Rollins College awards degree to family of slain student

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Rollins College awarded a degree Sunday to the family of a Deltona woman who investigators said was murdered.

Yessenia Suarez was working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the time of her death.

The school awarded her family with Suarez’s Bachelor of Arts degree, which the family said brings them a little closer to finding some peace.

“Even though my Yesse is not here to see it, we are. I’m a proud mom. Yesse will always be a role model for her siblings and family,” Suarez’s mother, Felicia Perez, said.

A tearful Felicia Perez stood in place of her daughter to accept the degree.

Suarez had a little more than a semester left of school when deputies said she and her two young children were murdered at the hands of her husband, Luis Toledo, in Deltona last October.

“Even though it hurts us and we cried, I know that she would have been happy, and she would have been so excited,” said Suarez’s stepfather, Ruben Perez.

The bodies of Suarez and her two young children, Michael and Thalia, still haven’t been found.

Toledo was charged in their murders and is awaiting trial.

Felicia and Ruben Perez are holding out hope their loved ones will be found some day, and they still ask the public for help locating them.

“Please contact the authorities and help us out in bringing our family back home,” Ruben Perez said.

Suarez’s professors wore a pin with her picture on it during the ceremony.

Toledo has a pretrial set for next month and his trial is scheduled for July.

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