Brevard search dog named in tribute of slain child
'Junny' selected out of 8,000 name suggestions
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Vicki Rios-Martinez welcomed the unexpected reminders of her son Junny, who was abducted, raped and murdered in Brevard County as an 11-year-old in 1991.
According to Local 6 News partner Florida Today, whether it is a sympathy card with an old picture of Junny or a video that that has surfaced, she believes his memory continues past the tragedy.
"Just different things every single year," Rios-Martinez said. "Somehow or other he has made his way to get through to me through other people."
This year, it came in the form of a bloodhound puppy that the Brevard County Sheriff's Office has named "Junny" in honor of her son. BCSO is training the dog to eventually search for missing and endangered children and adults.
Earlier this month, Sheriff Wayne Ivey asked the public for help naming the dog using the BCSO Facebook page. The winner would take part in the ceremony Wednesday.
There were six Junny entries out of more than 7,500 names submitted before the May 16 deadline.
"The only fair way to do it was to pick the first one that was submitted," Ivey said. "So our team went back and found that very first submission."
The first "Junny" entry was from Eastern Florida State College student Raquel Santana, 20, of Cocoa, who has heard the Junny Rios-Martinez tragedy many times as a cautionary tale from her father while growing up.
"My dad told me about it," Santana said. "It is a story that has been told very often."
The bloodhound was given to the BCSO as a donation from the Jimmy Ryce Foundation, which is named after another child that was abducted, raped and killed in Florida in 1995.
Santana made the connection but tried without success to submit "Junny" on Facebook using her phone when there were only about 10 entries on the first day.
"When I got on my laptop, there were 500," Santana said. "It was like 10 minutes later and there were so many comments that I didn't think I was going to get it. So I was really surprised."
Vicki Rios-Martinez expects the bloodhound puppy will make a difference and keep his memory alive.
"His name will live on for many years," Rios-Martinez said. "This dog will find missing children, so he is still helping and watching over us.
"I know my son is still out there and he is touching people's lives."
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