LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) — To Julian Ramos, it’s not brotherly love talking. It’s fact.
“Marlene was a great person and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister. We’ve been through a lot. She’s always been there for me,” he said.
His sister, Marlene Pizarro, 40, was somebody who focused on the positive and was constantly trying to make progress, according to her brother.
Pizarro did everything for her three children, Ramos said. She was also a rock for him.
“Last year when my dad passed away, she was the one. She was the pillar. She was holding all of us together. Now it’s my turn and my brother’s turn to be the pillar for my mom to be good,” he said.
According to Lake Wales Police, Pizarro and her three children, ages 21, 17, and 11, were killed by her boyfriend, Al Stenson, at Sunrise Park Apartments Tuesday.
Stenson fled to Slumberland Motel in Sanford, where his brother was staying, authorities said. He was shot dead by police Wednesday.
“Justice was served. Not the way I wanted it to be but it was served,” said Ramos.
Ramos declined to comment on Pizarro’s children, but said their mother was an ESE teacher at Lake Wales High School.
“Everybody has told me that she was a great teacher, that she was a great person. It was all in her personality. The way she is, the way she’s always laughing. She was always positive. She was always trying to be positive,” he said.
“She was just such a bright light to us,” said Dr. Lori Hutto who serves on the Lake Wales Charter Schools board of trustees and is the chair of teacher education at Warner University in Lake Wales. Pizarro was one of her students at Warner University.
“We typically start with, ‘Why did you want to be a teacher? Why did you come to Warner University?’ And the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘I want to make a better life for my children,’” said Dr. Hutto.
Pizarro was a virtual student, according to Dr. Hutto, but she still made a big impact.
She would often come meet with her professor in-person, discussing strategies for how to handle different kinds of situations with students with special needs.
“With those students, you tend to develop a deeper bond because you’re not just teaching them the academic side, you’re teaching them life skills,” said Dr. Hutto.
Pizarro had a quality that cannot be taught, Dr. Hutto said. She had the heart of a teacher.
“That’s what I want her to be remembered for. Not the horrific way she died, but the amazing way she lived. Just all that she poured into not just her students but her other faculty members, really anyone that encountered her,” she said.
Pizarro’s family is now raising money so they can bury her in Puerto Rico.
Lake Wales police are continuing to investigate the case.