Dora Merino thought the search for a suspect in the death of her 18-year-old sister would take more time after Blanca Lainez’s battered and stabbed body was found last month in an East Boston garage.
But Merino said her family feels one step closer to closure, after officials announced the arrest Sunday of 16-year-old Jose Hernandez in connection with Lainez’s killing.
“Since [her death] happened, we always wanted there to be justice and to find who did it,” she said in Spanish. “I’m happy they arrested him because he is a person that cannot be harming others out in the public.”
Officials said forensic evidence, video surveillance, and phone records led to the arrest of Hernandez, who lives in East Boston.
Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on a murder charge in East Boston Municipal Court, and juveniles over the age of 14 are automatically charged for such crimes as adults in Massachusetts, according to Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
“It makes me a little nervous, because it’s bad for his family. It’s bad for both families,” said Susano Merino, Lainez’s brother, in Spanish.
But, he added, “It was bigger for me, because my sister was taken from me.”
Lainez’s body was found on June 15 in the garage behind a duplex on Princeton Street, officials said. She had suffered blunt-force injuries and stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. She was identified on June 18, just days before what would have been her 19th birthday.
Dora Merino and her siblings are still reeling from the death of Lainez, who entered the United States illegally from El Salvador in 2014 when she was just 16.
“I would’ve preferred for her to never come here to this country,” Dora Merino said. “In the search to find a better life, she came and found death.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement that the arrest is part of the ongoing investigation into “a crime of brutal violence.”
“Every tip, however small, brings us closer to finding justice for Blanca and her loved ones,” Conley said.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans expressed condolences to the family and commended the efforts of detectives in a statement. “I pray that this arrest brings some level of comfort to the family,” he said.
Dora and Susano Merino said they do not know Hernandez, and he has no connection to their family or friends. They thanked investigators for their work and said they still have questions about how Lainez was killed. “I would like to ask that person what she did that was that bad for them to take her life,” Dora Merino said. “And to know what her last words were.”