NEW BEDFORD — A man arrested in Connecticut Friday has been named a person of interest in the fatal shooting of his 19-year-old daughter in New Bedford last month, according to a deputy US marshal.
Walter DaSilva, 45, was arrested in Bridgeport, Conn., and charged with being a fugitive from justice, said deputy US marshal James Masterson, who is stationed in Bridgeport. The charge stems from a probation violation in the attempted murder of his daughter’s mother in Weston in 2002, according to Masterson.
DaSilva was identified as the father of Sabrina DaSilva, who was shot to death outside the New Bedford apartment she shared with her mother and young daughter on the Fourth of July weekend, according to Masterson.
Sabrina DaSilva’s mother said she was relieved to hear of his arrest, hoping it would be the end to what she called an abusive and disturbing relationship between him and her family that has lasted more than a decade.
“I feel relief because now at least I can go out more peacefully,” Lilian Silva said in a phone interview Sunday. “I was very scared. But . . . nothing is going to bring my daughter back.”
DaSilva, who lives in Danbury, Conn., was renovating a house Friday afternoon in Bridgeport, Masterson said. Members of US Marshals Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force in Connecticut took him into custody when he went for lunch at a nearby pizza parlor, he said.
“Our task force in Massachusetts got a request from New Bedford police in early July shortly after the homicide” of Sabrina DaSilva, Masterson said. “They really needed to talk to him.”
The Bristol County district attorney’s office has not charged anyone with the killing of Sabrina DaSilva, district attorney spokesman Gregg Miliote said on Sunday. He declined to comment further.
Silva detailed the unstable relationship she said she had with DaSilva, which she said escalated once their daughter was born.
“He doesn’t have control of his anger,” she said. “He is very violent, abusive, possessive, obsessive. He was out of control.”
Silva separated from DaSilva in 2001, choosing to raise Sabrina DaSilva on her own, she said. DaSilva, she said, continued to harass and threaten her.
In late 2002, he was arrested and later convicted for attacking Silva with a knife. While he was in prison, she said, they divorced, and when he got out, he went back to his native Brazil, Silva said.
Silva said he later returned to the United States and reached out to Sabrina DaSilva, whom he had not seen since she was 4 years old. They talked over the phone or on Skype often, and she went to visit him in Connecticut for his birthday in late May, Silva said.
“I couldn’t say anything because she was 19 years old,” Silva said. “I couldn’t force her to stop talking to her father.”
She said her daughter was supposed to visit DaSilva on the Fourth of July weekend but backed out at the last minute.
Sabrina DaSilva lived with her mother and her 2-year-old daughter in the Verdean Gardens apartments in New Bedford. On the evening of July 3, Sabrina DaSilva told Silva that she was going to the grocery store. She never made it home. Sabrina DaSilva was shot multiple times in the building’s parking lot and pronounced dead later that night.
“I ran outside to the parking lot, but they already had her in the ambulance. I just saw blood everywhere,” Silva said. “But I knew it was my daughter, because there were grocery bags on the floor.”
Sabrina DaSilva was studying to become an interpreter for the court system and is remembered as a “bubbly, happy-go-lucky, beautiful, pretty girl,” by neighbors.
Carol Almeida, 54, Silva’s friend and former neighbor, said the entire building feels safer as a result of DaSilva’s arrest.
“We were all spooked out before,” Almeida said. “Nobody wanted to step out at night.”
Bridgeport and New Bedford police declined to comment on his arrest. He is being held on a $500,000 bail pending an extradition hearing in Bridgeport Monday, Masterson said.
“I’m very interested in what he’s going to say,” Silva said. “And I want justice.”
After hearing the news of DaSilva’s arrest Friday, Almeida arranged fresh flowers on a memorial for Sabrina DaSilva in the building’s parking lot.Miguel Otárola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @motarola123.