Authorities in Collier County have identified three bodies that were discovered inside of a black Chevy Malibu two weeks ago as 47-year-old Jesus Valencia of Miami and his two daughters, Jael, 18, and Melani, 7, according to the Naples News.
Investigators say on the afternoon of Thursday, October 20, 63-year-old James Bronson contacted local police after noticing a vehicle had been parked across from his property in Ochopee along east Tamiami Trail all day.
Bronson stated that when he returned to his home, he decided to walk over to the vehicle and that’s when he became aware of the bodies inside. He went on to knock on the window but when there was no response, he knew it was “bad” and “could see that it wasn’t good.”
When Collier County police arrived at the scene, they discovered a woman’s body, who was later identified as Jael, in the “driver’s seat, slumped over to the right.”
Jesus, who worked as an Uber driver, and his youngest daughters were found in the backseat of the vehicle, also dead.
— Fox 4 News (@Fox4Now) October 27, 2016
According to a report, a pistol was located in the father’s hand and “all occupants of the vehicle had blood on their head and appeared to have gunshot wounds to their head.”
Investigators believe the father led his daughters to a rural area in Collier County and fatally shot Jael and Melani before turning the gun on himself.
Police officials reportedly went to the apartment home of the murder-suicide victims at the 500 block of Northwest 51st Avenue in Miami but when no answered the door, the “Miami Fire-Rescue firefighters forced it open and found Neima Flores,” who is the girls’ mother, dead on the couch.
Flores, who worked at the Peruvian bakery south of Miami International Airport, appeared to have been stabbed to death, police say.
Investigators concluded that Jesus allegedly stabbed his wife to death before leaving the scene with his two daughters, leading to a rural area in Collier County where he fatally shot them and killed himself inside of their car in a murder-suicide.
Collier deputies ID three found shot to death near Ochopee. https://t.co/dscxMi36Tv
— Naples Daily News (@ndn) October 27, 2016
Relatives were stunned after learning that Jesus had murdered his family before killing himself, saying the “family had a good relationship.”
“They got along well,” said Yessica Gonzalez, who is Valencia’s niece.
“He adored those girls. They were his pride. It was as if he and his daughters were one person.”
“There are no words for this. We’re devastated. Every one of us is in disbelief. Everyone knew his daughters were his treasures. We have no idea what happened, why this happened.”
Jessica Paz, who met Jael at South Miami Senior High while in physical education class, wrote in a Facebook post that “she was one of my first friends, and one of the best people I’ve ever known. We talked about everything–what we wanted to study, love, family, everything.”
“It hurts that this happened. I hope that she and her family are at peace now.”
On the scene where the 3 bodies were found near Ochopee earlier today. Lots of police here, including helicopter and CSI. pic.twitter.com/GB61fmQtJX
— Patrick Riley (@PatJRiley) October 20, 2016
Jael had recently “earned a scholarship to Miami-Dade College,” where she wanted to study law but her dreams were taken away when her father reportedly shot her and her sister to death before killing himself.
In a Facebook post, Maria Torres wrote, “So sad why people will hurt children. I think that was so wrong. I think if people have problems, they shouldn’t take it out on the children. What is this world coming to?”
Another Facebook user, Teri Haning, wrote, “I hate these stories, kill your selfish self, not these children that have their whole beautiful lives ahead of them.”
A motive for the Ochopee murder-suicide has not been determined.
If anyone has information regarding the shooting, you are urged to “contact police or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.”
An investigation is ongoing.