Neighbors of an elderly South Florida woman who was stabbed to death allegedly by her daughter described her as an asset to her southwest Miami-Dade community Tuesday.
Sonia Santiesteban, 66, was found stabbed to death in her home in the 17300 block of Southwest 232nd Street Sunday, police said.
Her daughter, 40-year-old Yudenia Rodriguez, faces charges of second-degree murder, child abuse with no great bodily harm and tampering with a witness, according to online Miami-Dade Corrections records.
On Tuesday, neighbors said Santiesteban was a grandmother who was raising three children as her own.
"The finest family you could possibly find," neighbor Elizabeth Ignoffo said.
Police said Santiesteban wanted Rodriguez, who was also living in the home, to move out, and the two got into a fight. Rodriguez then armed herself with a knife and fatally stabbed her mother, an arrest affidavit said.
Ignoffo remembered Santiesteban as a very proud woman.
"She was always immaculately groomed and nicely dressed and just an asset and pleasant and kind to everybody," she said.
Santiesteban was raising three children who were siblings. One was a 15-year-old girl who was her biological granddaughter. She took in the other two to keep them together.
"They all worked and helped and kept things nice," Ignoffo said.
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She said they also loved their grandmother dearly.
“I used to have flowers in my yard and the oldest daughter would come over and say 'could I have a flower for my grandmother,' so you know she was well loved and I used to give them flowers," she said. "They used to come and do crafts with me and make things for their grandmother, Mothers Day they were always in my house making things."
The family was also described as very close to God and their church. Ignoffo said that’s why she was happy to hear temporary custody of them has been given to their church pastor.
“I am sorry and I am so grateful they will be with their church family," she said.
Neighbor Raul Ruiz said Rodriguez recently moved out of a Little Havana efficiency where she lived and was seen with her mother last Sunday picking up belongings. That day, neighbors said, they noticed that Rodriguez was agitated and the police were called out. A neighbor said police didn't take her to a psychiatric hospital because a family member had to do that. The neighbor said that Rodriguez was hearing voices and wasn't sleeping.
Rodriguez is being held in the Miami-Dade Pre-Trial Correctional Facility, following a bizarre appearance in bond court Monday where she was bent backward, groaning in pain with her handcuffs on, and the judge recommended she be evaluated by a doctor.