Saundra Gonzales had always harbored aspirations of embracing motherhood, a cherished desire that manifested on the 6th of November, 2015, with the birth of her daughter, Faviola Rodriguez.
Faviola made her entrance through the veil of a cesarean procedure, and Gonzales’ initial encounter with her newborn transpired on the subsequent day. It was on this occasion that an immediate and profound maternal affection enveloped her heart.
“She bestowed upon me the gift of motherhood,” Gonzales eloquently expressed.
On the 6th of September, 2018, Faviola found herself once again within the confines of a hospital. Her countenance bore the markings of trauma, with her facial features and ribcage marred by contusions, rendering her unresponsive.
In the emergency room, medical practitioners dedicated a span of 40 minutes to employ life-preserving measures on the young child, only to, regrettably, pronounce her demise. The responsibility for this tragic outcome was imputed to Lalo Anthony Castrillo IV, Gonzales’ then-paramour, who had assumed care for Faviola on that fateful night while Gonzales fulfilled her professional duties. He was taken into custody the subsequent day and charged with the grave offense of intentional child abuse resulting in fatal consequences.
In the interim of nearly two years that have since elapsed, the legal proceedings involving Castrillo remain unresolved. He currently resides on bail as he awaits the impending trial. The anticipation for this judicial process is fervently experienced by Gonzales and her kin, as expressed by her sentiments: “Our patience is sorely tested within the framework of the justice system.” Gonzales firmly holds the conviction that her impassioned pleas for justice have garnered newfound resonance, a phenomenon potentially facilitated by Faviola herself.
An unexpected encounter transpired at a juncture thereafter. Faviola Nova Rodriguez’s resting place is nestled within the precincts of the Masonic Cemetery on Compress Road in Las Cruces. A stone seraph, with arms outstretched, cradles a heart-shaped tombstone that bears the inscription: “Eternally enshrined within my heart, beloved mother.”
The monument is embellished by an assortment of teal, pink, purple, and white blossoms, as well as golden sunflowers. A plush infant doll, adorned in lavender-hued sleepwear, a lantern, and sundry playthings, contribute to the scene’s poignant aura.
In close proximity to Faviola’s sepulcher stands the memorial of James Bustamante, who departed from this realm on the 23rd of November, 2019. His final resting place is adorned with an array of blooms and luminous fixtures that ignite as twilight descends. The Bustamante family detected signs of tampering with the gravesite earlier in the year, prompting them to install a surveillance camera affixed to a tree, its lens focused upon their son’s final abode.
The clock had just struck 9:15 p.m. on the 1st of June when the camera encapsulated an unforeseen visitor. A girl, seemingly of an age congruent with what Faviola would be at that time, graced the scene with her presence. Possessing a mane of black, coiled tresses, she lingered for a fleeting instant by Bustamante’s gravesite before receding from the camera’s purview. Mere moments later, an automobile traversed the scene.
Reina Rodriguez, mother to the late James Bustamante, recounted that her son was a polymath, overseeing a myriad of tattoo parlors, and nurturing an affection for both adults and children. Upon viewing the camera’s footage, Rodriguez derived solace from the girl’s visitation. To her, it symbolized a divine assurance that her departed son had found peace.
“(The girl) approached his sepulcher with purpose, genuflecting in what seemed to be silent communion — though the details remain obscured within the photographs,” Reina Rodriguez mused. “After a brief interlude, she cast one more lingering gaze before retracing her steps toward the far corner of the vista.” It was Reina Rodriguez’s daughter who, during a visit to her brother’s gravesite, acquainted Gonzales with the images capturing the enigmatic child.
Witnessing the photographs, Gonzales was overtaken by a torrent of tears, as she intuitively recognized the young girl as none other than Faviola. “I perceive this as an affirmation of her continued presence among us,” Gonzales opined. “It is my belief that she purposefully revealed herself, driven by a mission to assert her voice in the ongoing trial proceedings… a mission of rectitude.”
As time progressed, the two families have forged a bond of closeness.
Gonzales shared the images captured by the cemetery’s camera, along with her narrative chronicling her quest for justice, through a post on social media. This post, in turn, has gained widespread traction and viewership.
In her poignant exposition, Gonzales underscores the unshakeable conviction that the child depicted in the images is indisputably Faviola. “From her very countenance down to her attire and footwear,” Gonzales articulates, alluding to the colloquial Spanish term “chanclas” as she reflects upon the flip-flop shoes that adorned the child’s feet.