(MIRAMAR, Fla.) — A preliminary custody hearing for the three children of missing Florida mother Vilet Torrez will be held on Thursday, marking the next step in determining whether the children will be returned to the custody of their father, who has been called a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance.
Vilet Torrez, 38, was reported missing on April 2 after her children had spent the weekend with her estranged husband. The missing mom had recently separated from Cid Torrez, her husband of 15 years, with whom she’d had years of marital problems, her family said. The woman’s car and belongings were found in her driveway.
The couple’s three children, Vilet, 12, Cid Jr., 7, and Marcus, 4, were taken from Cid Torrez’s custody and placed in the care of their maternal grandparents after an anonymous April 5 call alleged Cid Torrez had a gun and wanted to “end it all.”
Torrez’s lawyer, Richard Della Fera, told ABC News his client denies the allegation and any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.
“He had nothing to do with her disappearance, and we welcome the investigation because we’re confident it’s going to exonerate him,” Della Fera said, adding that he believed Vilet Torrez’s family never liked Cid and always believed she married “below herself.”
A judge is expected to rule on the custody of the Torrez children on May 10.
Tania Rues, public information officer for the Miramar Police Department, said authorities are thoroughly investigating all possible angles.
“[Vilet Torrez] did not leave on her own free will, and we believe foul play is suspected,” Rues said. She declined to name other possible angles or people who had been questioned but said Cid Torrez had fully cooperated.
Vilet Torrez had dinner plans with a male friend on March 30, Cid Torrez told ABC News shortly after her disappearance. Torrez said his wife had a new boyfriend whom he had met and had been “around” since she was reported missing.
The missing mother’s siblings said they hadn’t heard of a new boyfriend in Torrez’s life and said Cid Torrez had a history of being “jealous” to the point they worried about their sister’s safety.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire