Candlelight vigil honors family slain on Christmas

Rose Varona, Marilyn Velasquez’s sister, leans on Kurt Whyte during the Velasquez family candlelight vigil at King Meadows Park on Jan. 5. Photo by Anthony Jackson.

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The lives of the Velasquez family — Marilyn, 45; Adrian, 14; Roberto, 22; and Carlos, 50 — were cut short Christmas Day in what police believe was a murder-suicide in their Rio Rancho home. A candlelight vigil for them at King Meadows Park on Jan. 5 brought out roughly 200 people.

As the sun set, the candles they brought illuminated a white table covered with photos of Marilyn, Adrian and Roberto. Family members cried as they shared memories of the victims.

“I’ll always love her. She will forever be in my heart and my nieces’ and nephews’, too,” said Rose Varona, Marilyn’s sister and a Rio Rancho Realtor.

Varona and Velasquez were pregnant with their children at the same time.

Edwin Quinones, Marilyn Velasquez’s brother, looks into his candle as Nikki Peralta leans on him during the Velasquez family candlelight vigil at King Meadows Park on Jan. 5.
Photo Anthony Jackson.

Speakers at the vigil, coordinated by the New Mexico Pink Ladies — a community outreach organization — focused on the victims of the family and the life they lived.

Maria Romero, whose daughter was close friends with Adrian, said she came to remember Adrian’s “beautiful soul.”

“Adrian will be greatly missed and never forgotten,” Romero said. “The world was better with all three of them here.”

The night grew colder, and the crowd grew closer together. Some were wrapped in fleece blankets; others were wrapped in the arms of their friends or family.

Kathleena Hernandez and Tori Shaner, classmates of Adrian, comforted each other as they grieved.

Hernandez said she knew him for more than five years. Shaner shared gifted math classes with Adrian.

“(The vigil) brings us all together and makes us grateful for what we have in our life. We’re all a big family and when stuff like this happens, we’ll always have each other’s backs in the community,” Hernandez said.

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