When Amaury Alvarenga returned to her Little Havana apartment from an errand Sunday afternoon, she found her 11-year-old daughter Martha lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor with a knife in her throat.
“I held her in my arms and snatched the knife from her throat to see if that would help her breathe,” said Alvarenga, who choked back with tears as she talked about her daughter. “Her body was hot and cold, and her legs were hard, hard, hard.”
Rescue workers quickly arrived and rushed the child to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The child’s forearm veins were cut and there was a bruise on her lips.
“The doctor said that she was already dead when she arrived,” Alvarenga said. “There was nothing they could do.”
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The case is still under investigation and no one has been arrested, said Miami police spokesperson Kenia Reyes. The exact cause of Martha’s death is still unknown, Reyes said.
Meanwhile, both Alvarenga and Martha’s father, Jorge Guzmán, are trying to find out details about their daughter’s death.
Guzmán, who traveled on Sunday from his home in Jacksonville, accompanied Alvarenga to the apartment on Tuesday. He fell to his knees, crying, when he saw his daughter’s bloodstains on the living room floor.
“Why? Why?” he screamed while scraping at the stains with his fingers.
Martha’s parents describe her as a responsible, happy and pretty girl, though the family said she had some emotional problems.
The mother said she sought help for Martha for cutting her arms and thighs with razors. She rejects the possibility that her daughter may have committed suicide.
“People say she committed suicide, but my daughter did not have the courage to commit suicide,” she said. “It’s not the same for a child to cut her arms ... I took her to the doctor and the doctor talked to her and she said she would never do it again.”
The family had a history with the Florida Department of Children and Families and the agency opened an investigation into Martha’s death as soon as the incident was reported, a spokesperson said.
The girl’s death shocked neighbors in the modest four-unit building, many of whom knew her since she was a baby and lovingly called her “Martica.”
Mayra Vilar said her granddaughter and Martha were good friends. Both were in sixth grade at the Lincoln-Martí School, a few blocks from the building.
“She was an innocent girl,” Vilar said. “We all loved her and we are very saddened by this.” said Vilar.
On Tuesday, Martha’s friends kept relighting two flickering candles at her door after the breeze blew them out.
Funeral services were on Wednesday and the family plans to take Martha’s body back to Honduras, the parents’ native country.
Reporters Carli Teproff, Alexandra Torrealba and Carol Marbin Miller contributed to this report.