A vigil held in the memory of a 22-year-old mother allegedly slain by her ex-boyfriend in front of their 2-year-old son highlighted the worst outcome of domestic violence.
Family members, friends and neighbors paid their respects to Zoila Feliz in the courtyard of her building at 1161 Stratford Avenue in the Bronx on Friday, November 3.
Police had responded to a 911 call on Wednesday, November 1, from Feliz’s mother, Margarita, who discovered her daughter’s body in the apartment with knife wounds to her neck and stomach, with her son Jaylen crying next to his deceased mom.
The toddler’s father, Darrin Rose, 22, of 480 E. 188th Street, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the NYPD.
Feliz’s family approached Assemblyman Marcos Crespo in the aftermath of the slaying, and Crespo helped organize a vigil.
“We called for the vigil because we wanted three things,” Crespo said. “One, to honor and celebrate this young lady’s life; two, we didn’t want the family to suffer in silence or to feel that they are alone in their pain; and three, because we wanted to make this a teachable moment to the extent that we could highlight just how important it is for people who are in unhealthy relationships to seek help before any tragedy takes place.”
Crespo said there was “an incredible turnout of residents and other families from around the borough and community who wanted to be there with them.”
At the end of the vigil, five women approached Crespo and his staff to ask for guidance and help in their domestic situations.
“If nothing else came out of this, then that alone would be well worth the time, a testament to the family and this young lady,” Crespo said.
The family was planning to petition the building owner to install security cameras, but Crespo spoke to the owner, Sol Zalman, who agreed to install the cameras in the building, and who also offered to help with the family’s funeral arrangements.
Zalman is also working on a request by the family to possibly move to another unit in the building, according to Crespo, because Feliz’s son and mother don’t want to stay in the same apartment.
“Here was a 22-year-old young lady who was doing everything you ask her to do, had a job, plans, was taking care of her kid, doing everything right,” Crespo said. “It’s always difficult to see a young life lost. This touched a lot of hearts. She was planning her kid’s birthday, she was a good-natured girl and just a bright spot in this family.”
Crespo added that a lot of neighbors expressed and shared their grief, and that the vigil was an opportunity to not let the family suffer alone, and highlight the importance of anybody in unhealthy relationships to come forward and seek help.