Faces of Milpas

Two police officers familiar with the case told New Timesin separate interviews that they understood Davalos' body was in poor condition, making it difficult to read the tattoos and quickly make a positive identification.

"It was my understanding that the tattoos weren't clearly legible because he had been there for a while," says Central City precinct commander Klima.

"A large part of it was his skin had bloated up a bit and his tattoos were kind of hard to discern," says detective Derek Stephenson, who oversaw the March 31 roundup of gang members which was to include Davalos.

Davalos' March 22 autopsy report, however, notes numerous tattoos, including "LCM" across the stomach. There is no mention in the report of the body being bloated.

Myra Rosales, who viewed his body before the funeral, also says his tattoos were clearly visible, which should have led police to her door much sooner.

"We don't get how it took 11 days for them to notify us," she says.

A review of police reports prepared by lead homicide detective Olson raises more questions than it answers concerning the sequence of events.

Olson repeatedly fails to document key times and dates related to Davalos' murder. For example, in a report dated March 26, Olson notes, "we were unable to identify the victim through fingerprints" and that the prints were sent to the FBI for examination. He does not state when he concluded the prints could not be identified nor when the prints were sent to the FBI.

In the next paragraph, Olson states that detective Bailey looked at a photo of the victim, recognized him and found a police record matching his fingerprints. But, once again, Olson does not state the time or date.

Olson states in the March 26 report that he notified the family of Davalos' death. Once again, he gives no time or date.

However, in a supplemental report prepared by Olson on April 17, he states that the notification occurred at 1 p.m. on March 31, a time and date confirmed by the family.

Olson refused to respond to requests for an interview, deferring all questions to police spokesmen.

Asked why Olson did not record dates and times of significant developments in the case, police spokesman Sergeant Bob Ragsdale says such developments may not be all that important.

"Detective Oslon knows what he's doing. He's one of our finest homicide detectives," says Ragsdale.

Asked why Olson makes reference to notifying the family on March 31 in a report dated March 26, Ragsdale says the date on the report doesn't necessarily correspond with the time it was prepared.

"The report was started on March 26. It was kept in draft form. He added to the original report," says Ragsdale.

Myra Rosales believes the circumstances surrounding notification of her brother's death are related to the police roundup.

On the evening of March 31, police held a second briefing for the community; more than 100 residents were told about the arrests. Rosales says her older brother, Alex Rosales, a former parole officer, asked police why the family wasn't notified sooner.

"My brother, he talked to the sergeant and he told him that the reason they didn't tell us earlier was because they wanted to do the sweep first and then tell us," Myra Rosales says. "But why? My brother had been missing for 11 days. I don't get it. They knew who he was."

Myra's House

By John Dougherty

Norberto Rosales Davalos' murder is another in a series of tumultuous events that have engulfed Myra Rosales' young life.

The 23-year-old single mother of five children lives with four of her kids, her mother and grandmother in a small, drafty stone house on East Cocopah Street. An electric space heater warms the living room and adjoining kitchen. Scores of photographs -- mostly of children -- line the walls and bookshelves. Myra's 10-month-old baby, Joeanna, crawls across the floor, occasionally pulling herself upright before her knees give way and she drops to the floor, landing on her bottom.

A stream of children -- including 4-year-old Beto, son of her late brother -- tumble through the front door and poke their heads out of an adjacent bedroom.

Rosales' aunt lives next door, and Beto's mom, Gina Garcia, two doors down. More than a score of other relatives are scattered throughout the close-knit Milpas barrio.

"I have 28 kids in the immediate family," Rosales says. "Just to have a party, there is no need to invite friends."

Her mother, Natalia, 51, entered the United States more than three decades ago from Nogales, Sonora. Natalia is also a single mother, raising three sons and Myra.

Natalia's mother, Imidana, 78, rounds out four generations of women and children in a house where men are absent -- except for photographs on the wall.

"I don't have a husband, no boyfriend, no nothing. I'm lonely," Natalia says in a cheerful yet resigned tone. "I'm looking for one."

She works two days a week as a beautician and spends much of her time taking care of children and her mother.

Her son's unsolved death torments her. "I just want to know who did it," she says.

The lack of suspects combined with the unusual length of time it took police to notify the family of his death fuel her suspicion that the police were somehow involved.

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