The cheesecake choker

My poor sister was in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Published by: Laura Hinton and Henry Austin
Published on: 22 November 2012

No matter how many times I searched my wardrobe, I couldn't find it. ‘Have you seen my new blue top?' I asked my sister Fabianna, 18. She was lying on her bed in the room we shared, reading a magazine.
‘I don't know what you're talking about,' she mumbled. ‘I haven't seen anything.'
‘Hmm, butter wouldn't melt...' I laughed, shaking my head. I didn't mind her borrowing my clothes, I just never seemed to get them back!
And - surprise, surprise - I reached under my bed a couple of days later and pulled out the top I'd been looking for. It was screwed up into a ball, as if someone had been trying to hide it.
‘Fabiana!' I yelled, marching downstairs with the top in my hands.
‘Oh, yeah...' she mumbled, all apologetic. ‘I'm sorry.'
I was about to go into one, but decided to hold my anger. ‘You won't be able to pinch my stuff for much longer anyway, little sis,'
I sighed, ruffling her hair. ‘So, I'll let you get away with it for now!'
‘Don't say that!' she said, sticking out her lower lip. ‘I'm going to miss you.' Despite her being a pain, I was going to miss her, too.
In a few days time, I'd be leaving home to go travelling for 18 months. I had friends in Utah, 2,000 miles away, and bar work lined up. It was time I saw a bit more of the world. I couldn't wait, but I was dreading saying goodbye to my family.
All too soon, we were gathered at the airport. It was 3am, but the whole family had come along, including my brothers, Carl and Ben.
‘Stay safe, love,' my mum Maria said, giving me a hug.
‘Yeah, have a good time,' Ben said, shuffling his feet.
Last to wish me goodbye was Fabiana. She looked so sad, bless her!
‘I'll only be gone 18 months,' I chuckled, wiping away her tears. ‘It's not like we won't speak to each other - I'll call and email all the time.'
‘I know,' she sniffed. ‘I'll just miss you.' Somehow, I managed to keep my tears in check until I was on the plane.
Even though I had a whale of a time, I made sure I kept in touch with everyone at home. I'd soon got into a routine of emailing Fabiana every Monday.
I've started work at a local car dealership, she wrote one day. I'm saving up so I can pay for a radiology course.
I smiled. She was forever changing her mind about what she wanted to do. Last I heard, she wanted to be a vet.
In other news, I've got a new boyfriend, she wrote. He's really cute, although, of course, Mum doesn't approve!
Typical Mum! When me and my boyfriend Steve had started dating, aged 16, Mum had always sent Fabiana off with us. ‘Does she have to come?' I'd groan.
‘I want to make sure there's no funny business going on,' Mum would cluck.
Fabiana would stand behind Mum, waggling her tongue at me.
As it happened, Steve's sister Emily was the same age as Fabiana, so while they did their thing, we did ours. We had quite a laugh really... we'd go to the cinema together and the girls would sit in the row behind, giggling at us.
I guess that's why I loved hearing about Fabiana's life - she made me feel young again. Over the next few months, I really looked forward to her updates. And, getting that email every Monday brought kind of a routine to my life.
One Monday, though, I was disappointed not to hear from her. Tossing and turning in bed all night, I realised I must be missing home. Brushing it off, I told myself I'd ring home in a couple of days.
Except, a couple of days down the line, Mum called me at the crack of dawn. ‘Everything okay?'
I asked. There was a pause, and she said nothing.
‘Mum,' I pushed. ‘What's up?'
‘Fabiana was abducted,' she suddenly blurted out. ‘She was taken from the garage where she was working...'
For a second, I thought she was joking.
‘I'm sorry, love,' Mum whispered, her voice breaking. ‘But Fabiana was murdered.'
Her words echoed round my head for a few moments.
‘What?' I said, shaking my head. ‘No, you're lying.' ‘It's true,' Mum sobbed. ‘She was on the phone to me when somebody came into the office. I hung up, not wanting her to get in trouble with the boss. But she never rang back...' As her voice trailed off, I lost the strength in my body to stand. This wasn't just some terrible dream. My poor little sister had been murdered.
‘Oh my god,' I sobbed, crumpling into a ball. ‘I'm coming home...'
Days later, I flew back to Orlando. I felt completely numb as I walked through the airport. Only months before, I'd been there, hugging Fabiana goodbye.
How could I have known that would be the last time I'd ever see her...
Running up to Mum, I saw she was a broken woman. ‘I shouldn't have hung up on her that day,' she wept, guilt written all over her face.
‘I left her alone to deal with that killer... if only I'd stayed on the phone. That's when he walked into the office.'
‘Please,' I cried, desperate to console her. ‘Just tell me what happened.'
‘I drove to the garage after work when I still couldn't get hold of Fabiana,' she spluttered, tears streaking down her cheeks.
Slowly, Mum explained that when she'd got there, Fabiana's boss, Alan, had been pacing the floor. He said he'd gone back after lunch to find the office door wide open. Like Fabiana had left in a hurry.
