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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — For nearly a week in September, the disappearance of Tanya Gonzalez captivated South Florida as friends and family pleaded almost nightly for help locating the 28-year-old.
“I know what hell feels like and I’m in it right now, until I find my daughter it’s not going to stop,” said her father, Ramon Gonzalez.
“I just want my daughter to come home,” said her mother, Tamara.
“We need as much help as anybody can give us,” said her stepfather, Steven Buonomo.
Tanya’s story hit a chord because she was Miami’s version of the girl next door – young and beautiful with loving family and friends. If she could go missing – who was safe?
The family hired their own investigators – focusing on an ex-boyfriend, Roy Blanco.
A week after she disappeared their worst fears were realized – Tanya’s body was found in the trunk of her abandoned car. By then the case had even drawn the attention of Senator Marco Rubio.
“And I have real concerns about whether local law enforcement did everything it could in those first 48 to 72 hours to follow every lead,” Rubio said.
Tanya’s story however is not done being told.
CBS4 News has learned Gonzalez died in room 117 of The Starlite West Motel on Southwest Eighth Street sometime between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on September 10th.
Although Tanya’s family believed she had cut off all contact with her ex-boyfriend, it is now clear she went to the motel to meet Blanco.
According to a police source familiar with the investigation, security video at the motel shows Blanco arriving around 1 a.m. A few minutes later, Tanya pulled into the parking lot in the her blue BMW. The two hugged and walked into the motel room together.
Final autopsy results are still pending, but police suspect Blanco either strangled or smothered Tanya.
He then wrapped her body in the bedspread, placed her in the trunk of her car and drove off – leaving it on a side street four or five blocks away. The motel security video reportedly shows Blanco walking back into the parking lot just before dawn, getting in his car and driving away.
“I cannot imagine life without her,” her father said before her body was discovered.
Two days before his daughter’s body was found, as he still held out hope she was alive, Ramon Gonzalez detailed the turbulent relationship between Tanya and Blanco – a relationship that seemed to start with so much promise.
“She met this young man, tall dark handsome,” Gonzalez recalled.
Tanya, who grew up in New Jersey, was on vacation in Miami when she first met Blanco a little more than five years ago, her father said.
A recent immigrant from Cuba, Blanco had dreams of being a telenovela star.
“Things took their course, she fell in love with the young man and for the first time she asked us that she wanted to move here to be closer to him and that’s how she ended up here,” he explained.
He was six years older than her, highly jealous and controlling. She complained that he would read her texts, eavesdrop on her phone calls and follow her from work.
“This relationship was now not only bad for her but dangerous to her,” he said.
A pattern emerged: They would fight, she would threaten to leave him but he would convince her to stay.
“Every time they would have a quarrel, an argument, he would come back begging for reconciliation, crying and forth she gave in,” he said. “She would give in.”
A few months ago, Blanco wanted to read her text messages and elbowed her hard in the ribs to take her phone from her. That was it. She moved in with her aunt in Miami. After a few weeks Tanya got her own apartment – and on September 9th, she went with her aunt to Midtown to pick out some decorations for her new place.
Phone records reveal that on that same day there were a series of calls between Tanya and Blanco.
Blanco’s obsession with Tanya was evident in other actions. Police believe he purchased tracking devices and surveillance equipment at a local spy Store to monitor Tanya’s movements. He may have even hired a private investigator to follow her. If he did, he would have learned that she had begun dating someone else.
Five days before she went missing – five days before she met Roy Blanco at the Starlite Motel – Ramon said she warned her daughter to stay safe and to stay away from Blanco. She promised she would. He said he would see her soon.
“I love you mamita, I’ll talk to you a few days,” he recalled saying, adding, “I never talked to her after that.”
We may never know what took place inside Room 117. Did Blanco arrive with the intention of killing her or did he lose control? On September 16th, the same day Tanya’s body was discovered in Miami, Blanco died from a knife wound in the Florida Keys.
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