keep an appointment with a counselor.

Flora Beal, DCF's Miami spokeswoman, declined to discuss the case Monday, citing privacy laws.


''This is a very tragic case of sibling-on-sibling violence. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family during this troubling time,'' Beal said.

On Monday morning, the children's father, Samuel Salazar, left Ronald home alone with Marina and their 8-year-old brother while he took his 12-year-old daughter to school. The children's mother had already left for work, police said.

When Samuel Salazar came home he found Ronald in a neighbor's yard, police said. The teen had gone to the neighbor's house to call police after concocting the story about two men breaking into the house.

The teen told his father, ''We've been robbed, we've been robbed,'' said Miami-Dade Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

The parents could not be reached for comment.

By midday, neighbors were questioning Ronald's story.

''It has to be somebody the family knows that did this,'' said neighbor Sandra Morris. "It can't be a stranger.''

School officials were distraught to learn they lost such an apparently happy student.

''Marina was an exceptional little girl,'' said Lola Johnson, who was the girl's fifth-grade teacher last year at Miami Heights Elementary. "She was just a flower, she was just lovely.''

In most ways, she was a typically loveable fifth-grader: she wrote poetry about nature and read stories.

But she never mentioned her siblings. ''She never talked about them,'' Johnson said.


Police: 14-Year-Old Boy Confesses To Killing Sister

Teen Charged With First-Degree Murder

July 26, 2005

MIAMI --A 14-year-old boy who had recently been committed to a psychiatric hospital killed his 11-year-old sister in her bedroom, police said.

Ronald Eric Salazar initially told his father and investigators that two men broke into his home and tried to rob the family, but later confessed that he had killed his sister, Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Mary Walters said.

Ronald was charged Monday with first-degree murder. A judge Tuesday ordered him held without bond until an Aug. 30 hearing.

Marina Salazar's body was found shortly after 8 a.m. in a pool of blood in her South Miami Heights bedroom. She apparently had been strangled and her throat was cut, police said.

The children had been left alone in the house, police said. When Samuel Salazar returned after taking another daughter to school, he found Ronald outside a neighbor's house, where the teen had called authorities with his story about a robbery, police said.

Samuel Salazar said he didn't believe his son's story.

"I told the police, 'Grab my son. Don't let him go. It hurts me in my heart. Grab him,'" he said.

Police said Ronald had been committed to a psychiatric hospital less than a month ago, after a Department of Children & Families caseworker reported his father's fear that Ronald would "come back to the home and kill all of them" if he was sent to a residential program.

A psychiatrist ruled that Ronald was not suicidal, and the teen was released back to his parents.

Samuel Salazar said his son has mental problems stemming from when the family lived in El Salvador during a war and also from drug abuse.

Flora Beal, DCF's Miami spokeswoman, declined to discuss the case, citing privacy laws.


Boy Charged In 11-Year-Old Sister's Death

14-Year-Old Charged With First-Degree Murder

July 25, 2005

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. A 14-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of his 11-year-old sister.

Police arrested the Ronald Salazar after they say he confessed to the killing.

Investigators said Marina Salazar was at home with her brother Monday morning while their father took another child to school. Their mother had already left for work, according to police.

Initially, Ronald Salazar told police that he saw two black men run out of the house that is located at 11945 SW 173 Terrace in the South Miami Heights area. He said he went into his sister's room and saw blood everywhere, and then ran to a neighbor's house for help.

Police said Marina Salazar had been strangled and her throat was cut.

From early in the day, it appeared to Local 10 reporter Rad Berky that police were not looking for the two men the boy described. Police did not give the media any descriptions of the alleged attackers or of a getaway car. There also did not appear to be a major search going on in the area. Berky said there were no police dogs brought in and no police helicopters in the air, which he said one would normally expect.

Marina Salazar's classmates at Miami Heights Elementary described her as popular and caring. Everyone who spoke to Local 10 said that she was an exceptionally nice girl.

Police told Local 10 that just two weeks ago, Ronald Salazar was admitted to a hospital for psychological evaluation under Florida's Baker Act. He was committed after a Department of Children and Families caseworker reported his father's fear that Ronald would "come back to the home and kill all of them" if he was sent to a residential program.

Ronald Salazar was released back to his parents after a psychiatrist ruled that Ronald was not suicidal.

He is charged with first-degree murder.



Wed, Jul. 27, 2005

• May 17: The state Department of Children & Families (DCF) receives a report that Samuel Salazar was verbally and physically abusing his son, Ronald. The report also indicated that Ronald was abusing one of his sisters and had threatened to kill himself. DCF opens investigation.

• June 2005: State-paid consultant warns Miami child-welfare administrators they are leaving children in harm's way when they end investigations by handing out brochures for services and failing to follow up with families.

• July 13: A state social worker visits the Salazar home. Ronald is committed to a hospital for an evaluation after he allegedly admits he has a knife under his pillow and threatens to kill a social worker, sources tell The Herald. The hospital releases Ronald after about four hours, deeming him ''healthy,'' according to the family.

• July 15: DCF officials close their probe, concluding Ronald is not a threat to his siblings. Caseworkers recommended the family take Ronald for voluntary counseling, which the Salazars say they were trying to arrange.

• July 25: Ronald tells police he choked his sister, Marina, and slit her throat. He is arrested on charges of first-degree murder.

• July 26: Circuit Judge Lester Langer orders Ronald detained for 30 days in a juvenile lockup while prosecutors seek an indictment from a grand jury. Assistant State Attorney Shana Belyeu said the state is considering charging the youth in adult court. The judge orders the youth to be under ''close observation'' -- or suicide watch. Langer said the measures were necessary "to protect this young man in the event he goes into crisis.''



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