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Daughters recall 'loving' mother; say she 'didn't deserve to die': Exclusive

Nilda Rivera, 57, was stabbed 25 times by a boyfriend.

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — As an accused murderer sits in a jail cell, a New Britain family sits around the kitchen table for the first time without a mother.

The family of Nilda Rivera, who was stabbed to death Monday in Hartford, told FOX61 they had a strange feeling around their mom's boyfriend but never thought he was capable of murder.

“My mom was just looking for love,” remarked Daniella Valle, Rivera’s daughter. The 57-year-old former certified nurses’ assistant invested her love in faith and family. 

“She was a mother. She was a grandmother. She was a friend,” added Valle.

Valle and Rivera’s other daughter Yaitza Casanova sat down with FOX61 around the family’s kitchen table. 

“Everywhere you look, it’s her,” said Casanova.

The color red is everywhere in the house. It was Rivera’s favorite color. She also loves apples and making homemade Spanish food. The daughters recalled happy memories of a recent birthday. 

“She was so happy. We were all together,” said Casanova.

That happiness is now replaced by confusion and anger. 

“I hope that they do to him what he did to my mother and he suffers slowly,” said Casanova.

Nilda Rivera was stabbed 25 times in Hartford Monday. Pedro Grajalez was charged with murder and arraigned Monday.

“He was very jealous,” recalled Casanova. “He would look in her phone and delete stuff and go on her social media and delete people.”

Grajalez and Rivera were in an on-again, off-again relationship. They met on social media. 

“He cried to me,” recalled Valle of Grajalez. “He talked about how he would never hurt my mother. But that’s exactly what he did.”

According to arrest warrants, Grajalez, “watched as Rivera gasped for air,” and before driving her body to the Hartford Police Department to confess his crime, told officers he was, “planning to murder her for several days.”

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“I wake up every day just hoping it’s a nightmare,” said Valle. 

Now, without a mom, the daughters are trying to make sense of the senseless. 

“The worst chapter of my life,” added Valle. “I love you forever and a day and always will."

Valle and Casanova told me they are planning a vigil for their mother at the Hartford Police Headquarters on Thursday at 6 p.m. They’ve also started a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of funeral expenses.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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