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Family grieves after tragic week

Kin set for return, burial in Ecuador

By Miriam Valverde
Globe Correspondent / February 21, 2011

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BROCKTON — Dozens of relatives and friends walked into Manuel Tenezaca’s apartment yesterday offering bags of groceries, gestures of condolence, and support for his family’s losses.

As visitors entered, they shook hands with others sitting around two tables set up to honor his 25-year-old son, Luis Gilberto Tenezaca Palaguachi, who died Thursday after falling off a roof while working in New Bedford, and Maria Avelina Palaguachi-Cela, 25, and her 2-year-old son, Brian, whose battered bodies were found in a Dumpster behind their home last Sunday.

The tables, laden with flowers and candles, were set with pillows covered with delicate white cloth edged with lace representing the three family members.

All three bodies are expected to be flown back to Cañar, a small province in Ecuador, after a joint service and funeral Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Brockton this week, Tenezaca said.

“They are all going to go back together, they are family,’’ Tenezaca said.

Tenezaca continuously checked the cellphone strapped to his belt, expecting a call from the morgue telling him when his son’s body would be released.

Tenezaca, Palaguachi-Cela’s brother-in-law, said he was told the body would be released either late last night or today.

He said despite his loss and sorrow, he remains grateful to be in this country. “We come to this country to struggle,’’ he said. “Sometimes [in this country] we succeed, sometimes we fail.’’

On one table, flames flickered on 10 candles set next to flowers, a teddy bear, and photos of Palaguachi-Cela and her son. Candles and flowers on the other table were in remembrance of Luis Gilberto Tenezaca Palaguachi.

Relatives and neighbors sat quietly, mourning the losses, occasionally speaking to each other in Quechua, an aboriginal language spoken in Ecuador.

“We are from an indigenous culture, and we leave to find a better future,’’ Tenezaca said. “But sometimes we end up losing.’’

Tenezaca said that many of the visitors were neighbors who heard about the deaths and immediately came over to demonstrate communal support. Some of them he had never met.

“Today it’s for me, tomorrow it’s for you,’’ Tenezaca said of the support.

The family declined to comment about Luis A. Guaman Cela, a native of Ecuador who authorities say was the last person to see Palaguachi-Cela and her son alive and who is wanted for questioning in their deaths.

According to authorities in Massachusetts, Guaman took a plane to Ecuador from New York just a few hours after the bodies were discovered.

Guaman is awaiting trial in Ecuador on charges of using false travel documentation.

The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office determined that the deaths were homicide caused by trauma to the brain.

The case remains under investigation by State Police, Brockton Police, and the Plymouth County district attorney’s office.

A director from the Russell & Pica Funeral Home said he expects services will be held within a few days.

“Death is something you don’t want to talk about,’’ Tenezaca said, “but sometimes it just comes without you expecting it.’’

Miriam Valverde can be reached at mvalverde@globe.com.