A year later, no answers in Rios death

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SPENCER — Dee Rios never got to make up with her sister.
On the night of Nov. 11, 2010, Deyanira “Dee” Rios de la Cruz watched the Latin Music Awards with her family.
But one was missing. Her sister Marisol said she and Dee had been feuding and hadn’t spoken in two months.
“That weekend, I had planned to come home and visit my mom and my sister and apologize,” Marisol said. “But I didn’t get to do that.”
Dee was killed the next morning, a Friday, during an armed robbery at Latin Mix, 429 N. Salisbury Ave.
She wasn’t supposed to be there. The 20-year-old normally worked afternoons but had taken another clerk’s shift at the store so she could earn extra money to help her family move into a nicer home.
A year into the investigation, Dee’s murderer hasn’t been caught, though police say they’re following up on a recent lead.
Nothing has changed for the Rios family, Marisol said. They’re still living the nightmare that began at 7:54 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.
“My mom, my sister and my brothers — we live our lives now like we’re in a dream and hoping we’ll wake up to like it was before,” Rios said.
‘Why aren’t we at the hospital?’
Dee had been looking for employment for a while when she got the job at Latin Mix, which was formerly Real’s Varieties.
Her brother, David, had been working there part time while he was in school and spoke to management around May about hiring her.
“He helped her get that job,” Marisol recalled.
Marisol said the morning her sister was shot was one of the hardest of her life.
Marisol was on her way to court that morning when her brothers called and said she needed to come to the house immediately.
“They told me that I needed to come home cause something had happened,” she said.
As she drove into Spencer, police K-9 units combed the ground and a helicopter buzzed overhead for any sign of the suspect.
After being told her sister had been shot, Marisol said, her first thought was, “What are we doing? Why aren’t we at the hospital?”
Then she realized it was worse than she thought.
Dee hit the panic button just after being shot and lived long enough to describe the man who shot her to police. She died at Rowan Regional from a gunshot wound to the neck.
The man who killed her got away with $11.
‘It’s paramount’
With no answers, the Rios’ family is frustrated.
“There is not much going to happen because they haven’t focused on the problem,” Alicia Rios, Dee’s mother, said as Marisol translated. “I don’t think they are looking for any answers.”
Family members say they’ve been to the Spencer Police Department, but are often told officers are waiting for blood tests to come back.
“I think that they just tell us that so I think that they are investigating,” Alicia said.
Spencer Police Chief Michael James insists the case remains a priority for the department, but says its resources are limited.
“It’s paramount in my mind,” James said. “I hope that one day we will be able to bring this individual to justice who committed this crime.”
James said the department has just one full-time investigator. He said the FBI has been promising to help with the case for the last year, but has failed to do so.
James did not disclose what type of evidence the FBI has been working with, but said the agency promised him at the start of the investigation that services would be available within six months.
According to James, Melody Buba, a forensic video examiner for the FBI, has promised help, but has not provided any assistance to the department.
Buba responded in a voicemail message to requests for comment on Friday, but declined to comment, referring the Post to the FBI’s public affairs office.
“We still continue to follow leads as we get them,” James said. “We are pursuing a lead that we got in the last month. I don’t know where it’s going to take us and it’s very time consuming, I can tell you that.”
‘Like it happenedyesterday’
Marisol Rios said she’s regretted not apologizing to her sister every day since her death.
“It’s hard to explain it. But in simple words, the person that took my sister’s life changed my life in a whole different way,” she said. “They also took many things away from me.”
Her mother agreed and said the loss of her daughter is something that will always stay with her.
“I still feel very sad, even though it’s been a year,” Alicia Rios said. “I feel like it happened yesterday. I’ll still feel the same way forever.”
Investigators ask anyone with information about the murder to contact the Spencer Police Department at 704-633-3574 or Crimestoppers at 1-866-639-5245.
A $3,200 reward will be given to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.