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Cold case families speak out, hope for new leads

Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 20:12:41-04

Strength, resilience, and justice -- those are the three words that encompass the theme of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. On Thursday, the group Homicide Survivors, Inc., brought five families together to help give them the tools to both cope with their loss, as well as tips on how to spread the word out about their cold cases.

Though the five families are not directly related -- they share a unique connection: a family member, murdered, and a case gone cold. Some of the cases more than 30 years old, others as fresh as 2 years old. 

Augustine Arguellez's brother Anthonio Flores was murdered in 2013. Arguellez explained he and his brother were as close as could be. They laughed together, they worked out together, they fought with each other, they did everything brothers would do.

"I remember when I used to get in fights with him, I would be mad," he said." "But right after I would run to him, hug him, and tell him I love him."

It's been nearly 4 years since his brother was murdered -- shot and killed. He and his family say just because the case is cold doesn't mean they're giving up. They make shirts Anthonio's memory, attend events, and continually spread the word, hoping someone will eventually come forward.

"I just pray that someone finds it in their heart to do the right thing," Arguellez said.

Seeking justice -- something Valerie Calonge wants as well. Her daughter Maribel Gonzalez was 14 years old when she was found dead, murdered.

"I will never give up. Never," Calonge said. "I mean I have hope every day that somebody will come forward."

Though her case is cold too -- she says she's sure that someone out there knows something that will re-ignite the case. 

Rebecca Lock's son Ernesto Aros was murdered more than a decade ago -- back in 2005. The case, frozen, with no new leads.

"I can't be a detective, I can't make somebody have a conscience," Lock said. "I can't make somebody be ashamed that they haven't come forward. I can't, it's out of my hands."

Lock says she'll always hold onto hope -- but says she understands she may never get justice and has come to terms with that. Homicide Survivors, Inc., providing her with the support to keep her spirit alive.

Frances Haley's son -- James Gunderson -- was murdered in 1986 -- the case, cold now for more than 30 years. She doesn't expect to ever get justice, saying the people who did it may even be dead by now. However, she's never giving up hope and genuinely believes the case could open up again. Her priority is to keep her son's memory alive with her other children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

"They had his picture, superimposed in the back of them, so I have all five of my children in a picture," she said. "Its this picture right here, so they put all of us on the side of him."

Yesenia Campos' brother Richard Vega was murdered in 2004. She described him as her guardian, like a father figure to her, despite only being a year apart. More than a decade later, she and her mother just want answers.

"Justice, I think we just need closure more than anything," Campos said. "What keeps us going is each other."

Anyone with information about any of these homicides is urged to call 88-CRIME.

Homicide Survivors, Inc. will be hosting it's annual Spring Candlelight Vigil at Children's Memorial Park on Saturday, April 1, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It's located at 4851 N. Fifteenth Place in Tucson.