The winding, dark discoloration on the pavement above, which spans one highway mile, is the blood of Luz Maria Franco Fierros, or what remains of her blood after crews hired to clean it from the highway did their best to do so. Fierros was 49, the single mother of three daughters and one son, all of whom lived in the humble home Fierros bought for the family in a small town 130 miles south of Mexico City. Accumulating debt motivated her to take out a second mortgage on her home last spring and to use the money to cross the border into the United States, traveling north to Denver, where a friend had told her there was work. She held three jobs, one at Taco Bell, one at Wendy’s, and one selling corn at a small roadway stand. She was looking forward to paying off her debts and returning home. She called her children (the youngest of whom was 17) every day. One daughter had recently miscarried, intensifying Fierros’ determination to return home soon.
She shared an inexpensive apartment with three men, one of whom was her “boyfriend.” Every day she had breakfast with a girlfriend in a nearby apartment. Those who knew her describe her as a happy woman, redhaired, green-eyed, hardworking, passionate.
Last week the “boyfriend”, Jose Luis Rubi-Nava, 36, knotted an orange tow rope around her neck, tied her to the back of the car she owned, which she shared with him, and dragged her over a mile down the paved concrete highway to her death, leaving the trail of blood depicted above, which also spanned over a mile. When her naked body was discovered, it was unrecognizable. There was so much blood, highway cleaning crews could not clean it all up and special contractors had to be called in. Investigators say she was alive when she was tied to the car. Someone left a photo of the woman and her boyfriend-become-murderer near the body. He was arrested and confessed. She was identified by her fingerprints.
I first read this story in the local Seattle newspapers last week, towards the back of the national news sections of each paper, the stories commanding maybe two column inches or so of space, maximum. She was just another woman killed by her boyfriend, you know? Exceptionally brutal as the story might be, still it wasn’t, in the eyes of reporters, shocking or outrageous or important enough to make front page headlines.
I noticed reading the reports of the death that there seemed to be substantial interest in letting readers know that Fierros had told her girlfriend and breakfast partner on more than one occasion that she felt like killing this man, who would ultimately murder her, or that when they fought, as they sometimes did, she was proud to say she landed more blows than he did. You would have to pay closer attention to notice what women are more likely to notice: that the “boyfriend” was a jealous and possessive man. That she had crossed the border illegally and so would have feared calling police. That her goal was to earn money and return home to her family. Stories reported she worked two jobs, one mentioning only in passing that she also sold corn, and enjoyed that third job. If you are a woman, you notice that despite this backbreaking work schedule and tenuous living situation, she made time for her girlfriends and made time to call home every day. If you are a woman you notice that although she was a single mom, she bought her family a house, meaning all of her life she probably worked several jobs while raising her children. So, yes, this small woman, 5 feet tall, 130 pounds, probably landed more blows indeed. She was fighting for her life, as she had always fought for her life and her children’s lives. It was a number of days before her killer was apprehended; during those days, he used her car.
Last week, she lost her fight. Friends in Colorado have placed donation jars in businesses and stores; funds collected will be used to pay the mortgage payments, for as long as possible, on the house her children still live in. She will be buried in Mexico, eventually.
This was a hate crime. It was an unconscionably and intentionally brutal and premeditated murder of a woman by a man. It deserved and still deserves front page coverage. The problem is there are so many women murdered by men, boyfriends, especially, that this kind of story doesn’t really command much attention. There’s a lot of interest vested, too, in the general public not paying attention to how common this kind of story is. Hence, we hear about Fierros’ propensity for fighting. Hence, we hear her murderer described as her boyfriend. Hence we don’t read, on the front page, about a man who in cold blood tied a woman to a car while she was still alive and dragged her behind that car, spilling her blood for a country mile on that cold pavement.
As I wrote in the post of a few days ago, The Truth About Men, hating women does not keep men from wanting us. Wanting us does not keep men from killing us. The war men wage on women they wage on and on.