D.A.S.H. offers insight into domestic dispute case close to home

By Jocelyn Cano

October 30, 2013

Reaction to a local murder is sure to come from everywhere on campus, especially when the case involves domestic violence, an issue which one student group is working hard to fight against.

On Oct. 10, the body of Jasmin Salas, 20, was dumped in Thatcher Woods after she was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Justino Correa, 19.

Correa is accused of brutally stabbing Salas to death during an argument that occurred in their basement in the Humboldt Park neighborhood early Thursday morning. After he killed her, Correa went upstairs to watch television with their daughter and then took her to school. Later that day, he put her body in a garbage bag and placed it in a plastic container and left in the forest preserve on the 8100 block of Chicago Avenue. That same night, he attended Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park to tend some cuts on his hand, where he confessed to the murder of Jasmin Salas. 

“It happened during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and a lot of people don’t understand the prevalence of domestic violence,” Aracelis Sanchez, vice president of Domestic Abuse Stops Here, Dominican’s domestic abuse awareness organization, said. “[People think] it doesn’t happen as much, or if it does it’s more of a private thing. This is the worse consequence that comes from domestic violence. It shows how necessary awareness months like this are, and how necessary groups like ours are, and to let people in our Dominican community, and the Chicagoland area know this stuff happens.”

Salas was expecting a child with her new boyfriend and only had contact with Correa concerning visitation of their daughter. She tried to take the steps necessary to get out of the abusive relationship and was even attending classes to become a social worker. Salas had custody of their daughter, Jaylene, and Correa was battling her in court.

“I was horrified and deeply saddened by the loss of life,” Violet Gallardo, co-president of D.A.S.H., said. “I live a few blocks away from where she was murdered. That’s my neighborhood, and for her to also be found in my Dominican neighborhood, it just really connected.”

The Salas case isn’t the first case of an abusive relationship that has ended horribly in River Forest. In 2005, River Grove resident Dean Sword confessed to the murder of his wife, Lillian. He strangled her and wrapped her body in bed sheets and furniture coverings while their children were sleeping. He also dumped her body in a forest preserve area in River Forest.  

Also in 2005, James F. Pender murdered his wife Therese Pender by a deadly blow to the head with a hammer while she walked on Lake Street and Park Avenue near the River Forest Police Department.  

Sword was sentenced to 65 years in prison, while Pender was sentenced to life without parole. Correa is to appear in court on October 31.  

Co-President of D.A.S.H. Dominique Rodriguez says Correa’s actions were premeditated and a sign that there was ongoing abusive issues with the couple.

“He was thinking about how to get away with it; he deliberately drove somewhere that wasn’t in the neighborhood,” Rodriguez explained.

Rodriguez says there are obvious signs in which people can detect an abusive relationship.  

“If you ever notice that your only spending time with your significant other, regardless of how much you guys claim to love each other, I think that’s a warning sign that perhaps you need to involve other people in your life, and that perhaps you’re being manipulated in ways that you can’t see,” she said. “I would suggest looking out for that.”

“If I feel I have to walk around eggshells around someone and have anxiety then that’s obviously that’s a red flag” Gallardo added. “You accept the love you think you deserve, you are so much more than that. That’s where a lot of these problems lie. People feel like they don’t deserve anything better or they can’t break away from that.”

Throughout the year, D.A.S.H. hosts several programs geared towards helping and supporting people who are or have been in abusive relationships.

“We’re having a lot of information set so people can know that these are the support services that are provided,” Gallardo said. “We’re here as a preventative [to] let people know that this is such an important time in our ages. People are getting into more committed relationships and are getting married, and [need to know] how to avoid those situations. These are shinning moments in our lives that we need to recognize that these are people who are our age. These can be our friends, our sisters, someone who is so close to us, and it could easily be you.”