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Mom elated, aunt has mixed emotions over Barbara "Barbie" Torres killer's capture

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Mar 15 2013 10:15:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 16 2013 06:35:54 AM CDT

It's a day some thought would never come. Now that Miguel Torres is in custody, people are praying for justice for Barbara "Barbie" Torres.

It's a day some thought would never come. Now that Miguel Torres is in custody, people are praying for justice for Barbara "Barbie" Torres.

Barbie's sister said her mom, Cathy, is elated by the news that her daughter's suspected killer, Miguel Torres, was captured Friday morning in Bologna, Italy.

The family also expressed appreciation to the various local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies' work over the last seven years.

With all the emotion, the family said it's not yet ready to do interviews with the media but will speak out once Torres is back on American soil.

But a close family friend, a woman Barbie called her aunt shared what it was like when they all learned Mikey was caught.

"I feel happy, I feel very sad too," said Diana Rivera-O'Bryant, "I feel sad because it's been very hard for her mom for Cathy to accept the fact that Barbie is truly gone."

Rivera-O'Bryant has a photo sitting on her coffee table of Barbie Torres, herself and Cathy Lebron, Barbie's mom.

"It's a beautiful reminder to me of a precious life," said Rivera-O'Bryant.

It's from the day Barbie married Miguel Torres or Mikey.

"She said she wanted me she wanted her Didi, me, to be her matron of honor," said Rivera-O'Bryant.

But a year later Barbie's husband would be wanted for her murder.

"It's very difficult every year that we have to go and celebrate her life at the vigils," said Rivera-O'Bryant.

The yearly vigils are held in the same parking lot Barbie Torres was gunned down.

"I did not think personally that I would see this day," said Rivera-O'Bryant.

Rivera-O'Bryant lost her own son to murder.

"It's going to be eight years tomorrow that my son was murdered," said Rivera-O'Bryant, "It's going to be eight years, September the 12th of 2005 that Barbie was murdered."

She said Barbie took care of her after she lost Jamar O'Bryant.

"Sometimes I used to say to her, 'Barbie, you can't help everyone.'"

Because so much time has passed, Rivera-O'Bryant said she and Cathy would talk about whether Mikey would ever be tracked down.

"And today when we learned that they caught him the reality truly hit that she is gone," said Rivera-O'Bryant. 

"Now I think the family can sit back and know that he's captured now, and he's going to pay for what he did," said Barry Rohrbach, president, Crime Alert Berks County, which had offered a cash reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to Torres' arrest.

At Berks Women in Crisis there was a similar sentiment.

"I can't imagine how they must feel, but we're glad for them that this day has finally come as well," said Christine Gilfillan, the associate director at BWIC.

Gilfillan said what happened to Barbie Torres seven years ago has been a story that has haunted them and victims of domestic violence.

"She had obtained a protection order. She had left him, which we all know is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. That's when abuse or violence will escalate. That's when people are typically killed," said Gilfillan, "None of us will forget that ad he placed in the newspaper with their wedding photo.

I think it was the morning she was killed or the day before she was killed saying, 'I'll love you forever.'"

She said at Berks Women in Crisis people were cheering when they heard the manhunt for Miguel Torres ended in Italy.

"You heard about him every now and then, but it didn't seem hopeful that they would find him," said Gilfillan, "So, I think people were surprised at the level of emotion that they felt."

And in that emotion there was also sadness for Barbie Torres.

"It's sad to remember, her life, 31 years old," said Gilfillan, "It's just sad to remember she had to lose her life." 

Miguel Torres shot and killed his wife execution-style outside the former Wachovia Bank where she worked on North 6th Street in downtown Reading on Sept. 12, 2005, police said.

Torres is now in the custody of Italian authorities, awaiting extradition to the United States on murder charges, said officials with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Barbie Torres' family said it's been an emotional seven years.  Cathy LeBron said she would be ready to speak once she knows Miguel Torres is back on American soil.