Monday, May 14, 2007

Grief, and Mystery, Over Immigrant’s Killing

Published: May 14, 2007
Librado Romero/The New York Times

The Mount Kisco laundry where Rene Javier Perez, seen in a photograph on the flier, called 911 on April 28. Three Mount Kisco police officers responded to the call.

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Fourteen years ago, when Rene Javier Perez decided to leave his impoverished hometown in eastern Guatemala in search of a more prosperous life in the United States, his parents mortgaged the plot of land where they lived to raise $3,000 he needed for a smuggler to lead him across the border.

Librado Romero/The New York Times

About an hour after the officers met Mr. Perez, he was found, beaten, along a dirt road in Bedford.

The plan, which Mr. Perez shared with a few of his relatives, was to move to this placid village in Westchester County, where thousands of his countrymen had settled before him, and find work so that he could help his parents pay off the debt.

But jobs were hard to come by and the pay was not as good as he had envisioned, his mother, Merced Perez, recalled. So the money he was sending home, steady at first, turned into a trickle and eventually stopped. Unable to keep up with the loan payments, his parents lost their modest slice of land.

Now they have lost their son, and his death on April 29 — somewhere between a coin laundry in Mount Kisco and the side of a desolate dirt road in nearby Bedford — has become a source of sadness in Apantes, the Guatemalan town where he was born, and a mystery involving two police departments in his adopted Westchester County.

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