On Nov. 18, four members of a family were killed in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, by their landlord and an accomplice. The fifth victim of the attack, a 13 year-old boy, survived and is considered a miracle of God by investigators.
Nelson Mendez was one of the police officers who found the boy beaten and covered in blood in the early morning after his family was killed by Christopher Sanchez Ascencio and Jose Bosch. Police have detained both men and have charged them with more than 20 counts of murder.
The 13 year-old boy survived the attack in which his brother Miguel, his grandmother Clementina, his mother Carmita Uceda Ciriaco, and her husband Miguel Ortiz were all killed.
In statements to Peruvian television, Mendez said the boy had been stabbed and thrown over a bridge. The fact he survived was “a miracle of God,” he added.
“He was sobbing and looked severely beaten. His nose looked broken, he was swollen, his knees were injured and his back was covered in bruises. His arm was hurting and he was bleeding from the neck,” Mendez recalled.
“I need help, I need help … they killed my mom, my dad, my grandma and my brother … I am telling the truth, please believe me,” the boy told police.
Police said the father was apparently the first one killed. The two women were forced to their knees before being executed. Mendez said that according to the boy, his mother told them never to stop praying.
Before the father was killed, the two boys begged their attackers not to kill him. The surviving boy said that before they killed him, the father said, “I forgive you for the evil you have done to me.”
At that moment the 13 year-old boy tried to escape and his captors ran out of ammunition and were unable to shoot him. One of the men grabbed him by the neck and tried to strangle him.
Then they threw him in a car and drove to a nearby bridge, where they tossed him over the side. The boy fell 65 feet onto the weeds. Believing him to be dead, the two men left him there.
“He told us he landed on his back and that he lost his breath and was in so much pain he couldn’t move or breathe,” Mendez explained. “Then he fell asleep and when he awoke something told him to get up and walk. He found the strength to climb up to the street.”
After police found him, he was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. “Thanks for saving my life,” the boy said.
“We tried to calm him down,” Mendez recounted. “He asked us at one point: ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I told him, ‘Perhaps the prayers you mother told you say and your faith kept you alive. You had to survive somehow so that justice could be done, even though we don’t understand it’,” Mendez told him.