Friends remember Garibay
If there is anything Cristina Topete will remember about her best friend, Chairo Garibay, it's the luminescent personality. Garibay's smile brought smiles to others. Her laugh and giggling drew people to her, and her warm personality put others at ease.
“She was a beautiful person. She brought light to everyone's life. She continues to brighten up people's lives,” Topete said Thursday night. “Being around her brightened your day. She gave off a good vibe. She was always positive, even when she was mad or sad.”
It was an evening of memories and support for Garibay, 20, who was found dead from blunt force trauma to the head on Jan. 16 in a drainage ditch a quarter-mile from her Maplehurst Street home in Olivehurst.
Hundreds of people milled around Topete, joined at a spaghetti dinner benefit for Garibay's family at Yuba Gardens Intermediate School in Olivehurst.
During the last two weeks, students and teachers at Arboga Elementary and Yuba Gardens schools raised money for the family. Officials from both schools presented nearly $4,000 in checks to the family during the event.
Magdalena Ferreyra, Garibay's mother, was overcome by the outpouring of concern for her family.
“I'm very sad that something like this happened, but I'm happy at the way the community's come together to support us,” Ferreyra said through Angie Martinez, a victim advocate with the Yuba County Victim Witness Program. “I'm very grateful to the community, and I don't know how to repay them.”
The killing has confounded law enforcement officials and baffled Garibay's loved ones.
Garibay disappeared from her home Dec. 11 under suspicious circumstances. A nature photographer discovered a family car dumped in the Bear River the same morning.
She disappeared without a trace until motorists stuck in the mud on a dirt road found her body.
Garibay's family and law enforcement agencies are still searching for answers.
“We are still very aggressively going forward with the investigations,” said Yuba County Undersheriff Steve Durfor. The department has gathered evidence and interviewed people, but no suspect has been arrested.
“We're praying the person who did this is found soon, so nobody else has to go through this horrible experience.” said Maria Yepez, Garibay's aunt. “She did not deserve what she went through.”
Ferreyra and her husband, Leonel Castillo Jacobo, sat with other family at the front of the Yuba Gardens multipurpose room. They greeted well-wishers with hugs and handshakes.
Standing at a table near the family, Yepez recalled how Garibay used to baby-sit her children and would sometimes take Yepez' son to the store just to buy him a snack.
“Her family was very special to her,” Yepez said, adding that kindness was part of Garibay's personality. “She would always offer you a drink or a seat.”
Tereso Villalobos, another of Garibay's friends, knew her for seven years.
“She was always happy, always warm,” he said. “She was the nicest girl you'd ever meet. She was the type to do something for a friend, even if she didn't want to do it.”
Friends are planning an event for Garibay in April, when she would have turned 21 years old, he said. Friends have not worked out the details yet, he said.
“She's in a better place,” Villalobos said. “Thank God she isn't suffering.”
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.