Fear of deportation, accompanied by deep financial problems, may have led a Weston businessman to kill his wife and teenage son, then drive to Tallahassee where he unsuccessfully tried to murder his older son, then killed himself, authorities said Thursday.
“His Visa had expired and he was facing financial problems,’’ John Curcio, Broward Sheriff’s Office homicide detective, said of Pedro Jose Maldonado Sr..
One hint of the family’s financial distress: In early 2013, a court ordered Maldonado and his wife, Monica Narvaez-Maldonado, to pay $3,600 in back rent on their former residence on Peppertree Drive in Weston, which they did.
Maldonado’s rampage began Monday or early Tuesday morning, when he armed himself with a hand-held crossbow — one of at least three in the house — and fired fatal darts at his 47-year-old wife and his 17-year-old namesake, Pedro Jose Maldonado Jr.
Both victims were found laying in bed, in their respective bedrooms, and were possibly killed as they slept, although authorities were still piecing together the timeline, Curcio said. There was no sign of a struggle.
Afterward, Maldonado, 53, drove 400-plus miles to Tallahassee, where his elder son, Jose Maldonado, 21, was a student at Florida State. He confronted the son, authorities said, and fired a dart that struck the young man’s ear. His father then tried to choke him, but the son managed to escape. He did not call police, so it wasn’t until his father called a friend in Miami about 4 p.m. Tuesday to tell them what he had done that anyone knew anything was amiss, authorities said.
The bodies were discovered a short while later, and a manhunt was launched for Maldonado.
About 2 a.m. Wednesday, authorities found Maldonado Sr.’s body in a Lake City motel room, dead after apparently cutting his own throat, BSO said.
Curcio declined to reveal whether Maldonado left a suicide note.
A search of records showed that there was no effort under way to deport Maldonado or his wife.
But documents obtained by the Miami Herald show that his wife had engaged in an excruciating back and forth with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s immigration services over minute details involving her business dealings. Narvaez-Maldonado, an officer in a firm called Business International Corp., had been trying to replace her expired visa on the basis that she was a “multi-national executive or manager.” She produced company profiles, deeds, organizational charts and other documents. Whatever was submitted, it wasn’t enough, and the extended stay permission was repeatedly rejected, records show.
In August, they were so desperate that one of Maldonado’s business partners, Dimitrios Tomaras, reached out to his ex-wife, Carole Tomaras, to see if she had any ideas on how to help. Carol Tomaras, who now lives in Arizona, was once politically active in Palm Beach County politics.
But she said there was nothing she could do.
“Ok, you’re afraid you’re going to be deported, but why would you wipe out your whole family?’’ she said Thursday.
The Maldonados’ elder son was doing “remarkably well,’’ given the gravity of what happened, Curcio said.
“He is 21. It’s a huge tragedy.’’
The Maldonados were natives of Ecuador who lived in a quiet townhouse community in The Courtyard at the Grove in Weston. Neighbors described them as keeping to themselves, though Pedro Jr. was well-liked at Cypress Bay High, where he was a senior and played drums in the school band.
“They were very devoted parents,’’ Carole Tomaras said.
She said Narvaez-Maldonado grew up in an upper-middle-class family, most of whom still live in Ecuador.
“Monica talked about Ecuador. She missed it deeply. She would have liked to go back, but it was hard because her kids had become Americanized,” Tomaras said.
“She had a different life here. She went from living in a big house with maids and nannies in Ecuador to a small townhouse here.’’
The wife was a consultant for oil companies in Ecuador, said Dani Moschella, a BSO spokeswoman.
Maldonado also appears as vice president of Solaris Energy US, a company doing business on oil and oil-related products. The couple also held various positions in other inactive companies.
Tomaras said she had heard that Maldonado didn’t want to return to Ecuador because some of his business dealings in his native country went sour, but she never discussed his immigration issues with him.
Authorities said Maldonado was in the import-export business, mainly shipping police equipment such as pistol belts but not weapons to Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Tomaras said she wasn’t acquainted with either Maldonado’s or her ex-husband’s businesses.
Although she also worked, Narvaez-Maldonado lived for her children, Tomaras said. Both of her sons were musically gifted and Tomaras and her then-husband once accompanied the couple to one of their sons’ band competitions.
Eduardo Rivadeneira, Ecuador’s consul general in Miami, said the surviving son has no other relatives in the United States and that the consulate will pay for repatriating the bodies if Jose decides that they should be taken to Ecuador.
The consul general said that an account number will be released Friday for those who wish to make donations to financially help Jose. Meanwhile, he said, people can deposit donations at the consulate to be delivered to Jose.
“We are supporting him unconditionally,” Rivadeneira said. “It’s all very painful and sad.”
The consul said that if Jose decides to stay in the United States, the consulate will contact attorneys to advise him on the legalities.
“He is here by himself,” Rivadeneira said.
“They just lived for their kids,” Tomaras said. “That’s what’s so mind-boggling.’’