It's been almost 20 years since the body of a woman was found inside a suitcase floating in the Biscayne River Canal in Miami, and only now is the man believed to be responsible being charged for her murder. CBS Miami reports that 45-year-old Berkley Calvin Curtis Jr. has been charged with 2nd degree murder in connection with the death of 26-year-old Rebeca Pena, his ex-girlfriend who was discovered dead back in April, 2001.
Pena's body was inside a suitcase alongside two 25-pound weight lifting plates, presumably to keep the body underwater. She was last seen one day before she was discovered, working as an extra on the set of the 2001 Muhammad Ali biopic Ali. Her death became a cold case, but it's been solved thanks to forensics, a withdrawn testimony, and modern-day detective techniques and technology.
Investigators said that Pena had complained to those close to her that Curtis, whom she had already broken up with at that point, had been "stalking her." The same type of weight lifting plates were discovered at Curtis' father's Miami home, but when his girlfriend at the time was interviewed, she said he left for a few minutes to go to the grocery store on the night Pena was murdered. Twelve years later, she said that he was gone for hours.
With all the new evidence, and the new techniques employed, authorities believe they have enough evidence to suggest Pena was murdered by Curtis. "An unsolved homicide gnaws at the heart every parent and every family member left behind," said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “Each survivor waits for the day that the killer of their loved one is brought to justice. For the Pena family, we believe that day has finally arrived. I want to commend the Miami-Dade Police Department for their hard work and commitment toward bringing the accused killer of Rebeca Pena to justice."
GPS records were among the evidence looked at, as well as all the testimonies over the years. Pena's father said that Curtis had frequently scared his daughter, while her sister said that Curtis had been physically abusive to her in the past.
"With this news of the arrest of this person, the pain will be less because justice has been served," said Pena's father Rafael in a statement translated from Spanish to English. "But the emptiness is still there and won’t go away. ... Every day we don’t see her here, we cry a little. But we’re satisfied with the life we gave her. I tell everyone, enjoy life with your children, and forgive them, because you don’t know what may happen one day."