The Dead Among Us

One week of living and dying in Miami-Dade.

When Richmond returned home, her mother told her that Junior had been shot. Later that evening, a North Miami homicide detective visited Richmond and broke the tragic news. She says the police believe her son was killed sometime between 10 p.m. February 26 and 5 a.m. February 27. "A woman found Markey's body in an apartment in North Miami," Richmond says. "I don't know who the woman is or how Markey ended up there."

North Miami Police spokesman Lt. Bill Cuevas declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

More than a month after Saintil's death, there are still no leads. "When I found out my son had been shot dead, I was shocked," Richmond says. "I've seen stories about other people's children getting killed so many times on the television news, but I never thought I would experience it."

Ghislene Richmond says her son Markey Saintil Jr. (left) enjoyed downloading music and playing basketball with his cousins.
Courtesy of the Saintil family
Ghislene Richmond says her son Markey Saintil Jr. (left) enjoyed downloading music and playing basketball with his cousins.

Richmond, a petite, soft-spoken woman with dark brown braids brushing past her shoulders, sits on a beige living room sofa, flanked by her mother, nephew, and niece. They don't say a word as the 38-year-old divorced mom recalls Saintil's life. "My son had a very calm temperament," she says, her eyes welling up with tears. "He was the type of kid who would walk away from a confrontation."

Born June 16, 1989, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Saintil was the oldest of six siblings. According to Richmond, her son enjoyed downloading music on his computer and playing basketball. Saintil did not graduate from high school, but on March 31, 2008, he earned a GED from Continental Academy, an online school. "He was so happy," Richmond notes. "He had a sense of accomplishment that he could go to college if he wanted to."

She pulls out three notebook-size printouts bearing images of Saintil, a wiry young man who weighed 145 pounds and stood five feet seven inches tall. In one photograph, a beaming Saintil clasps his hands as he sits on a park bench. He sports a pair of baggy jean shorts, a polo shirt, and a fresh pair of red and white Air Jordans. He has a handsome grin, expressive brown eyes, and a pointy, bushy goatee.

This past March 7, Richmond buried her son. "I don't have a reward to give," she says, "but if anyone has information on Markey's murder, I would love if they came forward. My son did not deserve to die the way he did."

Cause of death: gunshot wound to the head

3:28 p.m., Homestead

On the nights she didn't wait tables at the Farmers' Market Restaurant, Jacqueline Folden would indulge in a glass of red wine. The 72-year-old widow came to south Florida from Massachusetts about 60 years ago. She never had any children and lived alone at 15321 SW 297th Ter. According to an unnamed friend, Folden had a hysterectomy, but other than that, she refused to see a doctor — even when she was vomiting and had diarrhea for three days straight. The friend found Folden lying on her bed. Fire-rescue personnel pronounced her dead at the scene. She had been deceased for at least five hours.

Cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease

FEBRUARY 28

11:25 p.m., North Miami

A resident of the Portofino apartment complex at 14050 Biscayne Blvd. called 911 to report a shooting after she heard a loud boom. Several police cruisers descended on the parking lot near the entrance of the building. A young black man lay motionless on the ground. His black T-shirt and blue jeans were soaked in blood. He was Brandon Ledford, a 20-year-old waiter from Titusville who was in town visiting friends. According to the police report, pal Caterine Aguilera told homicide detectives that she, Ledford, and six other friends had been hanging out, drinking, and smoking marijuana. She said Ledford was acting weird and she advised him to take a nap. Another friend told the cops Ledford said, "I think I'm gonna kill myself." A few moments later, Ledford jumped from the balcony. The loud boom the resident reported was possibly the sound of the young man striking the pavement.

For his obituary that appeared in Florida Today, his mother wrote, "Brandon was truly the best child any mother could ever hope for. He was honest and thoughtful. He supported his friends and family in every decision they made. He loved everyone in his life openly and full-heartedly. He will be missed more than words can express."

Cause of death: multiple blunt-force injuries

MARCH 1

10:28 a.m., West Miami

Rodolfo Lopez was living with his niece, Jeanette Lobo, at her third-floor apartment in a building at 3561 SW 11th7 Ave. when around 5 a.m., they began to argue over his attempt to buy cocaine a few days earlier. The 38-year-old day laborer had just relocated to Miami from Chicago. He was depressed about being unemployed and his pending divorce. It didn't help that he was addicted to cocaine. Lobo went to bed, and when she woke up, she found Lopez on the couch. He had a gun on his chest and a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

New Times recently visited Lobo's apartment, located in a complex of similar-looking eggshell-colored buildings near Florida's Turnpike. Two burly men who spoke only Spanish were removing boxes full of clothes from the unit. They claimed they did not know Lobo or about Lopez's suicide. "The young lady," one said, "she moved out."

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