Teen father's 1988 murder now unsolved

October 7, 2011 6:25:38 AM PDT
Relatives of a 16-year-old boy killed in 1988 wonder if justice will ever be served now that the man they thought murdered him has been freed from prison. That has left the family of Felix Valentin searching for answers.

Jacques Rivera, 46, was released from prison Tuesday after the case against him fell apart. He was accused in Valentin's murder.

Felix Valentin Jr., 23, was just eight months old when his father was killed. He and his girlfriend are now the parents of their own three children, and Valentin has grown up with the knowledge that his father's killer was behind bars.

That all changed two days ago when prosecutors dropped charges against Rivera, who spent 21 years in prison for the murder.

"I'm angry, really angry. I don't know who did it," said Valentin Jr.

"It just opened up old wounds that I thought were healed. I'm really very angry about it," said Daisy Valentin, victim's sister.

The 16-year-old Valentin was shot while he sat in a car in an alley at Kimball and Cortland in Humbolt Park. Prosecutors said it was gang related, but Valentin's family says he was not in a gang.

A judge set Rivera free after the only eyewitness to Valentin's murder who was 12 years old at the time recanted, saying it was another man, not Rivera, who fired the fatal shots. His family says Valentin was shot 12 times. Rivera says he's praying for the family.

"The victim's family deserves the truth. The city of Chicago needs to know the truth. I didn't kill that young man, and that's the bottom line," said Rivera.

"I look at him and say, wow, where did this come from, because he grew up actually without his dad," said Jasmine Baez, Valetin Jr.'s girlfriend.

The Valentin family says prosecutors have not told them if they will pursue other leads in the case. But relatives say they want answers now more than ever.