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Services held for 5 found dead in residence

April 07, 2007|By DAVID DISHNEAU

FREDERICK, Md. - A private funeral was held Friday for four slain children and their father, 11 days after police found the bodies in their home.

About 50 people, including family members and invited guests, attended the closed-casket service at Keeney & Basford Funeral Home in downtown Frederick, funeral director Ryan Berger said. Family members declined interview requests, he said.

The service for Pedro Rodriguez, 28, and Elsa, 9; Vanessa, 4; Angel, 3, and Carena, 1, lasted about 30 minutes, Berger said.

Amid donated bouquets of assorted flowers, the Rev. Rodolfo Campos of Maranatha Community Church of God gave a message in Spanish that was summarized by an interpreter for English speakers, Berger said.

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"He was just trying to offer them some comfort with the devastating event that has happened," Berger said.

Police are searching for the children's mother, Deysi M. Benitez, 25, who was last seen March 18.

"No sightings, no leads, nothing," Frederick city police Lt. Thomas Chase said Friday. He said airline passenger checks and subpoenaed bank and telephone records have produced no leads.

Police found the bodies March 26 in the family's three-bedroom town house after the two oldest children had failed to show up at school for a week. Autopsies showed the three girls were suffocated, the boy was bludgeoned to death and their father hanged himself.

Relatives and co-workers have said the family struggled with language problems and financial difficulties and that the marriage was troubled. The parents and their oldest daughter were legal immigrants from El Salvador, while the three other children were born in the U.S.

Rodriguez learned March 15 that he would lose his factory job at a door-manufacturing plant that is scheduled to close in July. Benitez worked in a restaurant kitchen.

El Salvador's consul general in Washington, Ana Margarita Chavez, said the remains will be sent Wednesday to El Salvador for burial in the parents' hometown of Sensuntepeque.

Chavez said she spoke Thursday with Benitez's sister, Angela, in Sensuntepeque.

"They are still very worried about Deysi. She hasn't called at all to her family," Chavez said.

Some of Rodriguez's family members, including two brothers and an aunt, traveled from California to Maryland to claim the remains and make funeral arrangements, Chavez said.

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