VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – An argument over how to discipline a child led a man to fatally stab his wife in front of her 10-year-old son Monday before turning the knife on himself in an apparent murder-suicide at a Deltona home, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Oscar Salazar, 31, whom deputies said assumed the fake identity of Albertico Garza, is accused of fatally stabbing 26-year-old Byanca Cruz Tovar, whom he had been with since 2016 and shared a 5-year-old and 2-year-old child with.
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The suspect, who was found on the floor in grave condition with slice wounds to his neck, was taken to the hospital by responding deputies and later died of his injuries, according to investigators.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said deputies initially responded to 2742 at Gramercy Drive around 6:17 p.m. Monday when a 10-year-old boy ran to a neighbor’s house “screaming for help that his stepdad is stabbing his mom,” after Salazar unsuccessfully tried to stab the boy as well.
“Those (neighbors) call 911, they get the response moving. Those neighbors go into the house and see ... that gruesome scene in the bedroom and it’s clear from the detectives on scene and the autopsy that it was a fight. (Salazar) was loaded with defensive wounds. So it was an absolute fight for her life,” Chitwood said at a news briefing on Tuesday, adding the victim died at the scene.
While the sheriff said his deputies had never responded to that house before, as no 911 calls were placed in the past, Salazar was arrested twice before in 2016 and previously faced charges for aggravated battery on Cruz Tovar, including when she was pregnant.
“We’ve never been there, however, some of the neighbors described to detectives that there was a contentious relationship,” he added. “There was a lot of screaming and hollering.”
The 10-year-old boy who witnessed his mother being stabbed is now in the custody of his father, Cruz Tovar’s first husband, who is uninvolved in this investigation, Chitwood said. He added the 5-year-old and 2-year-old child are now in the custody of their maternal grandmother.
“This is really, really a heartbreaking story. It’s absolutely, it’s sickening on one end and again you look at, you have three little kids involved here. You have a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old who don’t have their mother anymore, over what? When you really get down to it, over what?” he said.
The sheriff said they know what happened and now it’s just a matter of getting the little ones the help they need.
“When you think of it, what tragedy can you go through other than to watch your mother get killed at the hands of your father or stepfather?” Chitwood said. “And then again, what happens to the nuclear family itself? You have three kids that are being raised together and now, what? They’re going to be scattered to the wind? What happens to them? That’s the concern.”
The sheriff added that’s a concern that the community will continue to address as best it can as the family deals with the ramifications of this tragedy.
“It’s classic domestic violence, looking at that sad part of how these things end,” he said. “I mean, there’s a history there. You know, in 2016 he’s arrested twice, including battery, aggravated battery, on her when she was pregnant. You know, when you listen to the neighbors talk about a contentious relationship and hear, you know, how senseless and brutal this is.”
Chitwood said it’s the second domestic homicide the sheriff’s office has seen within the span of a month.
This comes after Michael Williams, 47, was arrested on Sept. 18 after deputies said he shot and killed his ex-wife and her son over an argument about the electricity in a Volusia County home near DeLand.
For those experiencing domestic violence in Volusia County, please call the Beacon Center’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 386-255-2102 or visit www.mybeaconcenter.com for information on emergency shelters, financial independence training and programs for children.
For Florida’s statewide, 24/7 domestic violence hotline, please call 800-500-1119 and for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7 in all languages, please call 800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788 or visit www.thehotline.org.
A GoFundMe was created to help the family with expenses. Click here to visit the page.
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