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Man, 46, is arrested almost 20 years after his ex-girlfriend’s body was found in a Miami canal

Berkley Calvin Curtis Jr. was arrested on Monday and charged with second degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Rebeca Pena

The ex-boyfriend of a woman whose body was found floating inside a suitcase in a Miami canal in 2001 has finally been arrested nearly two-decades after police first suspected him for her death. 

Berkley Calvin Curtis Jr., 46, was arrested on Monday and charged with second degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Rebeca Pena. 

Pena’s body was discovered by boaters in the Biscayne River Canal on April 16, 2001. There was 25lb weight lifting plates inside the suitcase that were intended to keep it weighted down, CBS Miami reports.

Police had found a magazine addressed to the Pena family with a Silver Spring, Maryland, address, which was where Curtis lived at the time. Curtis is also the father of Pena’s child, authorities shared. 

The weights were later found to match ones Curtis had at his home in Miramar. 

But the case went cold, even after 2014 when a woman who also has a child by Curtis told police that he had been missing for several hours on the night Pena was killed. 

Pena's body was discovered by boaters in the Biscayne River Canal on April 16, 2001. There was 25lb weight lifting plates inside the suitcase that were intended to keep it weighted down

Pena’s body was discovered by boaters in the Biscayne River Canal on April 16, 2001. There was 25lb weight lifting plates inside the suitcase that were intended to keep it weighted down

Police had found a magazine addressed to the Pena family with a Silver Spring, Maryland, address, which was where Curtis lived at the time. Curtis is also the father of Pena's child

Police had found a magazine addressed to the Pena family with a Silver Spring, Maryland, address, which was where Curtis lived at the time. Curtis is also the father of Pena’s child

Police have not said what exactly led to the recent arrest of Curtis, according to the Miami Herald

'An unsolved homicide gnaws at the heart every parent and every family member left behind,' State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said

‘An unsolved homicide gnaws at the heart every parent and every family member left behind,’ State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said

‘An unsolved homicide gnaws at the heart every parent and every family member left behind,’ State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle explained to CBS Miami. 

‘Each survivor waits for the day that the killer of their loved one is brought to justice. For the Pena family, we believe that day has finally arrived. I want to commend the Miami-Dade Police Department for their hard work and commitment toward bringing the accused killer of Rebeca Pena to justice.’ 

Rundle did credit new forensics and modern-day technology for helping move the case along. 

‘We could go back and look at GPS records, for instance. And today, we could see where people are moving around. So that was a huge asset for us.’ 

Police were also thrilled to finally close the case after almost twenty years. 

Pena had been working as a movie extra during the filming of 'Ali' when she was last seen leaving the set in her white Honda Civic at around 2.15am on April 10 in 2001. Her car was later found near her apartment in Miramar

Pena had been working as a movie extra during the filming of ‘Ali’ when she was last seen leaving the set in her white Honda Civic at around 2.15am on April 10 in 2001. Her car was later found near her apartment in Miramar

‘I am exceptionally proud of our current, former and retired homicide investigators who worked relentlessly on solving this nearly 20-year-old case,’ Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez said. 

‘Bringing closure to the family of Rebeca Pena nearly 20 years later is just one example that we never forget the victims that no longer have a voice. The Miami-Dade Police Department is humbled and honored to be a part of this process.’

Pena had been working as a movie extra during the filming of ‘Ali’ when she was last seen leaving the set in her white Honda Civic at around 2.15am on April 10 in 2001. Her car was later found near her apartment in Miramar.

Detectives said that Curtis stalked his ex-girlfriend, who had just gotten a restraining order against him. 

Pena's father, Rafael Pena, described his daughter as being afraid that her ex intended to harm her

Pena’s father, Rafael Pena, described his daughter as being afraid that her ex intended to harm her

Pena’s father, Rafael Pena, described his daughter as being afraid that her ex intended to harm her. 

The mother’s sister also said that Curtis had been physically abusive to Pena, describing a 1998 incident where he choked her and needed police intervention to stop.  

‘With this news of the arrest of this person, the pain will be less because justice has been served,’ Pena’s father said about the arrest. ‘But the emptiness is still there and won’t go away.’

‘Every day we don’t see her here, we cry a little. But we’re satisfied with the life we gave her. I tell everyone, enjoy life with your children, and forgive them, because you don’t know what may happen one day.’  


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