Miami mother, two daughters found dead in closet; husband charged
A neighbor found their bodies a week ago.
Gladys Del Carmen Sierra, 29, had been stuffed into a closet in her Miami home with her two daughters, aged 4 and 6. They’d all been suffocated to death. More days went by without an arrest.
Miami-Dade County Police now think they know what happened, because they think they’ve found the killer, and they say he’s confessed.
Alberto Sierra, Gladys’ estranged 28-year-old husband, stands a slender 6 feet tall and bears the name “Eleggua” on his left arm -- a powerful Santeria demigod and a messenger known among adherents for playing tricks and making trouble. Sierra had done his own share of troublemaking over the past decade, according to Miami-Dade court records, repeatedly getting convicted on assault, drug and weapons charges, with the latest conviction coming in May for possessing guns as a felon.
In what police caled a “full confession,” Sierra described what happened during a Nov. 10 trip to the Mall of the Americas, a sprawling galleria just off the expressway near Miami International Airport.
Alberto and Gladys Sierra went there with the two girls and got into an argument that led to Alberto Sierra getting out his knife, police said in their formal arrest report, adding of Gladys: “The adult victim sustained injuries as a result of argument.”
Arguments were not new to Gladys Sierra, a registrar at a local beauty school who was known to friends as Gladys Machado, according to the Miami Herald.
Friends called her a good mother who had suffered her share of domestic strife, including a contentious separation from the children’s father in 2010. She later married Alberto Sierra, but it was a troubled relationship.
Alberto Sierra was accused of domestic battery against her in October 2010 and of biting one of the girls on the arm in October 2011, according to the Herald.
This time, after hurting her at the mall, Alberto Sierra drove Gladys Sierra and her two daughters -- who weren’t his -- to their house, which he no longer lived in, police said.
He locked the girls in a bedroom while he suffocated his wife with a plastic bag and then sexually assaulted her, police said.
He let one daughter out of the bedroom, police said, and suffocated her with a plastic bag; then found the other daughter and did the same while she slept. Police said he then sexually assaulted the first girl.
Their bodies then sat in the closet long enough that a smell drew the attention of a neighbor, police said.
On Monday, police said, they arrested Sierra at his home, and -- after he was told he had the right to remain silent -- Sierra confessed to what he’d done.
He now faces three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of sexual battery against an adult and a minor.
Must-read stories from the L.A. Times
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.