Victims’ Families Dispute Blame

[Original publication date: September 10, 2004]

Relatives working to bring bodies to Nicaragua for burial

Meza Family MemorialROCK HILL – The deaths of the Meza family in York County are making headlines in Nicaragua where the mothers of the slain adults are arguing about who committed the crime.


In Friday’s edition of El Nuevo Diario, a newspaper in Managua, the front page had opposing photos of Orfa Molinares Munguia — mother of Marbely Meza — and Dona Teodolinda Meza — mother of Denis Meza. Above Meza’s photo, the headline says “Mi hijo no fue” (“It wasn’t my son.”)

The five-member Meza family died early Monday. The three children, Jairo, 5; Denise, 8; and Denia, 14, died after having their throats slashed before their home was destroyed by fire. The parents died from smoke inhalation and burns in the fire at 4053 Crestview Drive. Marbely Meza, 30, had a cut on her wrist that may have been a defensive knife wound. Investigators are awaiting toxicological test results they hope will point to the killer.

York County Coroner Doug McKown said Friday that one of the tests will determine if any member of the Meza family was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

“We don’t have any indication that any members of the family were incapacitated prior to their deaths,” McKown said. “But it’s something we’re looking into, particularly with these children whose throats were cut.”

Another test will determine if DNA evidence shows the identity of the person who raped Denia within five days of her death.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Denis Meza, 39, on July 16 on charges of sexually molesting Denia. He was ordered to move out of the house and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

McKown also said Friday that the bodies of Marbely Meza and the children had been turned over to Greene Funeral Home in Rock Hill, but the father’s body was still being held for someone to claim him. Greene officials said they’re awaiting word from Marbely Meza’s brother, Ariel Zeledón, on whether the four will be buried in Rock Hill or returned to Central America. Marbely’s mother said Thursday that she plans to bring the family home to Matagalpa, Nicaragua, to be buried in a family cemetery plot.

In the Nicaraguan newspaper, Denis Meza’s mother said he couldn’t have committed the crime because he was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses church.

Please see our section on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Criminals. This section should prove being a member of the Watchtower cult is no guarantee for nothing at all!

Teodolinda Meza added that she had been able to speak to her son only twice in the nine years he had been in the States because she doesn’t have a phone.

She is asking the Nicaraguan government to bring back her son’s body, because she doesn’t have $1,500 for the trip and other expenses.

Zeledón family members said Orfa Molinares Munguia had left Managua on Friday morning for the United States and was expected to land late Friday but was experiencing flight delays getting to Charlotte because of Hurricane Charley in Florida. She expects to stay in Rock Hill for about a month, family members say.

Some family members of Marbely Meza in Nicaragua on Friday said they’re not ready to blame Denis Meza.

Let the investigators determine who’s at fault, said her father, Rosenberg Castillo Raiytes, 42, from his home in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Raiytes said Denis Meza was a good person.

“Well-mannered, hard worker and very honest,” he said. “I don’t have anything against Denis or Teodolinda (his mother).”

But newspaper accounts in Nicaragua say Marbely Meza’s mother, Orfa Molinares Munguia, felt differently.

She approached Teodolinda Meza after the incident and told her, “Do you realize what your son did. He killed my daughter and my grandchildren!” according to one newspaper.

When Raiytes was told about the deaths earlier this week, he contacted Teodolinda Meza.

“She was stricken and very sad,” Raiytes said. “We didn’t talk much because she was very traumatized.”

Alicia Herrera Rivas, a close friend of Teodolinda Meza, who lives in Matagalpa, said Meza was hurt after hearing the news.

Her son was popular back home — he was a Sandinista fighter for five years and was even sent to Cuba for military training, Rivas said. After the war, he worked two years as an administrator with the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security and Well-Being.

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