Monday night’s somber, tearful wake for Jennifer Alfonso — shot dead last Thursday by her husband, who then posted a photo of her bloody corpse on Facebook — was a sea of white.
The deceased wore white in a matching white casket. Many of her friends and relatives were similarly attired.
The color was requested by Alfonso herself. According to one of her sisters, who did not want to be identified by name, Alfonso had long feared that her husband, Derek Medina, might do her harm. Theirs was a volatile relationship — they had once divorced only to quickly remarry.
In the event of her death, Alfonso had specified that she be laid in her casket all in white, so as to honor the archangel Gabriel. And that the mourners also wear white.
Those who knew of her request obliged.
Alfonso’s 31-year-old husband spent the day in the jail-issued clothing, having been charged with first-degree murder. He announced last Thursday on his Facebook page that he had killed her, posting the photo as proof before turning himself in at the South Miami police station. The photograph remained visible to all on the social network before Facebook, alerted to its presence, shut down the page.
Many had still not gotten over the shock as they arrived at the Memorial Plan Funeral Home on Palm Avenue in Hialeah for the wake. The memorial drew scores of friends, relatives and co-workers, including staff from the Denny’s Restaurant where she worked as a waitress and was known as a friendly, caring colleague. Co-workers said they were aware that she had been physically bullied by her husband.
A television screen at the front of the funeral home flashed snapshots from Alfonso’s life, including photos from the baby shower that preceded the birth of her now-10-year-old daughter from an earlier relationship.
Meanwhile, on Facebook, a memorial page honoring Alfonso made its debut. A lively, colorful celebration of her 26 years, it overflowed with pictures — of Alfonso in her wedding dress, of the young mom nibbling on a salad, of the beaming young woman alongside her proud mother — and with heartfelt words from those who knew her, and even those who didn’t, but were deeply affected by the circumstances of her death.
It was also a forum for venting anger and frustration with Medina, the hulking husband who is being held without bond. Medina’s family has suggested that she had pushed him over the edge with physical and emotional abuse. The Alfonso family had stayed silent. Until the memorial page went up and the floodgates opened.
One message, in bold lettering, was bigger than the rest:
“Hello to all of you,” it said. “My name is Carol and I’m Jennifer’s mother. My words fail me as I am completely broken to be without my sweet, beautiful girl. I had to take a moment though to send my love to every one of you. God bless you all for honoring my daughter. If you could have known her, you would have loved her even more. She was a beautiful girl with an even more beautiful soul. She will live in my heart forever.”
Another message — from Tony Alfonso, relationship to the victim unspecified — was more succinct.
“He got his 15 min of fame,” wrote Alfonso. “Jenny’s story will live on forever!”