Kattia Vargas Azofeifa, 44, was tired of the violence and abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, and on Monday (yesterday) she was going to file a complaint against him for domestic violence.
She never made it carry out her intention. Her lifeless body was discovered Sunday at noon, after neighbors called police of an abnormal situation in the house, confirmed Martín Pérez, deputy chief of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) of San Carlos.
The couple had been married since December 2005 and had three children, but their marriage was on the rocks for some time.
The OIJ report says Kattia had asked her husband for a divorce. At first, he did not accept the situation, but after a change of heart he asked of his wife that she give him (title) to the house, custody of the children and support of ¢100,000 colones monthly.
Kattia did not accept, authorities said. Relatives told the police that Kattia had decided to file charges against her husband, alleging that she was assaulted in the house and had become tired of the situation. They lived under the same roof.
Sunday afternoon, the man, identified by his last name Corella Alvarado, 41, was arrested by police while with his children at the central park in Cuidad Quesada. Initial reports said the man gave himself up to police.
The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI) – child welfare agency – reported Monday that the three children, aged 10, 8 and 6, are receiving psychological treatment, have been made aware of the death of their mother (they were not home at the time) and are in the custody of the maternal grandparents.
What led up to the tragedy?
The investigators piecing together situation, after inspecting the scene and talking to neighbors and Kattia’s family, determined the victim worked the Saturday night shift at the San Carlos hospital where she was a nurse, arriving home at 6:30 am. Kattia had worked at the hospital for almost 20 years.
Apparently, as soon as she entered the house she was physically assaulted by her husband. Her screams led neighbors to be concerned. Authorities presume that at the time the children were asleep.
Wálter Espinoza, of the OIJ, said Corella’s sister told investigators that she saw her brother, around 8:00 am, having breakfast with the children. Kattia was not there. He added that until Sunday there was no formal complaint filed for domestic violence.
The man later left with the children and was arrested in the Ciudad Quesada central park by police, after they had learned of the murder.
“We found the body in one of the bathrooms of the house (…) she had received blows to the whole body, in the face, abdomen, chest, we will have to wait for the necropsy to determine the cause of death,” said Espinoza. “We need to verify if she was submerged in the toilet because the body had a foam fungus that is typical with drowning.”
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Kattia Vargas is the 25th victim of femicide (death at the hands of their spouses or current partners) this year.
Last year there were 26 femicides recorded and 261 cases between 2007 and 2015, the OIJ reported.
Eugenia Salazar Elizondo, deputy prosecutor specializing in gender-based violence said that the best recommendation she can give to an abused woman is to not communicate any intention of filing a complaint. “That is like giving notice (to the aggressor) and in practice can trigger violence and even death, as in San Carlos,” said Salazar.
Salazar explained that, according to the level of risk, a safety plan can be drawn up for the victim, in which it is best for her not to return home and stay with family.
“We can, depending on the case, ask the Fuerza Publica (national police) to increase the patrol for the house she is staying at and we give her the direct number of the nearest police delegation for a more direct contact,” the prosecutor said.