BY MICHAEL LANSU AND STEFANO ESPOSITO
Silvestre Diaz-Hernandez was the only parent to two biological children and four stepdaughters after their mother died of lupus more than a year ago, family members said.
“We lost our mother [in] November 2012 to lupus and he was there every step of the way,” stepdaughter Melissa Edwards said via email. “Now that he was taken from us, all six of us kids are left with no parent figures in our lives. He will be truly missed.”
Diaz-Hernandez was killed early Christmas morning when his girlfriend’s nephew beat him to death — then cut off his head — after she told him to move out of her Northwest Side apartment, prosecutors said.
“My father was a good person, he never did anything to anyone,” his 17-year-old daughter, Salena Diaz, said via email. “He was a good father. He did what he could for me and my brother. He did the best to provide for us after me and [my] brother lost our mother.
“He was a fun and loving person. He loved joking around with us.”
Diaz-Hernandez’ family said he moved to Chicago from Mexico when he was 17 or 18 years old. He met his wife in Chicago, but after a divorce moved back and forth between Chicago and Atlanta.
He loved to watch moves, eat take-out food, play soccer and have family barbeques, family members said.
“He was big boned, but had a soft heart,” his son, 18-year-old Silvestre Abel Diaz said. He described his father with the saying, “Dad: A son’s first hero, a daughters first love.”
Early Christmas morning, Alexis Valdez killed attacked Diaz-Hernandez in an apartment in the 2500 block of North Kildare Avenue, prosecutors said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Kingsley Sawyers said Valdez moved in with his aunt and Hernandez-Diaz about six months ago. Valdez was allowed to move into the apartment on the condition that he go to school, work and contribute to household expenses, Sawyers said.
But eventually, Valdez stopped working and he was asked to move out, Sawyers said.
While the aunt was attending a party, Valdez started drinking and became angry at being forced to move out, Sawyers said. At some point, Diaz came home to the apartment and went with Valdez to a store to buy more beer.
“Before leaving to go to the store, the defendant took a hammer from the porch and hid it by the door so that he could kill the victim after they returned home,” Sawyers said.
When Valdez and Diaz-Hernandez returned, Valdez unleashed his fury, smashing Diaz in the head multiple times with the hammer, prosecutors alleged. Diaz fell to the floor, Sawyers said.
“On Christmas Eve, me and a few more family members got the last call we will ever receive from him,” his son said via email. “He called me at 4:05 a.m. and left me a voice mail. Hearing that voice mail makes me want to hug him really bad. He always told us he loved us. He would say it a million times.”
When Diaz was dead, Valdez dismembered the body, eventually cutting off Diaz’s head, Sawyers said.
“All he wanted was to be with me and my brother. He didn’t deserve this at all,” his daughter said.
Valdez eventually became exhausted, Sawyers said. He called 911 to report a dead body. When the 911 operator asked Valdez if he’d tried CPR, “the defendant laughed and told the 911 operator that the victim had been decapitated,” Sawyers said.
When police arrived, Valdez was covered in blood and admitted to killing Diaz, Sawyers said.
“The defendant also admitted that he was angry with his aunt and the victim, and that if his aunt had come home and seen the victim’s body, then he would have killed her as well,” Sawyers said.