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Family Remembers Homicide Victim

Jose Guzman was devoted to his family and God.

Xiomara Guzman wakes up each day hoping that authorities will catch the three men implicated in the murder of her father two weeks ago.

"That’s the first thing I think about every morning, waiting for the phone to ring," she said. "The only thing that really scares me is whatever they did to my dad, they can do it to someone else."

Pastor Jose Guzman, 47, of Sterling, was found slain in Haymarket Feb. 7, and the Prince William County Police Department has obtained warrants for the arrest of Rigoberto Otero Aguilar, Eberto DeJesus Uolla and Roger Alexander Mendez Lopez, all of 11587 North Shore Drive, Reston. Aguilar is 25 years old; police did not have the age of the other assailants.

Detectives have obtained a video of the suspects attempting to use the victim's credit card at several locations. Police do not know if robbery was a motive.

All three are wanted for first-degree murder, which carries a penalty of 20 years in prison.

AUTHORITIES SAY JOSE GUZMAN met the trio for the first time at a Sterling bar Sunday night, Feb. 6. He died of blunt force trauma, but 1st Sgt. Kim D. Chinn would not disclose whether a weapon, an object or fists were used in the killing.

Police are concerned the suspects might attempt to flee the country to Honduras.

Xiomara Guzman said she would not want any other family to go through the pain that she, her three sisters and her mother have endured. "He was beaten to death," she said.

Her mother, Nina Guzman, said a detective provided details about the assault, but she will wait to share them with her children. They are in enough pain already, she said. "It’s not the moment to tell them. I prefer to keep it inside."

Jose Guzman’s body will be flown back to his native El Salvador, next week, to be buried next to his parents.

Xiomara Guzman described her father as someone who was dedicated to his family and to God. He founded the Huerto de Getsemani church, translated from Spanish into English as the Garden of Getsemani. He was a self-proclaimed Pentecostal minister for 17 years.

"God called him to become a pastor," she said. "It was something he felt. God had given him a lot of signs."

JOSE GUZMAN STARTED the church in Alexandria and moved the family to Sugarland Run in 1996. He held services in rented social halls, schools and chapels, she said. "He ended up … going to different people’s house. Then five to 10 people came to our house," she said.

He also washed cars at a dealership and recently was hired on as a laborer for Ivy H. Smith construction company.

Jose and Nina Guzman became U.S. citizens four years ago. Her father and mother grew up in El Salvador and migrated to the United States 25 years ago. Their 20-year wedding anniversary would have been in March.

Xiomara Guzman said her family has no idea why their father was at Pepe’s Restaurant the night he met up with the three men. "That day, from what we know, he was going to go to Maryland and get some packages from El Salvador," she said. "We think he ended up eating there. … He had never been there before."

She said he could have stopped by to tell others about the Lord. "Only God knows," she said. "I don’t know what happened. We have so many questions."

What she remembers best about her father is how he handled hardships, such as times when money was scarce. "He knew how to hide it and keep on smiling," she said. "That is one thing we’re going to miss a lot."

Nina Guzman said her husband was an easy and outgoing, positive person. He shared stories of his childhood years. "He would always wake up early in the morning in his country. Just before school he would sell cheese, soap or bread that his mother had made."

Jose Guzman’s father died when he was 7 years old, so he and his mother were very close.

"He wanted us to be very close to our parents," Xiomara Guzman said. He was strict with his daughters, particularly when it came to dating.

REBECCA GUZMAN RECALLED her father waking her up and getting her ready for school. He would pull her hair back into a pony tail.

Xiomara Guzman said their dad loved playing the guitar. "He didn’t know exactly how. … He also loved to sing. He had a good voice."

She remembered taking a family trip to El Salvador about 10 years ago. Her father had stayed behind and showed up two or three days later and surprised everyone. "That was the first and only trip we took as a family," she said.