When Valerie Reyes didn’t show up for her work shift at Barnes & Noble on Jan. 29, her friends and family knew something was wrong. On the previous day, the 24-year-old from New Rochelle, New York, spoke to her mother on the phone and told her that she was afraid someone was going to kill her. She didn’t specify who, but her mother said her daughter was frightened. A week later, on Feb. 5, police officials were informed about a dead body that was found with their hands and feet bound, inside a suitcase on the side of the road. Police identified the body as Reyes.
“My daughter did not deserve whatever you did to her,” Norma Sanchez, Reyes’ mother, said during a vigil in New Rochelle on Feb. 7, according to The Rockland/Westchester Journal News. “My daughter was pure. My daughter was a good soul. You will get caught.”
According to reporter Hannah Dellinger — who tweeted a timeline of the events before her disappearance, one day before going missing, the young woman feared for her death. The next day she didn’t go to work. According to a friend, Reyes took her iPhone, iPad, clothes, and bed sheets, with her. On the following day, Jan. 30, surveillance video showed Reyes in Manhattan at 2 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., at a Chase Bank near Radio City Music Hall.
“She was going on about how frightened she was in that apartment,” her mother told the New York Times. “She was hearing about all these murders of women. ‘I just can’t get it out of my head,'” her daughter said to her and added “‘I feel like somebody’s going to murder me.'”
Though she never specified anyone, in particular, just a general cause for concern. Her mother added that while she was missing for a week, her friends and family “were hoping that maybe she just wanted to isolate herself and be alone.” Her neighbors describe Reyes as an “effervescent, friendly, and happy young woman.”
A cause of death has yet to be determined, and the investigation remains ongoing.
“Our heart is broken for the unfortunate and tragic loss of Valerie Reyes,” a statement read on a GoFundMe page set up in her name. “We want to show our love, support, and condolences to the Reyes family. Besides showing emotional support, we are asking friends and family to share and help them out with costs to lay her to rest. All donations big or small are appreciated and helpful. Let’s keep the Reyes family in our prayers during this difficult time.”