It was Feb. 24, girls’ night out. Best friends Vilet Torrez and Clarissa Garcia went out to the Cheesecake Factory, where they ordered drinks and split a slice of cheesecake.
They laughed and chatted and caught up on the things best friends talk about over drinks and desserts: their families, their children, their marriages.
And, yet again, Garcia advised her friend she had to leave her husband.
She was tired of hearing the stories of how Cid Torrez beat her and then swore every time afterward he would never do it again. She was sick of seeing Vilet with bruises.
“What’s it gonna take? Your death? A casket?” Garcia asked.
“Oh, my good friend, he wouldn’t do that,” Torrez said.
Torrez went missing five weeks later.
Friends, family and former co-workers of Torrez all believe her husband, Cid, is behind her disappearance. Miramar police and prosecutors agreed and — despite the lack of a body, or an eyewitness, or a weapon — charged the 39-year-old with murder. Such murder charges don’t always stick, as evidenced by the just-completed murder trial of Geralyn Wilson, foster mother of Rilya Wilson. It was another case of no body, no witnesses, no murder weapon. Geralyn Wilson was convicted of lesser charges.
Cid’s family expressed disbelief that he would harm, much less kill and dispose of, the mother of his three children, although they acknowledged the marriage had turned toxic.
Cid Torrez has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial in a Broward jail.
A NEW COUNTRY
Vilet’s disappearance — and presumed death — brought a sudden and nightmarish end to a life that, from the outside, looked like a South Florida variation of the American dream, the kind of success story that reaffirms the belief that anybody with enough determination can flourish in the United States.
Born Vilet Blanco, she came with her family from Nicaragua to Hialeah when she was 15. None of them spoke English. Vilet learned the language at warp speed and excelled enough at Miami Springs Senior High School to get several college scholarships.
Vilet and Cid, also from Nicaragua, started going out during her junior year of high school and never stopped, except for a brief college breakup.
From that point on, Vilet’s world was Cid.
Vilet Torrez graduated from the University of Miami in 1997, with a major in advertising, got a job and, a year later, married Cid — on Aug. 8, 1998. It was a small ceremony in Hialeah. The honeymoon was quick, since Cid was being deployed in a matter of days for a tour that would take him to Japan, Guam, Indonesia and Australia.
Weeks later, Vilet learned she was pregnant.
When Cid came back to the United States, he was sent to North Carolina, joined by his wife and their first-born, a daughter also named Vilet.
In about a year, Cid had left the Marines and they were back in South Florida, living in the Blanco family home in Hialeah.
They fought frequently, Vilet’s family recalled, and Cid sometimes ended up sleeping in the car. But Vilet had seen her parents separation when she was a child and was determined not to do the same.
“I am not going to let him go like you did with my dad,” Vilet told her mother, Gladys Blanco.
Upon the family’s return, the boyfriend of Vilet’s sister Nayiva helped Vilet get a job where he had worked. Soon he started telling Nayiva stories he was hearing from former coworkers about how Cid would show up at work, unannounced, just checking in on his wife.