He slept on the couch most nights, though sometimes he slept next to his mother in the only bed in the apartment.
“They lived in their own world,” said the mother’s relative, who asked not to be identified. “She adored her son. To her, he was such a good young man, he loved her so much.”
Twelve numbered Post-it notes found in Vargas’ apartment last week appeared to be a storyboard, perhaps for his planned screenplay.
“Louie’s home,” one of them says. “Very Spartan. Louie f--- the whore ... Louie ask her to stay she refuses unless he pays for the rest of the night. Louie insults her.”
Though Vargas dreamed of buying his own house, the relative said, he didn’t want to leave his mother, particularly after she had knee surgery. Yet she had been on a Miami-Dade waiting list for public housing for herself since 2008, records show, and had applied for housing assistance on seven occasions in Hialeah since 1996, wanting her son to build his own life.
Bank statements obtained by El Nuevo Herald show Vargas had more than $92,000 in a savings account a year ago. But he lived poorly in a dingy apartment with aged furniture and often wore dirty clothes to the several local LA Fitness gyms he frequented to lift weights for hours.
A gym acquaintance, Jorge Bagos, said the bald Vargas once complained he lost his hair through steroid use. A toxicology screen performed as part of his autopsy is pending.
Vargas had a concealed weapons permit and owned a Glock 9mm semiautomatic pistol he carried with him when he drove at night, he said in the deposition. He didn’t explain where he went, noting only that he did not frequent bars.
His career at Miami Dade College went smoothly at first, according to his personnel file, which includes his Cuban and American college transcripts. In work references, colleagues described Vargas as hard-working and talented.
“Pedro’s work is top-notch,” wrote one of his graphic design instructors, Elio Arteaga.
Arteaga, who now works at DeVry University in Broward, remembered Friday that one assignment required students to design a “DVD interface” for a movie of their choice. Vargas picked The Matrix and designed realistic illustrations of its characters.
But despite his talent, said Arteaga, who was visited Thursday evening by Hialeah police digging into Vargas’ past, Vargas “was a little bit socially awkward.”
Other co-workers called Vargas quiet and buff, often drinking protein shakes at lunch.
Vargas’ performance evaluations were positive until his last year on the job, when a new supervisor wrote that Vargas was difficult to work with.
He “lacks social skills,” Elmo Lugo wrote. “It is hard for him to accept change.”
Vargas responded with a letter saying his job description had been unfairly expanded to include managerial work. Attached were three emails from MDC employees who lauded Vargas’ graphic design work.
‘A 2nd personality’
But Vargas didn’t get along with everybody, said Nick Murrell, who used to organize special MDC events for which Vargas designed printed materials.
“He was always very cordial to me, very polite, very respectable,” Murrell said. But with colleagues he didn’t care for, Vargas could be “abrasive, rude and curt.”