Rose-Marie Lindor seeks justice.
The soft-spoken mother from Haiti gently tells the story of her 20-year old daughter Rooldine, who was tied up with rope, raped and stabbed in the Dominican Republic. Her body was found July 12 in an abandoned house in Hipodromo, a neighborhood in Santo Domingo.
“She was my best friend,” Lindor said. “She loved her family and she loved to learn.”
Rooldine’s murder became a rallying cry for the Haitian community in Santo Domingo, which has taken to Facebook and Youtube to focus attention on the case. Her killing underscored the tense relations between Dominicans and Haitians in the Dominican Republic, where animosity goes back centuries. Haitians there fear anti-immigrant fervor could take center stage over justice.
Wednesday morning, Lindor spoke out in Miami to ask for support. She fears her daughter’s alleged assailants, two of whom are being held in a Dominican jail, may be set free.
With her eyes cast down, Lindor said in Creole that she spoke with her daughter the morning of the murder. Rooldine was apartment-hunting for a larger space to accommodate her three younger brothers who were going to join her in August to attend school in the Dominican Republic. Rooldine was in her second year studying computer science at the Santiago University of Technology.
Following the tragic Jan. 12 earthquake, Lindor decided to send her sons to the Dominican Republic for them to have a stable learning environment.
Lindor said her daughter went to put a $500 down payment on a lease when Eddy Starling Mendoza Ramos, the man who purported to own the apartment, abducted her. The suspect, whose father was the apartment caretaker, confessed that he killed Rooldine in a quest to steal from her, the family’s attorney, Bárbara Suárez, said by phone from Santo Domingo.
Mendoza and an alleged co-conspirator, Rafael Roberto Arias Garcia, are awaiting trial.
“The next day I went to the Dominican Republic and they took me to where they found her,” Lindor said. “They tied her neck with a rope, they raped her and they stabbed her in the belly.”
Ban Mwen Dwam International, a Haitian civic organization based in Maryland, launched a social media campaign to spread the word about the college student’s death. The group also helped bring Lindor to the United States to receive grief counseling and to meet with members of the diaspora.
“We are not saying Dominicans are indiscriminately attacking our people, but we want them to know we have a diaspora, and we are watching,” said Riddler Dorcily, chairman of Ban Mwen Dwam.
On Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, members of the Haitian community are demanding “justice for Rooldine.” One Facebook page has nearly 5,000 supporters.
“This case has gotten a lot of attention because it’s another murder of a woman in a country where about 130 women are killed monthly,” Suárez said. “I cannot say she was killed because she was an immigrant. And I have to be honest: The Dominican authorities have done everything possible to investigate and make arrests. Other cases have not gotten this kind of attention.”
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