MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The estranged husband of a woman whose body was found in a closet in a Northwest Miami-Dade home, along with the bodies of her two young daughters, has been charged in their murders and was denied bond at his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Miami-Dade Police say that estranged husband—Alberto Sierra—has confessed and are calling it one of the more heinous crimes in recent memory in Miami-Dade.
“It’s unfortunate that I have to stop and think, when was the last time something so heinous happened in Miami-Dade. I can’t remember,” said Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman, Lt. Rosanna Cordero Stutz.
“At the end of the day, this crime went beyond what any reasonable person might think,” she told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “It’s a disturbing story that has affected this community. I am proud of the detectives who went above and beyond in their work to arrest him.”
Sierra, 28, is facing three counts of first degree murder, one count of sexual battery of an adult and one count of sexual battery of a child.
During his appearance in bond court Sierra, flanked by two officers, nervously bit his lip and told the judge he was broke.
“Can you afford an attorney,” asked the judge.
“No,” replied Sierra.
“Do you have a bank account,” asked the judge.
“No,” said Sierra.
“Do you work,” asked the judge.
“How do you support yourself,” the judge asked.
“I live with my mom,” said Sierra.
Sierra was arrested at the Kendall apartment where he said he lives with his mother.
According to Sierra’s arrest affidavit, on November 10th he went with Gladys Del Carmen Sierra and her two daughters, four-year-old Daniela and six-year-old Julia, to the Mall of the Americas on West Flagler Street. While there the couple got into an argument.
Sierra reportedly pulled a knife and Del Carmen Sierra “sustained injuries as a result of the argument,” according to the report.
He then drove Del Carmen Sierra to a home she and girls had recently moved into at 7310 NW 4th Street. He allegedly forced them into the house and locked the girls in a bedroom. Sierra then took Del Carmen Sierra to the master bedroom.
“At that time he used a plastic bag to asphyxiate Gladys and after that he sexually assaulted her,” said police spokeswoman Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz.
He then went to the bedroom where the girls were, let one older one out and suffocated her with a plastic bag.
“He asphyxiated one of them also with a plastic bag then he went back into the bedroom where he had left the youngest child and asphyxiated her with a plastic bag then he returned to the oldest girl and raped her as well,” said Cordero-Stutz.
A neighbor complained of a foul odor coming from the home a few days later and found Del Carmen Sierra’s in a closet next to her two girls.
“This was a long process,” said Cordero-Stutz. “We had to process the crime scene, check DNA and fingerprints and do interviews. Homicide detectives had to do some hard work to make sure we had a strong case. It was apparent that we did because after we took him into custody, he confessed.”
Cordero-Stutz said there was no evidence that Sierra had been taking drugs. She also said that more charges against Sierra are possible. She said detectives are “still working hard to put the total case together.”
Sierra is expected to come before a Judge again within the next 21 days.
CBS4 reached out to his mother but she said she did not want to comment.
Del Carmen Sierra’s loved ones had hoped an arrest would be made.
“I just wish someone would fess up,” said Odalys Machado, the victim’s sister, when she spoke with D’Oench last Friday. “We need to find whoever did this. Someone needs to pay for this. That’s all I want to happen. My sister was a good mother who loved her kids very much. I don’t understand why this happened.”
Del Carmen Sierra’s 6-year-old son was safe with his grandmother.
Records show Sierra was released from jail on June 22, after serving 364 days.
Sierra was questioned several times by police before his arrest.
Odalys Machado said Gladys had been dating another man since she became estranged from Sierra.
Sierra has an arrest record dating back to 2005 that includes arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, selling cocaine and the illegal possession of weapons by a convicted felon.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reported that he had been arrested for domestic battery in 2010 after he reportedly bit Del Carmen Sierra on the forearm and stole her gun.
A similar allegation surfaced from Michael Padrino, who is Del Carmen Sierra’s previous husband and the father of the girls.
In a letter to the judge in the custody case in October, 2011, Padrino said he felt his childrens’ lives were in danger. He based that after one of his daughters reportedly told a state child welfare worker that Sierra had bitten her on the arm.
But the judge refused to grant Padrino full custody of the children, saying that while the Department of Children and Families had removed the children from Del Carmen Sierra’s home during an investigation, the agency later returned them to the home.
On Tuesday night, friends of the victims gathered outside the home where the murders occurred. They lit candles, prayed and left photos of the victims.
Melissa Saavedra said the new allegations emerging in the case against Alberto Sierra are almost too painful to grasp.
“He really needs to pay for the stuff he did to them,” Saavedra told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “The way that he made them suffer. The more that we find out the harder it is for us to cope with it. ”
Saavedra said she worries about how Del Carmen Sierra’s 6-year-old son will handle life without his mother and sisters.
“He knows that his mom is with the angels and his response was, ‘They’re not coming back are they?'” Saavedra said.