The Dead Among Us

One week of living and dying in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade criminal court records show the 28-year-old South Miami High alum had gotten into some trouble over the past ten years. When he was 20 years old, Arias was arrested December 26, 2001, at Bayside Marketplace for misdemeanor simple battery. On March 31, 2002, he was collared for third-degree felony grand theft auto. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office dropped the case. On July 25, 2007, cops nabbed him for drinking in public. That case was also dismissed.

Hernandez believes Arias was a victim of a botched burglary. "I think they broke in and didn't expect to find someone in there," he says. "It's a shame. He had just celebrated his only daughter's first birthday."

On the steps leading to the home's entrance, the family set up a small memorial with two religious candles, a vase of dried flowers, a 32-ounce bottle of Presidente beer, and a 16-ounce bottle of Corona.

In the back yard, a soft wind moves the two swings on a faded wood playground set.

Cause of death: multiple stab wounds

FEBRUARY 25

5:50 a.m., Palmetto Bay

Pablo Josue Amador arrived home sometime around 5:45 that morning. His 16-year-old son, Javier, was in his room, getting ready for school, when he heard gunshots. Amador entered Javier's room, said "I love you," and fired one shot at the boy. The bullet missed. Amador placed the gun to his own head and fired, killing himself. Javier then went to check on his mother, Maria, and his two younger sisters, 14-year-old Priscila and 13-year-old Rosa. He discovered they had all been shot dead. His older sister, Beula Beatriz, a 20-year-old University of Miami student, was not home.

By all accounts, Pablo Josue Amador was a soulful man. The 53-year-old music teacher had been a tenor with Florida Grand Opera and taught piano lessons to the neighborhood children. He was also a musical director, arranger, and vocalist for Los Galileos, a six-member ensemble that included his children. The group had performed in dozens of churches around South Florida since 2001. Maria Amador was education director at the University of Miami's Project to Cure Paralysis. The Amadors' four-bedroom house featured two detached structures that were used as music studios. The residence was filled with multiple musical instruments, including guitars and keyboards.

Hours before being killed, 14-year-old Priscila wrote on her MySpace page: "It's over, I'm free," according to the medical examiner's investigations memo. Days later, the Miami Herald reported allegations by two of Priscila's classmates that her father had been molesting her since she was a young girl. The tenor's daughter had also penned a letter to a friend that allegedly described the abuse. Miami-Dade homicide detectives have not publicly released the contents of the letter and have not confirmed the sex abuse accusations.

This past March 4, hundreds of relatives and friends attended the funeral for the four slain Amador family members. The service was held at Christ Fellowship Church at 8900 SW 168th St. in Palmetto Bay. Javier, the lone survivor in the house that day, sat at a piano and played a tender melody eulogizing his family. When he finished, the young man walked off the stage without saying a word.

Causes of death: gunshot wounds to the head

10:23 a.m., West Miami

Luis Fors came to Miami from Cuba in 1973 and spent his days working as a truck driver. He was married, but the 73-year-old widower never had any children. Recently, Fors had become depressed because of Alzheimer's, dementia, and diabetes. Since July 2008, he had resided at Blessing House One, an assisted living facility at 14350 SW 29th St. Fors had wandered off the property on two previous occasions, but he was always found. However, after he disappeared this past February 22, his nephew, Jorge Pino, filed a missing person's report with Miami-Dade Police. Two days later, Fors's brother-in-law spotted a body floating in a canal near Blessing House. Police divers retrieved the dead male. Pino and a driver's license confirmed it was Fors.

Cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease and terminal submersion

7:52 p.m., Homestead

Robert Chase lived by himself in a trailer at 601 NW Third Ave. that his ex-wife's new husband purchased for him. The 64-year-old Englishman was a U.S. citizen who served in the Army. Chase was retired and living off of his social security check. He smoked a lot of cigarettes and drank a lot of booze. According to a Miami-Dade Police report, Chase talked about smoking marijuana, but no one ever saw him light up a joint. Chase was taking aspirin as well as nine prescription meds. He was last seen alive February 23. Two days later, Homestead Police officers forced their way into his trailer. They found him naked inside the bathtub. He was not breathing. Cigarette butts and empty beer bottles littered the home.

Cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease

FEBRUARY 27

5 a.m., North Miami

A woman called 911 to report a dead body inside a one-bedroom apartment in a building in North Miami. Markey Saintil Jr. had been shot once in the head. Fire-rescue and North Miami homicide detectives pronounced Saintil dead at the scene. His mother, Ghislene Richmond, had last seen her 19-year-old son February 25. Sometime after 3 p.m., Richmond was renewing her driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles office at 7900 NW 27th Ave. when she received a call from her mother. "She told me that something had happened to Junior," Richmond says.

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