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Jovita liked to help others

May 10, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

It's a story of a 16-year-old girl with dreams whose life was taken away.

It's the story of family and friends trying to come to grips with the fact the girl they knew as "loving," "church-going," and "modest," was murdered.

Jovita Becerra was stabbed to death Monday when she was alone inside the Brawley apartment she shared with her mother.

Luis Fernandez, an older brother of Jovita, described his sister as "church-going."

He added, "She was very loving; she loved church, she loved kids. She was beautiful inside and out."

Born in Riverside in 1985, Jovita moved with her family to the Imperial Valley in 1988 and settled in El Centro.

She moved to Brawley in June 2001 with her family but she continued to attend Desert Oasis High School in El Centro.

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Jovita volunteered three times a week in the afternoons at Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo in Brawley. She worked in the pediatrics department.

Dr. Alberto Sabater said it was a shock to the staff at the clinic to hear that Jovita had been murdered. She had been a volunteer at Clinicas for about six months.

"She was very quiet and well- behaved," Sabater said.

Yolanda Short, administrative coordinator at the Brawley clinic, was Jovita's supervisor. She said Jovita not only gave time three times a week, but she volunteered on her holidays.

"She was a very quiet, sweet young lady," Short said. "She was dependable."

Short added, "She always had a smile on her face."

Short said Jovita assisted medical assistants and nursing staff, adding she was "always on time and was very polite."

Jovita volunteered for fund-raisers, including helping in the effort to raise money for the Imperial Valley Food Bank.

Short said of Jovita, "She will be missed by all the employees."

Jovita also volunteered at her church, the Brawley Foursquare Gospel Church.

The Rev. Eloy Treviño, the pastor of the church who will preside over services for Jovita on Saturday, said she had been a member of the church for a year and a half and had taken part in youth activities and worked in the nursery, teaching and caring for the younger children.

"She was a beautiful care-giver," said Treviño, who added along with being her pastor, his daughter was best friends with Jovita.

"Anything the church needed, she volunteered," he said, adding she would attend church every Wednesday and Sunday.

Treviño said of Jovita, "She was innocent. She was on the right path."

He said Jovita was an example for other youth to follow.

At Desert Oasis, one of Jovita's teachers, who did not wish to have his full name published, said Jovita "was a very diligent worker who did very good classwork."

He said Jovita was in the independent study program voluntarily. He added she liked school and did "excellent work" on her homework.

Treviño said school was important to Jovita and she wanted to go onto college.

Christine Gastelum, a friend Jovita met through the church, said Jovita also wanted to join the Army and become a police officer.

Gastelum added Jovita was the kind of person, "who would always make you smile no matter what."

Rebeka Treviño, the Rev. Treviño's daughter and a close friend of Jovita, said, "She was just a happy person."

Family members, who did not wish to comment in detail about Jovita — asking for time to grieve for her loss — said she loved her family and was loved by her family.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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