Young Widow of Highway Murder Victim Speaks - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/17/06

Young Widow of Highway Murder Victim Speaks

Lila Silas Lila Silas

A murder suspect remains free this evening. Deputies believe three men forced a car off the road and beat the passenger to death in Evans County Thursday night. Two men are in custody. WTOC returned today to talk with the victim's widow as she hopes to help catch her husband's killer.

Looking for justice, planning a husband's funeral and raising two children would be enough for anyone, let alone someone not old enough to vote.

At 16, Lila Silas might look more like a babysitter than a mother, let alone a mother of two. Now she's a grieving single mom after the murder of her husband. Thursday night, someone ran Juan Silas and a friend off the road. When the wreck didn't kill Juan, three attackers finished him a few yards from the car.

Later that night, Lila learned she was a widow. "I asked them to tell me what's going on," she said. "They told me he was deceased and I didn't know what they meant. I asked them what that meant and they said he'd been killed."

She wishes tears were enough to bring him back as she struggles with the reality.

When investigators finally let her come to the scene, her husband's body was gone. In desperation for some link to him, she grabbed and kept some of the grass covered with his blood.

Police have two men, Pedro Nieto and Erasto Ramirez, in custody while a third suspect, Jose Ayala, is still at large. Because of illegal immigration and cultural differences, the case has been harder than most.

"Our witness has multiple names and IDs," said Chief Dep. Randall Tippins of the Evans County Sheriff's Department. "Our victim has multiple names and our suspects have multiple names, and none speak much English."

Lila says her husband got in a fight with the same three men a year ago but doesn't know what would prompt a murder. "Why did they do it? Why to my family? We was a happy family," she said.

As she relies on her family and his for support, she hopes anyone who knows anything will come forward so her husband can rest in peace.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Jose Ayala, please call the Evans County Sheriff's Department at 912.739.1611 or your local authorities.

Lila wants to send her husband's body back to his family in Mexico for burial. She and her mother are setting up a trust fund to handle the expenses.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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