Sept. 29, 2003 – Two children were orphaned Friday after an apparent homicide-suicide in Mon Bijou left both of their parents dead. Although the incident remained under investigation on Monday, police said preliminary reports indicate that 32-year-old Nancy Parrilla-Cirilo was stabbed to death in her home by her husband, Sandro Cirilo, 31, who then shot himself in the head.
The couple left behind a 5-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, who were not at home at the time.
Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman, described the home when police arrived as one of the most "brutal scenes" he has observed in 17 years of responding to crimes.
Nancy Parrilla-Cirilo suffered multiple stab wounds. A knife blade was found broken off in her chest. Bruises on her body indicate she had been beaten before being stabbed to death.
Sandro Cirilo died of a single gunshot wound to his head.
Police were called to the home at 6:15 p.m. Friday, nearly 14 hours after neighbors heard fighting going on in the residence.
Hannah said on Monday that, according to neighbors, the last time anyone heard any sound coming from the house was around 4:30 a.m. Friday. No one called the police while there were audible sounds of violence taking place.
An angered Hannah urged the public as word spread of the deaths: "Be a nosy neighbor. If you hear cries for help … call 911. Let us determine if further assistance is warranted."
Police were continuing to investigate the crime looking for evidence of previous incidents of domestic violence and seeking to determine whether alcohol or drugs may have been involved. Hannah said investigations are finding that alcohol and drug abuse "is becoming a major factor" in violent crimes.
Mary Mingus, co-director of the Women's Coalition of St. Croix, said on Monday that the agency had received no previous reports of domestic violence incidents at the Cirilo home. But, she said, "It would be highly unusual if this were the first incident. These things usually escalate."
Also, Mingus said, it is "appalling" if reports that neighbors heard the violent fight and didn't call police are true. She said too many people "still think domestic violence is a private matter." But it's not, she pointed out: "It's a crime."
Mingus said Nancy Parilla-Cirilo will become the 31st person on the coalition's list of women and children murdered as a direct result of domestic violence in the Virgin Islands. And, Mingus said, she is sure the list is not complete. (Click here to access the list. If you know of anyone else whose name you feel should be added, please e-mail the Source at email@example.com.)
"People have to care enough to dial 911," Mingus said. "Women are losing their lives in the V.I. on a regular basis."
She believes many of the deaths could be avoided. Isolation is one of the earmarks of domestic violence, and "people who are aware of domestic violence situations need to reach out to the victims," she said.
"It's okay to say 'I'm afraid for your safety and the safety of your children.' Or, 'It's only going to get worse,'" she said. And it's also okay to offer a safe haven to people who are victims. "Tell them they can stay with you."
And then there's the Women's Coalition which offers shelter "24-7, as Mingus said," on St. Croix. And the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas and The Safety Zone on St. John.
Hannah reiterated: "Encourage persons who are victims of domestic violence to seek help" from these agencies. Or "talk to the clergy," he said. "There is no situation so bad, so desperate, that it has to end as Friday's did … in a tragedy."
An acquaintance of the family said Nancy Parrilla-Cirilo's parents have already committed to raising the two children.
Help for others is available:
On St. Croix:
Women's Coalition of St. Croix
Web site: wcstx
On St. Thomas:
Family Resource Center
On St. John:
The Safety Zone
Telephone: 693-7233 or 693-5775
e-mail: the firstname.lastname@example.org
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