Burbank bride’s family ‘destroyed’ by her murder
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org May 18, 2012 6:32PM
People attend the wake for Estrella Carrera at Foran Funeral Home in Summit, IL Friday, May 18, 2012. Carrera was found dead shortly after celebrating her wedding the previous weekend in Burbank, IL. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:21PM
As family members prepared Friday for the wake of a Burbank woman allegedly stabbed to death by her husband shortly after they were married, her uncle Pedro Terazas remembered her as a little girl.
“She was real friendly to everyone,” Terazas said of Estrella Carrera. “It’s terrible, this situation right now. All the family is destroyed.”
Hundreds of friends, family members and acquaintances packed the Foran Funeral Home in Summit to remember Carrera. Three lots were filled with cars, and a Summit police officer had to direct traffic.
Carrera, 26, was found stabbed to death May 12 in her condo’s bathtub. Her body was clad in the silver sequined cocktail dress she wore to celebrate her wedding.
Her groom, Arnoldo Jimenez, 30, of Chicago, is wanted for her murder. Authorities believe he fled Illinois for a Texas town near the Mexican border to avoid prosecution for first-degree murder, according to an FBI warrant.
Terazas, of Joliet, said he hopes police catch Jimenez before he flees to Mexico, where authorities say his parents still live.
If they don’t, members of Carrera’s family are waiting for him on the other side of the border in case that’s where he winds up, Terazas said.
“Her relatives know him,” Terazas said. “Everyone is angry.”
Eileen Puchalski, 51, who teaches Carrera’s third-grade daughter at Lee Elementary School in Chicago, said an aunt of the student contacted the school Monday to break the bad news.
“It came as a great shock to the school community,” Puchalski said, adding that the daughter is a straight-A student. “My students are my children, and I feel like I lost a family member.”
Puchalski described Carrera as a caring parent who was heavily involved in her daughter’s education. Whenever her daughter arrived at school, Carrera always made sure she was well groomed and that she had what she needed.
Puchalski said that when she saw the girl inside the funeral home, she gave her a big hug and a magazine featuring Justin Bieber.
“She’s a well-rounded, beautiful little girl, and my heart breaks for her,” Puchalski said.
Carrera also has a 2-year-old son. Jimenez is the father of the boy.
Altrisha Sitko, 30, of Chicago’s West Lawn community, knew Carrera from seeing her at school events. Their daughters are in the same class.
“It’s really sad what happened to her,” she said. “I wish the best for her daughter and her family.”
Sitko claimed she spoke with Carrera on May 9 — two days before she wed Jimenez — and Carrera expressed reservations about marrying him.
“She was saying the reason she was getting married is that he was going to take her kids from her,” Sitko said. “She was really scared, and that was the last time I talked to her.”
Loretta Waits, who said she worked with Carrera years ago at Standard Parking in McCormick Place, remembered Carrera fondly even though she hadn’t seen her in a couple of years.
“She was the best, believe me,” said Waits, who was a cashier, while Carrera parked cars. “It was always something funny she was doing. She kept us laughing.”
While friends and family grieved for Carrera on Friday, authorities continued to search for her alleged killer. Police in Burbank and Texas did not return calls for comment.
An FBI warrant issued Thursday said authorities had tracked the use of Jimenez’s cell phone on May 13 — the day Carrera’s body was found — to Hidalgo, Texas, which is on the Mexican border.
Family members told police Jimenez spoke with his sister by phone that day, telling her he had a bad fight with his wife and left her bleeding, according to the FBI.
Jimenez also told another “close associate” that he was leaving Illinois, and if questioned by police, he should tell them he went to Mexico, the FBI said.
Jimenez, who was born in Texas, still owns property in Pharr, Texas, the FBI said. He also has relatives in North Carolina, and his parents live in Mexico, the FBI said.
Jimenez was last known to be driving a black 2006 Maserati.