The last time he'd heard from her was when she'd rung about a client who'd come into the office. The client had asked about the paperwork for a car he'd bought the day before. While Mum and Alan had been deciding whether or not to call the police, Alan had spotted this man's car driving past. His suspicion rising, Alan rung the police. He'd then gone with them to follow the man, William Davis, in his car.
After chasing him down, Alan had confronted Davis about Fabiana's whereabouts. Davis had brazenly nodded towards his car.
‘That's when they found her body,' Mum sobbed. She was crying so much now that she was barely audible. ‘Fabiana was in the boot... he'd strangled her.'
Holding Mum close, I felt so incredibly weak. I was convinced that any second Fabiana would walk back into the house and everything would be okay.
My blood turned cold as it began to dawn on me that this wouldn't happen. My sister was really dead.
Soon, one miserable day blurred into the next. Before too long, Fabiana's funeral had arrived. Mum was a mess, and me... well, I tried to keep strong for all of us.
‘I love you, sis,' I whispered, throwing a red rose onto her coffin. ‘I wish I could have stopped this...'
I'd always felt the same urge to protect my sister, but I hadn't been able to when Fabiana needed me most.
Taking each day as it came, we could only wait for Davis' trial to begin. We knew that prosecutors were seeking the death penalty, so every part of the case was being dealt with incredibly carefully. We knew a few more details, too. Davis had forced Fabiana at knifepoint to drive to his home. Once there, he'd raped and strangled her. Then, he'd put her body into his car and covered it with a blanket and a bin bag.
Fabiana's murder had cast a massive shadow over all of us. We had to move on with our lives, though, while the police carried out the investigation.
A year on, me and Steve got married. But there was a gaping hole where Fabiana should have been.
‘She'd have made a wonderful bridesmaid,' I smiled to Mum.
Two years later, the court case finally began. That's when we found out that Fabiana's killer Davis, 34, suffered from bipolar disorder. For some reason, he'd decided to stop taking his medication a few months before killing Fabiana.
In court, we learnt the gruesome details of her death. We listenened to Davis' confession where he admitted to forcing Fabiana into his car.
‘Why did you do it?' the officer had asked.
‘I don't know,' he replied, as if he didn't have a care in the world. ‘We're all going to die anyway... she just beat her family to it.'
How could he be so cruel? It was just so callous, so casual. There wasn't the slightest sense of regret.
‘It was pretty interesting to squeeze the life out of somebody. I felt liberated,' he continued, his voice so matter-of-fact. I shuddered, wiped a tear from my eye.
‘She did everything I told her to,' he added, his voice so confident and proud. ‘But when I started to choke her, she struggled, so I strangled her.'
Even more disgusting, after he'd killed her, he said he'd gone to his local park and smoked a cigar. So he'd had time to watch the world go by while my sister's battered body lay in his car boot. Then he'd gone out for a cheesecake. He'd casually left her body there while he sat eating, calm as you like, with my sister's blood on his hands.
‘A cheesecake!' I hissed to Mum, tears pricking my eyelids. ‘It's just unbelievable.'
It turned my stomach. This was the work of a mad man. Mum was so distraught, she could only clasp her hand to her throat in shock.
Soon, it was my turn to speak to the court. I had to talk about the last time I saw my sister.
‘I remember hugging her before I left,' I said, my voice shaking. ‘Had I known it would be the last time, I would have held her longer.'
Staring across at Davis, I refused to cry. I didn't want to let this evil monster get the upper hand.
But he only twisted the knife even furter.
‘Would you do it again?' the County Sheriff asked him.
‘Oh yeah,' said Davis. Then he continued. ‘I am all for the death penalty,' he said. ‘I have been as far back as I can remember. I will not spend the next 40 to 50 years in prison.'
He was actually pleading to be killed for his crime! Everyone in the courtroom was shocked. They turned their heads to look at us, to gauge our reaction. They couldn't understand why he was asking them for the death penalty. But that would be the easy way out. I couldn't help but feel it was all part of his sick game either.
‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a death for a death,' he added. ‘What a joke!' I angrily whispered to Mum. ‘He's taking the moral high ground now!'
His defence attorney then described Davis' death wish as the product of ‘a seriously mentally ill patient.'
It wasn't surprising that the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape. The judge will decide if he receives the death penalty next month. His life doesn't matter to us, but I want him to suffer.
‘He'll be on death row for years,' Mum sighed. ‘But at least we know he'll never be let out.'
‘I'm just glad to have closure,' I said. I wouldn't have said I was happy, I felt too empty. Fabiana was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had her whole life ahead of her. I'd do anything to have her with me again, arguing about taking my clothes or just chatting about her day.
One thing this has taught me is just how precious life is. I'll never take anyone in my life for granted. In my sister's memory, I'll make the most of the time
that I have.
Wendy Velez, 26, Orlando, USA