YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Sunday afternoon, an ex-wife of Sharpsville murder suspect Antonio Velazquez-Rupert talked exclusively with WKBN.
Higinia Rodriguez, who now lives well outside the Valley, spoke through Video Chat about the violence of Velazquez-Rupert — who was arrested Dec. 31 and charged with homicide and kidnapping after he allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend Amanda Downs, 28, and took their eight-month old daughter.
Rodriguez said on that New Year’s Eve day, her daughter got a phone call about the 36-year-old Velazquez-Rupert.
“She came screaming to my room saying, ‘Daddy killed Mandy! Daddy killed Mandy!'” Rodriguez said. “And my whole body just started shaking.”
Rodriguez said that moment brought her back to one day eight years ago in 2009. Velazquez-Rupert had been arrested that morning for simple assault.
It’s when she says she had the courage to walk out.
“That’s when I took my children and we packed up whatever we can pack up. And we left,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez was with Velazquez-Rupert for seven years — married for three.
During that time, she says he was abusive to her and their daughter. She filed several restraining orders against him, but that didn’t make a difference.
“I didn’t want to be in that relationship,” Rodriguez said. “But I just didn’t know how to leave. I’ve been in shelters — I went to shelters — but he used to always find me.”
Rodriguez said she and her daughter spoke with Downs often, saying she was an amazing woman.
“She was a really loving mom,” she said. “She was dying to see my daughter. She was just a really great person.”
Rodriguez said it scares her to think about what could have happened if she hadn’t escaped.
“Not only me, my daughter,” she said. “They were like, ‘Mom, thank God you left and you took us out of there, because that could have been you.'”
Velazquez-Rupert is jailed in Mercer County. Rodriguez hopes he stays there — for good.
“I don’t want him to get out,” she said. “Because there are a lot of people that [are] scared of him. His sister’s scared of him. One of his brother’s scared of him. His mother’s scared of him. My daughter’s scared of him. I’m scared of him. Everybody’s scared of him.”