Vigil Held for Fitchburg Slay Victim
FITCHBURG -- Speak out and offer help to victims of domestic violence, advocates and city leaders said Monday night during a candlelight vigil to remember Jennifer Narvaez-Colon, who died from stab wounds from an alleged domestic dispute about two weeks ago.
“Domestic violence thrives in silence,” said Kathy Lewis, who lost her daughter, Tiana Notice, to domestic violence. “The less we talk about it, make it taboo, and have it swept under the rug, the worse it gets.”
The Spanish American Center, which is based in Leominster and works with people who have experienced domestic violence, organized the vigil that nearly 30 people attended.
On Nov. 6, officers responded to a call to 35 Wanoosnoc Road and found Narvaez-Colon, 34, lying in the street suffering from multiple stab wounds.
Her children aged 8, 11, and 13 surrounded her and tried to provide first aid, said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early. Narvaez-Colon later died at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
Her girlfriend, 33-year-old Wanda Liz Gonzalez, was found inside a bedroom in the apartment with wounds to her head and neck. She was arraigned from her hospital bed on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and domestic assault and battery.
After an autopsy ruled Narvaez-Colon’s death a homicide, those charges were dropped and Gonzalez was arraigned on a murder charge.
Mayor Stephen DiNatale said the victim came from Puerto Rico to escape Hurricane Maria in 2017.
″ A tragedy (here) did occur,” he said. “You can’t predict these kinds of things. I wish we could. I wish we could in order to prevent them.”
Moving forward, DiNatale said the focus should be on the three children of the victim and for the community to support them.
He thanked the Spanish American Center for organizing the vigil and its work in the community.
Wanda Ruiz, a domestic violence advocate with the center, led a prayer for those affected by domestic violence and asked for support for the city and police to help work on the issue.
Her daughter, Jasmin, sang “Amazing Grace” and then the crowd had a moment of silence.
Police Chief Ernest Martineau said in his 32 years in law enforcement in the city, he has seen the response to domestic violence change for the better and people advocate for survivors.
“We have people standing up for people who are not quite ready to fight that fight,” he said. “It’s the countless women and men and men facing a domestic situation day in and day out who need a voice.”
Martineau said everyone has an opportunity and obligation to help prevent someone else from becoming a victim of domestic violence.
Maria Alicea, a domestic violence counselor with the Spanish American Center, echoed the chief’s call for change.
“I encourage all of you to say something and speak loud,” she said at the close of the vigil.
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