On the afternoon of Friday, June 1st, 15-year-old Hector Hernandez-Valdez went over to a 16-year-old acquaintance’s house in the 800 block of E. 52nd. He was two blocks away from his home. Court papers say he went over there to smoke marijuana. While going upstairs, the two of them got into a fight. The older boy had a knife and stabbed Hector in the head. The older boy’s 14-year-old brother heard the fight and joined in, stabbing Hector in the neck with a large nail. The two brothers then moved Hector to a bathtub, slashed his throat, and stabbed him a total of 34 times.
The boys’ mother arrived home while the boys were cleaning up. She found bloodstained towels in her living room. Initially her sons told her they were cleaning up chili, but eventually showed her Hector’s body. The boys’ mother drove to the police station to report the murder. When she and the police arrived, Hector’s body had been moved to inside a recycling bin. The police questioned the boys and then took them into custody. It is likely they will both be tried as adults. Hector had on him $166 and less than 40 grams of pot which was taken by his killers.
This is the sixth homicide in Tacoma this year and the third one with a teenage victim in the past twelve months. As the father of a teenager, these deaths are particularly tragic to me. I’d love to say that back in my day we didn’t do things like that, but the truth is Tacoma’s crime rate for teenagers was worse when I was a teenager in the mid-90s. That doesn’t lessen the tragedy of deaths like Hector’s. These are our children. The last thing in the world they should have to worry about is being murdered.
And all too often, like in this case, the killers are also young. It’s relatively easy to point fingers at society, video games, music, or parents, but the bottom line is this crime was committed by two teenagers who are responsible for their actions and are being held responsible. My heart goes out to all of the families involved.
As always, the comments section is reserved for those who knew and remember Hector. It is moderated by me and no negative comments will be accepted. There are plenty of other places on the web for that unfortunately.
- Jack Cameron