Family seeks justice for man whose remains were found in box
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Since Francisco Cuevas’ dismembered body was found in 2008 inside a welded metal box near the Beeline Highway in Palm Beach Gardens, his family has gathered every Nov. 3 to memorialize his life.
They returned this month to the site where Florida Department of Transportation maintenance workers discovered the box holding the remains of the father of four.
Margarita Goedeke, Cuevas’ 78-year-old mother, and other family members spent their time clearing out the wooded area where Cuevas was found, planting flowers and remembering the man Goedeke said was “the rock of our family.”
“No mother could ask for a better son,” said Goedeke, who lives in Naples.
Cuevas, 47 when he was killed, lived in Coral Springs and owned Pyro Industries, which installed kitchen oven hoods at restaurants and other businesses, in Pompano Beach that he started in 2002. Police found traces of blood at his business, which also was known as Hood Mart, including on the foot pedals of welding machines. According to court documents, a crime-scene analyst determined that “the patterns are indicative of a blood cleanup.”
A crew of DOT workers clearing an area around the Beeline and Jog Road came upon the metal box that contained Cuevas’ head and other body parts in April 2008, more than five months after police say he was abducted and murdered. It would be another year-plus before Cuevas was identified through dental records.
Carlos “Charlie” Cuevas, Francisco’s youngest child, was 8 years old when his father disappeared. Charlie said he and his sister, Samantha, were preparing to move back in with their father, who was divorced from their mother, before he went missing.
“I was told that no one knew where he was,” said Cuevas, now 19 and a graduate of Park Vista High School in suburban Boynton Beach. “I was very upset and mad with him. I couldn’t understand it.”
By the time his father’s remains were identified, Charlie Cuevas said he “already kind of knew” what the outcome was going to be even though he was only 9.
“I was scared that’s the way it was going to turn out,” he says.
Gustavo Enamorado-Dubon, a Honduran citizen who illegally had entered the U.S., became a suspect in July 2010 after the Spanish-language television program “Aqui y Ahora” on Univision aired a segment on Cuevas’ murder.
A Broward County grand jury indicted Enamorado-Dubon in 2013 on charges of first-degree murder and armed kidnapping. After confessing and waiting nearly five years for a jury trial, he was convicted April 27 on both charges and received a life sentence, which he is serving at the Avon Park Correctional Institution.
Coral Springs police detectives who investigated the case were captured in an audiotape made in April 2013 saying they did not believe Enamorado-Dubon, who was 16 at the time of the murder, was involved in the crime, according to Miami television WPLG-10.
The detectives say on the tape that Enamorado-Dubon insisted to them the murder was a hit ordered by Hagen Christ, Cuevas’ business partner, and carried out by MS-13 gang members, according to WPLG’s report.
After Cuevas disappeared, investigators said Christ withdrew $58,500 from his partner’s personal bank account. Christ also allegedly removed Cuevas’ cars from a company insurance policy during a time when Cuevas was only listed as missing. Goedeke, Cuevas’ mother, said she was forced to pay the insurance policies out of her own pocket.
Suspicion was also raised by Christ after he told police that Cuevas never arrived at their Pompano Beach business that Nov. 3, even though authorities had cellphone records putting Cuevas in that area.
Christ has not been charged in the case, although records show that he’s the subject of an active warrant for failing to appear in court following a February 2010 arrest in Broward County for possession of oxycodone, a felony.
Cuevas’ family believes that Christ, a Peruvian national, may have fled the country. Attempts to find current contact information for Christ were unsuccessful. Court records show authorities informed U.S. Homeland Security in November 2012 about Christ, presumably regarding his fugitive status.
Coral Springs police say the case remains open.
“In my opinion, some justice has been served, but not completely, and it won’t be until we have everyone involved,” Charlie Cuevas said.
Charlie Cuevas said among the last memories of his father is of a Christmas visit after his parents divorced. Francisco Cuevas brought presents for Charlie and Samantha, but also carried gifts for the siblings’ half-sister, who was no relation to Francisco.
“It was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Charlie Cuevas said. “Most people wouldn’t do that.”
Goedeke maintains a shrine to her son inside her Naples home, including the butts from two of the last cigarettes he smoked. She also oversees a website — www.justiceforfranky.com — devoted to Cuevas.
The site’s home page ends with: “We will never be the same without you! We will not have peace until those who took you are brought to justice!”
“I have faith God will keep me on this earth long enough to see that happen,” she said.
Information from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, http://www.pbpost.com