Albuquerque Throws Birthday Party for Brutally Slain Girl

Victoria Martens was killed on 10th birthday
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2016 2:18 PM CDT
Albuquerque Throws Birthday Party for Girl Who Was Brutally Murdered
In this Thursday Aug. 25, 2016 photo, from left to right, Nicole Maldonado, Myriah Flores, and her mother Sharlene Benavidez attend a candlelight vigil for 10-year-old Victoria Martens at the apartment complex, Thursday Aug. 25, 2016, in Albuquerque, N.M., where the young girl lived and was killed.   (Jim Thompson/The Albuquerque Journal via AP)

Victoria Martens was brutally murdered in Albuquerque Wednesday—her 10th birthday. On Sunday, mourning residents of the city came together at a park the little girl loved to throw a birthday party for her, the AP reports. Thousands of people picnicked and ate donated pizza and birthday cake, children played and danced to music queued up by one of two DJs, and boxes collected donated stuffed animals, the Albuquerque Journal reports. "Sometimes really bad things happen and evil puts its head up and the way we squash that is with light, and love is light. And this is love. Today is love," Mayor Richard Berry told the group. Toward the end of the celebration of Victoria's life, the crowd blew bubbles, released balloons, and held a candlelight vigil.

Some of Victoria's grieving family members, including grandparents, were in attendance, and made their first public comments. They wept, thanked Albuquerque residents for the outpouring of support, and promised to push for stronger laws to protect children. Police say Victoria's mother, 35-year-old Michelle Martens, watched as her boyfriend of one month, 31-year-old Fabian Gonzales, drugged, raped, and murdered Victoria along with his 31-year-old cousin, Jessica Kelley. All three are charged in the girl's death. Tragically, KRQE reports that Gonzales was supposed to be on supervised probation at the time of Victoria's murder, due to a previous violent crime, but he was not. It's not clear how Gonzales slipped through the cracks of the system. (Read more murder stories.)

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