The decades-old mystery of female body parts that washed up on South Florida's beaches has been solved. Nilsa Padilla was murdered, her body dismembered and then tossed into the waters off Key Biscayne. Read the full story here.
The decades-old mystery of female body parts that washed up on South Florida's beaches has been solved.
Nilsa Padilla was murdered, her body dismembered and then tossed into the waters off Key Biscayne.
Her boyfriend, Jorge Nunez, committed the crime, their daughters said – but he will likely never be prosecuted. He is believed to be in his home country of Peru.
"I pray for her every single day," said Padilla's daughter Bernisa Davis.
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As children, she and her sister, Gloria Hampton, were badly beaten and neglected, they had to catch their own food, and the sexual abuse by their father went on for years.
"I remember the fondling, I remember the intercourse," Hampton said. "I remember doing oral things to him, he would have us do all of that stuff to him," she added.
For about two weeks in April 1985, body parts kept washing ashore. The gruesome finds stretched from Matheson Hammock in south Dade to the Newport Beachside Hotel in Sunny Isles Beach to the north.
Davis and Hampton spent much of their childhood on Key Biscayne, living out of a camper with their horribly abusive father and negligent mother, they said.
They remember the night he killed her, the hysteria, the violence, the screaming and crying, they said. Hampton even recalls the color of the bag used in the crime.
"I remember being outside, and he put her body in an army green-colored bag," she said.
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The girls had another sister, Alicia, who was about two years old. In a fit of rage Nunez killed her too, they said. Davis's memory of that incident is vivid.
"He knocked her so hard, and she looked at me and she was in my arms and she said I love you in Spanish and then she passed out, and I said Alicia, Alicia, wake up Alicia, no response," Davis said.
Over the years Hampton told her horrific tale to Miami-Dade Police investigators, but they gave it no attention.
Then she met cold case investigator Sgt. Buck McCully.
Last year, some 28 years after the crime, he made a positive identification on Padilla's remains, some of them found in that green garbage bag described by Hampton.
"When I called her and I said listen, we found your mother, she was ecstatic, she said you have given me my life back, I'm not crazy. Everybody told her she was crazy her whole life," McCully said.
His daughters think he's alive, somewhere.
Hampton hopes to see him again one day, as a defendant in court.
"When they find my dad and I'm sitting in the courtroom with him up there and they find him guilty, the face that he will put, knowing that feeling that he is going to feel, that is what is going to fill my gap," she said.
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