Yetlsenia Nunez has not slept well since she first learned of the death of her sister, 30-year-old Diana Eichler of New Britain, who was found over the summer facedown in the water under a bridge in a remote, wooded area of Middletown.
Diana, whose adoptive mother Marjorie is the founder of There's No Place Like Home, a New Haven-based child-placement agency, was adopted when she was in the second grade.
Hikers enjoying a trail leading to a bucolic waterfall just up from a 9-hole golf course made a grisly discovery on June 19 after following a substance along the ground that appeared to be blood, according to Middletown Police.
Diana's body was discovered at Westfield Falls, just up the road from the Miner Hills Golf Course, just before 1 p.m. that day. The cause of death was found to be trauma to the head, according to the medical examiner.
Today, four months later, no suspect has been identified and the victim's family is desperate for answers.
“We just want to find the monster who did this and make sure justice is served,” said Diana's younger brother, Romelo Eichler.
“We do have leads but nothing new that we can release to the public at this time,” said Middletown Police Lt. Heather Desmond. There are people of interest, she acknowledged, and the case “is still open, under investigation. These things don’t happen overnight. As leads come in, [major investigations detectives] go out and follow up.”
It took police three days to identify Diana's body, following an autopsy and fingerprint analysis. Turns out, her most marked characteristic was a rose tattoo on her rear shoulder with the name, "Melissa."
When Marjorie saw news reports about an unidentified Hispanic woman who had been found dead, she said she “had a feeling,” but didn’t know that Diana had a tattoo inspired by her 25-year-old sister, Melissa. Days later, when police told her it was Diana, Marjorie gathered all the children together.
“Everybody was in my bedroom and I told them and they said they couldn’t believe it. They said, ‘Ma, why are you saying this?’ Some collapsed; their legs just gave out.”
In early July, Middletown Police released a photograph of a car they say may have been involved in the homicide. The vehicle, a blue, two-door Acura sedan, was recently involved in a front-end crash, according to a statement from police, and may now have a red hood and front bumper.
Diana’s large adoptive family buried her on June 26 following a service at Trinity Church in New Britain. Marjorie joined her 20 adopted sisters and brothers for the funeral.
Diana’s daughter Aaliyah, who recently turned six, lives with Marjorie in New Haven. She's had custody of the girl for four years. Marjorie says Diana suffered from some mental health issues, adding that she had Aaliyah "so Diana could work on her issues."
"She cries sometimes," Marjorie says of her granddaughter.
Melissa, who appears to have been the closest to Diana, has been dreaming about her sister a lot lately. “I just hope somebody steps forward. It’s clear somebody knows,” she says.
Marjorie echoes that sentiment. “I hope they catch whoever did this so I can face them in the courts.”
Diana’s biological sister, Nunez, lives in New York and didn’t find out about her death until more than two months had passed. The pair's biological mother, who is elderly and infirm, still does not know, according to Nunez.
Nunez says she reconnected with Diana about seven years ago after she searched for her on the Internet, found her on Facebook and eventually spoke on the telephone. “I saw her four to five years ago and talked to her last year on her birthday,” Nunez said. She met with Veronica and Melissa in New Haven in September.
Nunez’s teenage son was especially affected by his aunt’s death and wrote a touching poem about her. Nunez, who chokes up when she reads the poem, said she is also sad for her niece.
“It feels terrible,” she said. “She didn’t deserve it. I really, really would like to know why. That’s the especially big one.”
Nunez said her sister was named after an ambulance technician who helped her mother deliver her little sister. “She was born at home on my bed in Brooklyn.”
By all accounts, Diana Eichler was a kind person who befriended people who others wouldn’t. She was very artistic and drew all throughout high school. Recently, she used her talent to braid people’s hair. It’s how she made a little money, Melissa said.
Her sister, Veronica, 29, said, “her braids looked so sophisticated.” And, she said, Diana had a sense of humor. “She was very quiet, very goofy, she was silly,” Veronica said. “When we were kids, she would draw my name beautifully in bubble letters and hearts.”
As for the tattoo, her little sister Melissa says, it was very meaningful. “She wanted to put my name to show that she had my back. We talked three times a week.” Melissa has since gotten a cross tattoo on her arm in honor of her sister.
And she’s preparing for another one. “I’m going to get her daughter’s name on the back of my shoulder.”
Melissa is emotional when she talks about her big sister. “I just want the person who did this to have a death sentence. She didn’t need that. She has a daughter and sisters and brothers who care about her.”
Like some of the other siblings, Veronica has begun feel as though Middletown police have stopped aggressively investigating Diana's death. “Me and Melissa used to call the detectives all the time. They’ve stopped answering our calls.
“It’s a shame with all the technology they have, they have to find somebody. Was there nothing on her body that leads to another person?”
Marjorie says she still calls Middletown Police and the medical examiner's office, looking for answers.
And Veronica is adamant about finding out who took her sister from the family. “All I want for Christmas is to know that they have someone in custody. The way that she was killed, it was up-close and personal. It was nothing random. I will not accept that it was her time.”
The homicide investigation is still ongoing and police are asking that anyone with information contact the Middletown Police Department at (860) 344-3200.
Related stories on Middletown Patch
- Police Seek More Help In Investigation Of Diana Eichler’s Death
- Police Seek Car Possibly Involved in Eichler Homicide
- Middletown Homicide Victim Buried as Police Search for Suspect
- Middletown Police Confirm Woman's Death Unrelated to June Homicide
- Police ID Middletown Homicide Victim as New Britain Woman
- PD: Autopsy Today on Female Homicide Victim Found in Middletown
- Police Release Middletown Homicide Victim Tattoo Photo
- PD: Autopsy Today on Female Homicide Victim Found in Middletown