When Vilet took up selling insurance and other financial products with Primerica on the side, Cid got himself licensed to do the same, at the same company, said Manny Menendez, who worked with her there.
“She was my top person on my team for a long time,” Menendez said. As for Cid, he never made a sale.
When Cid wasn’t around, his wife opened up about life at home with him.
“Before, it was he treated her bad. And then it was he hit her. And then it was he choked me a couple times. And then I hear the stuff she told her other friends that was even worse,” Menendez said. “I talked to her a week before she disappeared. I told her to divorce him. I said ‘This isn’t gonna turn out good for you.’ ”
THE BEST FRIEND
In March 2002, the Torrezes bought a home — a yellow, two-story townhouse on a quiet street in Miramar’s Harbour Lakes Estates community.
There were parks nearby, other young families around them and plenty of shopping and good schools within a short drive.
Cid started a trucking business, first called White Towers Investments, later Elite Carriers. Cid did the driving, her family said, and Vilet acted as bookkeeper, contract handler and even helped with directions, her sister said.
The company had one or two trucks. They got work by going out for bids on websites that connect carriers with shippers and later picked up more work through referrals, Cid’s brother Douglas said.
As the business continued, their family grew. Little Vilet gained a brother, named Cid. And Vilet befriended another neighborhood mom, Clarissa Garcia.
Garcia, a registered nurse for more than two decades, knew her best friend was an abused woman. She recognized the black eyes, bruises and excuses. But no matter what Garcia said, Vilet Torrez couldn’t break free from her husband.
“I told her, let’s go downtown and get you a restraining order. Let’s call in a police report,” Garcia said. “But it was always ‘no, he’ll get angrier’ or ‘he loves me’ or ‘I’m his only family.’”
Douglas Torrez refuses to believe that his sister-in-law would allow herself to be hit and never call the cops or tell either family about it.
“She was always outspoken and said what was on her mind,” he said.
POWER AND CONTROL
Was Vilet Torrez a battered woman?
Only two people know for certain: one is missing, the other sits in jail.
But Leisa Wiseman, a spokeswoman for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said it’s not uncommon for victims to not seek out help.
The batterer may threaten to kill the victim or hurt their children — or convince the victim that nobody will care. An abuser will isolate a victim from their family, adding to the abuser’s control and making it harder for the victim to break free.
Adding to the difficulty, Wiseman said, is that the person administering the abuse is also a person the victim loves.
” she said. “And you love this person, you want to believe they’ll get better.”
Cid’s defense lawyer, Richard Della Fera, discounts the stories of Garcia, other friends of Vilet and her family, saying he believes there was no violence in the marriage. Where are the restraining orders, the phone calls to 911 from the Miramar home, Della Fera asked.