“She was a sweetheart” — Friend of Greenwich murder victim in shock over discovery
A neighbor of Valerie Reyes said Thursday she had prayed the body found in Greenwich this week was not that of the quiet young woman she knew who asked about her kids and made sure to check if others needed anything before snowstorms.
Soon after the body was discovered, stuffed in a suitcase left by Glenville Road Tuesday morning, police began investigating for a possible connection with Reyes, 24, who had been reported missing from her New Rochelle, N.Y., home in late January.
“I was praying to God it wasn’t her,” said Brenda DeGiacomo, a New Rochelle native who lived across the street from Reyes. “And then when I found out it was her and the way she was, it was horrible. I really pray to God that they find out who did it.”
Reyes lived alone, having moved into a basement apartment in a multi-family house in the historic Westchester city about two or three years ago, DeGiacomo said. The young woman’s family lived nearby.
They only knew each other to say “Hi” at first, and Reyes kept mostly to herself. But they became friends after the younger woman adopted a pitbull puppy, which attracted kids from the neighborhood.
“You know how kids are. All the neighborhood kids went to her,” said DeGiacomo, a mother of five.
They also bonded when Reyes’ saw DeGiacomo’s tattoos and mentioned her brother is a tattoo artist.
“After that we were just talking, friends … every morning we would have a conversation,” she said. “If she didn’t see my son for a couple of days she would ask how he was, ‘Is he OK?’
“She was a sweetheart.”
When Reyes wasn’t around for a couple of mornings, DeGiacomo said she thought she might be on vacation.
“Until they posted an article Friday on Facebook (looking for Reyes). … I got home and I read it and that’s when I started crying,” DeGiacomo said.
Still, she held out hope against the worst, even after learning Tuesday about the grim discovery up the highway in Greenwich.
“She was the sweetest most gentle girl, like I can’t see anyone harming her,” DeGiacomo said. “It’s disgusting. And to put her in a suitcase? And just think about her last minutes, her last breaths.”
Reyes’ neighbor began to tear up at the thought.
“It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting. And this person is on the streets? Walking the streets still? It’s unbelievable,” she said. “And then to find out someone took pictures of her?”
DeGiacomo was reacting to reports that Greenwich authorities are investigating whether the town highwayman who found Reyes’ remains took and shared photos of the body.
“That disgusting,” she said. “Her family didn’t even get to identify her yet, and you’re taking pictures and sending them out? This is not a joke. It’s someone’s life.”
Reyes’ killer did not just take her life, and a beloved daughter from her family, DeGiacomo said, but a neighbor and friend from their neighborhood.
“The kids are horrified and hurt too to see something happen to their neighbor. This is the first time something happened close to home,” she said. “My kids are prisoners now because I don’t know where this happened and until I know where this happened, I don’t feel safe letting my kids out on my own block where I live. Not even in front of my house, which is scary.”
“I really pray to God they find out who done this,” she said.
The Greenwich Police Department is asking anyone “who may have seen anything suspicious on Glenville Road in the last few days” to contact the Greenwich Police Tip Line at 203- 622-3333, or send an email at Tips@greenwichct.org..