Deltona man officially charged with killing step-children

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DELTONA, Fla. - A Volusia County man was formally charged Friday with killing his wife's two children in October.

Yessenia Suarez, 28, and her two children, 8-year-old Michael Otto and 9-year-old Thalia Otto, were last seen on Oct. 23.

Luis Toledo had previously only been charged in Suarez's death but had denied killing the children. Prosecutors, however, said they have enough evidence and have charged him in the children's deaths as well.

Toledo seemed disinterested in what the judge said on Friday, and he kept staring back at Suarez's and his own family and his own.

"I mean, it doesn't bring me peace, but some comfort," said Suarez's mother, Felicia Perez. "Like I said, he's not going to get away with it."

Suarez's family is also pushing for the death penalty and told Channel 9 they're beyond making a deal with him in exchange for the location of their family.

"Obviously we would like to find Yesse and the kid. I think the plea bargaining part of it with him, I think that's over and done with," said Suarez's stepfather, Ruben Perez.

But WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the state may still consider a plea bargain at this point.

Toledo was not given bond and has a pre-trial hearing next month.

A grand jury indicted Toledo on Thursday in connection with the children's deaths, even though their bodies have not been recovered.

"You can establish murder without the bodies," said State Attorney R.J. Larizza. "We hope and continue to be hopeful that we will find the bodies one day."

Investigators said Toledo admitted that while arguing with Suarez, he hit her in the throat with his open hand and she died from the blow.

Investigators said Toledo admitted to killing Suarez but said a friend killed the children.

Larizza explained his office had enough evidence to call in the grand jury to indict Toledo. He said there is more information about the case that he's not releasing at this time.

"There's statements that which I can't yet go into in great detail which indicate that all three are dead and that they were murdered," said Larizza.

Searches for more than a month around Deltona failed to turn up any sign of the bodies, but Larizza said the quest for more evidence continues.

"We hope to find more evidence. We continue searching for the bodies, and we'll continue to build the case as we go along," he said.

WFTV spoke to members of Suarez's family who believe Toledo deserves the death penalty now that these additional charges have been added.

Suarez's stepfather, Ruben Perez, said he still can't fathom how someone could kill two young children.

Prosecutors haven't decided whether or not to go with the death penalty yet, but Suarez's family have already made up their minds.

"I think the death penalty is appropriate in this matter," Perez said.

Suarez's mother, Felicia Perez, said she's glad justice is on its way.

"I miss them a lot, every day," she said.

Channel 9 learned investigators said Suarez was the victim of domestic violence involving Toledo.

Authorities said Toledo and Suarez had been talking about separating and that Toledo was angry about some text messages he found on his wife's phone, so he showed up at Suarez's Lake Mary workplace, where he confronted and slapped her, according to investigators.

Suarez's family said the three disappeared just hours after that confrontation.