Abrian Gonzalez visits the grave of his 13-year-old daughter, Maribel, often at East Lawn Cemetery.
The grave is adorned with flowers, a butterfly and a small prayer book.
Some days are unbearable for Gonzalez, 48, who longs to hug and laugh with his daughter. He recalls the good times with Maribel at car races at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix, or seeing her play soccer and softball.
A year ago Saturday, his daughter’s body was found on the east side of North Trico Road, about a half-mile south of West Avra Valley Road, after a Pima County sheriff’s deputy responded to a call about suspicious activity in the area.
The teen was slain. Sheriff’s homicide detectives have not released the cause of death or other information about the unsolved case. It is an active investigation, and the release of any information could be harmful to the case, they say.
Gonzalez said he and Maribel’s mother, Valerie Calonge, will hold a memorial — releasing multicolored balloons — at the grave Saturday at 4 p.m. at East Lawn, 5801 E. Grant Road. Relatives and friends will join them.
Earlier on Saturday, Gonzalez plans to put a stainless-steel cross that he made and painted green at Trico and Avra Valley roads, near the area where Maribel’s body was found.
He asks that anyone with information about Maribel’s slaying contact the Pima County Sheriff’s Department homicide unit, call 911 or 88-CRIME.
Gonzalez, who was under contract as a carpenter and concrete worker at the Morenci mine, said he moved back from Safford to Tucson after his daughter’s killing to be near detectives who are working the case. He now is a concrete worker in construction, and stays in touch with detectives “in case anything comes up,” he said.
“At first, I would talk to detectives almost every day. I used to call them when I remembered something that may have been important information,” he said. “They told me the case is like a puzzle, and they need to put the pieces all together.”
Maribel was last seen June 3 about 8 p.m. when she told her mother she was going to a friend’s house.
Calonge did not hear from her daughter the next day and couldn’t reach her by phone. She called the friend, who said Maribel never arrived at her home,and the teen was reported missing to police.
Since her death, Gonzalez said he learned from investigators that Maribel had more than 4,000 Facebook friends. Many were men who were posing as teen boys. “I think she got involved with the wrong crowd,” he said.
Gonzalez urged parents to stay on top of their children’s social-media accounts. He also asked teens to listen to their parents when they talk to them about not being so open or trustful of strangers.