Christmas Eve slaying still haunts family and investigators in Monmouth
ASBURY PARK — This Christmas, Minerva Torralba's prayers will be the same as they've been every year since her husband was killed: Let there be justice.
Cesar Torralba, 35, was gunned down outside his family's apartment door by a robber on Christmas Eve in 2007.
His wife glimpsed the gunman through the peephole, heard the gunshot and found her husband's unconscious body on the floor. He was pronounced dead at the hospital less than an hour later.
"Not a day goes by that my daughters and I do not think about my husband and their father," Minerva said this week. "It’s hard to explain how just how hard it has been for my daughters to grow up not having a father to guide, love and cherish them."
The homicide — one of six in the city that year — remains unsolved.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office on Saturday called on the public to help identify and nab the killer.
“As police officers and prosecutors, we are sworn to treat each and every murder case and victim the same; we strive to do that each and every day and with each and every loss of life," Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said. "However, some cases are just so senseless and gut-wrenching that it demands special attention."
"Cesar Torralba’s widow and his two, now-teenage daughters deserve answers and they deserve justice."
On his last day, Torralba left his Sixth Avenue home to buy holiday dinner groceries at the Super Extra grocery store on Memorial Drive.
When he returned about 12:40 p.m., his wife recalls hearing voices outside their door. When she looked through the peephole, she saw her husband arguing with a man who was demanding money and pointing a small black handgun at him.
Minerva said she heard the gun fire as she searched for a phone to call police.
Investigators have not been able to identify a suspect from the description Minerva provided.
Immediately after the slaying, the nonprofit anti-crime volunteer group Guardian Angels went into the neighborhood to encourage people with information to come forward.
Investigators and Torralba's widow are now renewing this effort.
“Please do not let your fear get in the way of justice for the person who killed my husband," she said.
"It’s just not fair to them," she said about her teenage daughters. "They have grown up waiting for the person responsible to be arrested. Cesar, their father and my husband, was a great man who worked hard every day to provide for us. I plead with anyone who knows anything to contact police so my children do not have to wait any longer for justice,”
Authorities ask that anyone with information call Detective Jose Cruz of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Detective Gabriel Carrasquillo of the Asbury Park Police Department at 732-774-1300.
Anonymous information can be delivered to the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling 800-671-4400, or texting “MONMOUTH” and the information to 274637, or visiting their website.
Crime Stoppers offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest or conviction.
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