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Local teen found slain: Cops seek justice for Juarez

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Caldwell County residents can count on less than one hand, the times they have faced the prospect of a murder in the last decade.

But even that handful of slayings will not mar the community the way the death of 19-year-old has. Those deaths, somehow related to other crimes, to long-standing family

altercations, or to domestic violence, somehow can’t quite compare to the death of a young girl, last seen sleeping in her parents’ home, and found some seven hours later, lifeless in a field.

Emilia always knew she would make history. She seemed to be born to make a mark.

This was never the mark she intended, nor is it the mark her parents hope the community will carry with them.

“I want people to remember Emilia,” mother Blanca Juarez said, during an exclusive interview on Tuesday morning. “I don’t want people to think, ‘that girl that the thing happened to.’ I want them to remember…. I want them to remember her smile.”

That smile was infectious, by all accounts. At times, her parents admit, the smile hid her personal sadness and troubles, but it was always her smile, and her spirit, that reached out to those around her.

As the news of Emilia’s death spread around the community last week, many friends, and even teachers, took to social media to remember the spunky, outspoken whip of a girl, as kind as she was driven, and as beautiful as she was outspoken.

“If she wanted something, she was going to have it,” her father Emilio said. “If we couldn’t get it for her, she would go to her grandparents, or she would work for it, but she was always going to get what she wanted.”

work for it, but she was always going to get what she wanted.”

A child of many skills, Emilia’s main drive was being a caretaker – for her parents, for her nieces, her siblings. On the morning of her death, she had a date with her father, in fact, to go register at Austin Community College, where she hoped to study psychology and criminal justice.

“She wanted to study that, so she could understand what makes people do the things they do,” Blanca said. “Maybe she wanted to do that so she could stop it from happening. But that was what she wanted. That’s what she was interested in.”

After her graduation from Lockhart Pride High at age 17, Emilia convinced her parents to allow her to take what Europeans call a “gap year,” to focus on fun, rather than going directly to college.

“She didn’t have kids, and she didn’t have any real responsibilities, so she just wanted to take a little time to be young and have fun,” Blanca said. “She wanted to be young, and be able to get up and go to on trips or whatever she wanted to do, before she had all that responsibility on her.”

In retrospect, the grieving parents are grateful they allowed their daughter the leeway to live a life of leisure.

“She never would have had that, if I had been more strict or if I had told her she had to go straight to college,” Blanca said.

Not that it would have mattered, if her parents forbade her or not. Emilia had a way, from when she was small, of making sure that her independent streak, was clear.

“When she was in kindergarten and [her brother] was in Pre-K, she’d walk him to his class and then walk to hers,” Emilio said. “And sometimes in the middle of the day she’d just get up and say ‘I have to go check on my brother.’ She’d go, look into his class and then she’d just go back to her classroom like it was nothing.”

They said she wanted to make sure her “Baby Brother” was behaving, doing his work, and living up to her always-high expectations.

“They don’t just let kids out of class to go do whatever,” Blanca said. “But even then, even when she was little, she had that determination of ‘I’m going to do this, and this is what I’m going to do, and you’re not going to stop me.’”

Rarely, if ever, did her teachers try to stop her. Perhaps they were too charmed by her infectious smile, perhaps taken in by her sweet soul – either way, if the world was a tiger, Emilia had it by the tail.

Still, she had decided in recent weeks that she had her fill of the partying, free-wheeling lifestyle – she was ready to buckle down and get down to business.

“She was done with all of that,” Blanca said. “She had decided, just only a few weeks ago, that it was time for her to make a change, to give her life to God, and to start seeking her education. She got her time in that partying and free life, and she was ready to live her life with purpose.”

Indeed, she had made arrangements with her father to register in classes at ACC the morning of her death, and had been scheduled to be baptized on Sunday.

“The problem she always had with God was that she couldn’t understand the bad things,” Blanca said. “She didn’t know why, if God was a loving God, He wouldn’t come down and stop it…. She wanted to learn about why people did those bad things; she wanted to understand them.”

Ultimately, it was the things Emilia wanted to learn about and understand that cost Emilia her life.

Even so, despite her knowledge of the bad things in life, Emilia always tried to embrace, and work toward the good.

“Someone came to us at the fundraiser on Saturday,” Emilio said. “She told us that she never actually met our daughter, but she watched her at the Little League field. There was a boy, a mentally handicapped boy, who wanted to play with the other kids, and they didn’t want to play with him… She watched it, and then went over and said, ‘Hi,’ and started talking to him. She asked him to come sit with her, and this woman said she saw that, and had just wanted to say ‘thank you,’ but she didn’t want to interrupt them.”

“I remember that,” Blanca said. “I saw that boy. I went over to ask her how she and [her nieces] were, and she said, ‘Mom, this is my new friend.’ They were listening to music. She had ear buds and she was listening to one and he had the other ear bud and was listening with her.”

“We might never know,” Emilio said, “what that meant to that boy that day. But she didn’t care what the other kids thought, she didn’t care about what anyone said about her. She just … she made friends with him.”

The last time either of her parents saw her, Emilia was curled up in bed, sleeping, the night before she was found dead on Jolley Road. Both are hesitant to discuss that last evening, or the information they have received from the investigation.

“I know that, before I went to bed, she asked me if I wanted her to cook me anything, and I said ‘No, but clean up your mess,’” Emilio said. Apparently, Emilia’s talents did not extend to cooking. “I went to sleep, and I got up and checked, and she was sleeping.”

Details are short on how Emilia came to be found in a field on Jolley Road, off FM 2720 near dawn on Thursday. The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department is investigating her death as a homicide. Late on Tuesday evening, the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, powered by the US Marshal Service, announced an offer of a $2,000 reward to anyone coming forward with information leading to the arrest of suspects involved in the slaying.

Anyone with information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Emilia Juarez is encouraged to contact the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 398-6777.

 

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