The young woman who was the victim of a homicide in Riverhead last weekend had been helping to hold together a family that was already dealing with a premature death.
Marta Mansilla of Riverhead said her daughter, Mirian Garcia, "was like a second mother" to the three children of her sister. One of them, who was less than a year old, died of an illness last February.
Mansilla, speaking through a translator, said, "She had many friends and touched the lives of many people." Since the homicide over the weekend "The house has been full with all the people she knew from work, from sports and from her life," she said.
The body of Garcia, 29, of Flanders, was found Monday at 8:20 a.m., at the Riverhead Shopping Center at 200 Old Country Rd., Suffolk police said.
An employee coming to work at the shopping center saw her and called Riverhead police. "There were no obvious signs of violence," said said Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick of Suffolk police.
Garcia, a native of Guatemala, was found not far from Sabor Latina, a night spot where she enjoyed disk jockeying, said a family spokesman and translator, Nicholas Newton of Riverhead.
Garcia, also known as Mirian Yohanna Garcia Mansilla and called Yohanna by her friends, worked at Larry's Lighthouse Marina in Aquebogue doing general boat repair and maintenance, Newton said.
Newton said she was an avid soccer player, playing goalie for a women's soccer team in Cutchogue. She was also interested in martial arts, first training in karate in Guatemala, he said.
Garcia also is survived by her father, Alfonso Garcia of Guatemala; a brother, Alfonso Garcia of Guatemala; and her sister Zully Mansilla of Riverhead.
Visiting hours are scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home, 336 Marcy Ave., Riverhead. Church services are scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Middle Road, Riverhead. Burial will be at a later date in Guatemala.
The Suffolk County medical examiner subsequently "determined the woman's death is a homicide," police said in a news release Tuesday. Police did not say how she was killed.
Garcia was found at a small strip mall with a convenience store, a state Department of Motor Vehicles office, restaurants and a financial institution.