The Chicago Sun-Times reported late yesterday that New Mexico authorities have arrested William Bahena, chief suspect in Tuesday's murder of Elva Diaz, and will extradite him back to Illinois next week:
Almost a year after he was arrested for violating an order of protection involving his girlfriend, a 31-year-old Near West Side man is accused of killing her, authorities said Friday.
On Sept. 10, 2007, Diaz obtained an emergency order of protection against Bahena.
On Christmas Day, he was arrested for allegedly violating the order of protection, but she declined to bring charges against him, court records show.
Elva's funeral is tomorrow; there is a visitation today at St. Gall's on the Southwest Side.
I need to mention another thing about this. A couple of Elva's friends have told me she died intestate, meaning she did not have a will. They specifically asked me to blog about the difficulty this is causing her kids, and I'm happy to do.
As an unmarried person with children (ages 12, 11, and 6), the distribution of her assets is straightforward, but her children have no access to those assets until the court can appoint an administrator. Five days after her death this hasn't yet happened. It could take weeks. Meanwhile, though her children are safe, they still need food and clothes, and it will take some time before the court can determine their permanent custody arrangements.
This isn't an appeal for grocery-store gift certificates (which, nonetheless, would help). Rather, I urge anyone with children to write a will.
As a law student, I drafted several wills for attorneys, and I can tell you they can be very, very simple documents. At the very least a will should dispose of all your property, nominate an executor to manage the dispostions, and recommend who should have custody of your children. Now, I don't know Illinois child-welfare law at all, so it's possible that had Elva died any other way than at the hand of her children's father, he would be the presumptive nominee for custody. (I think the order of protection against him might have overcome that presumption, and certainly murdering his children's mother would; but this is why you need an attorney, because it can get knotty. I also have to remind people that no one has been convicted of any crime relating to Elva's murder yet. I am merely discussing the possible legal ramifications of a scenario of unknown likelihood.)
But still, if the Public Guardian has a document saying "I nominate Aunt Mildred custodian of my children" then he has an idea of who's best for the kids. Further, if the will nominates a qualified executor, then the executor can make this happen as well--by representing the estate against the Public Guardian, if necessary.
Elva's death has affected a lot of people, including me, but most especially her children. Writing a minimal will takes half an hour, and a neighborhood attorney can do it inexpensively and efficiently. It can really help your kids at their worst hour should something happen to you.