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Family of man found in barrel works to find closure, thanks Chula Vista PD for their efforts

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 13:30:46-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - The family of the man found in a barrel in San Diego Bay, near Chula Vista, is working toward closure two years after he disappeared.

Omar Medina’s body was found Oct. 12, 2017, after a diver found a white, 55-gallon drum floating in the bay. According to police, the drum was anchored with cinder blocks.

RELATED: Chula Vista police identify man found dead inside barrel floating in San Diego Bay

Medina's sister, Alicia Villegas, said she's been the rock for the family, supporting her mom and children. She's the oldest of three and stepped in as an extra parent growing up, as they didn't have a father.

"This is the thing I cared about most growing up, he [Omar] was like a child to me," Villegas said.

Thinking about her 28-year-old brother, she dreams of what could have been, "going to his wedding. I miss not meeting my nieces and nephews, I miss not having cousins for my kids." She spoke publicly for the first time this year at Chula Vista Police's Evening with Heroes fundraiser.

"Once they came in I felt a weight lifted off my shoulder[s] and that's what they've meant to me, they have definitely been that strength I'm not," she said police showed her family kindness and empathy.

"[Detectives] who put their photo on their desk and said they're out there. They're going to find who's responsible for killing Omar," Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said.

"I slept under this very table here in the office because that's how important it is and how much dedication we need to put in these cases," Sergeant Lavar Brown said in a video played during the fundraiser.

Chief Kennedy explained the annual event funds programs the department would otherwise have to do without, "for instance our Canine program, our Senior Volunteer program, our Explorer program," she said their innovative Drone program is also funded through donation dollars.

The work they did on Medina's case, will felt by the family long after it's closed.

"I know I'm just a kid," Omar's nephew Arturo Jr. said at the podium, "but what happened to my uncle hurts me just as much as it did the rest of my family and I'm glad I got to share it with you." He said he was thankful for CVPD.

Two men were arrested in connection with Omar's death, they will stand trial in October.