Central District

'Normally when somebody is murdered it's news, and in this case it wasn't'

'Normally when somebody is murdered it's news, and in this case it wasn't'

SEATTLE - There is a memorial dedicated to a man murdered in Seattle that you will likely never see. The man is Alvaro Ruiz, and the mementos to his life are in a back building at Seattle's Casa Latina.

Even though it contains a picture of Ruiz and symbols of his life - like a hard hat because found work as a day laborer, and ear phones since he loved to listen to music - it is but a snapshot of who he was.

Casa Latina Executive Director Hillary Stern said, "In a lot of ways, he just lived life day by day."

An immigrant from Mexico, Ruiz's daily routine included Casa Latina where he sought jobs as a day laborer and took classes to learn English.
   
"He was so distinctive, because he was so happy all the time. Everybody loved him," Stern said.

Ruiz was beaten to death, and left under a blanket on cold concrete in the shadow of Seattle's sports stadiums at 4th Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Drive South.

His Casa Latina Family recalled seeing his warm smile just hours earlier that Saturday, on September 28, 2013.

Stern says she doesn't understand why it took police so long to notify them. Ruiz was found with his wallet, cell phone, and Casa Latina identification on him, yet police didn't notify Casa Latina until four days after his body was discovered.

"I think the main thing that we were disappointed in, is that nobody knew about it," Stern said. "Normally when somebody is murdered it's news, and in this case it wasn't."

Ruiz was homeless, and Stern said he was an addict, though he did not seek work unless he was sober. She said he kept working on his goal of learning English so he could return to Mexico to work in tourism.

"The way he was learning English was by copying down the lyrics of the song," Stern said.

Ruiz's favorite song was John Lennon's "Imagine," because of its message of world peace without bias or greed.

Casa Latina raised enough money to send his body home to his four children in Mexico, and now they're collecting donations to keep teaching others English, in his honor.

Seattle police are still investigating his death, and looking for tips from the public.