Police, family still looking for driver responsible for ASU student's death - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Police, family still looking for driver responsible for ASU student's death

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Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 1:06 pm | Updated: 2:51 pm, Fri Oct 5, 2012.

It has been four weeks since 21-year-old Arizona State University student Kyleigh Sousa was robbed and dragged to her death by a driver who grabbed her purse in the 200 block of Apache Boulevard before he sped away with it.

But even after police have received more than 325 tips, the man responsible for her death and the passengers who were with him near the International House of Pancakes restaurant, have yet to be identified.

"We know there's somebody out there," said Sgt. Steve Carbajal, a Tempe police spokesman. "We've gotten tips about the description of the car and its license plate, but we need suspect information. We need someone to come forward and identify the person responsible."

Police and witnesses said Sousa was approached shortly after 2 a.m. on June 26 by a heavyset Hispanic man in a newer model silver Chrysler 300 or possibly a silver Dodge Charger. As Sousa turned her back, the man grabbed her purse and sped off, causing her to become entangled in its straps and dragged by the car. She was pronounced dead from blunt forced trauma hours later at a local hospital with family members at her side who flew to Arizona from New Jersey only to see a daughter they could no longer recognize because of her injuries.

During another emotional press conference on Tuesday, Kyleigh's mother, Karen Montenegro, and older brother, Bernie Sousa, who were in town to finish clearing out Kyleigh's apartment and pick up the remainder of her personal belongings, again pleaded for those responsible to come forward. They first asked the public for information on May 27, hours after Kyleigh's death. They also vowed to continue looking for those responsible for the crime. Authorities do not believe that Kyleigh knew the man in the car who approached her and one of her friends.

"It's been a very difficult time," Montenegro said. "We're emotionally exhausted. It's been four weeks of hell. We feel justice is needed. No parents should pack their child's belongings - this is not the way the story is supposed to end."

Sousa had aspirations to follow in the footsteps of her older brother and work in the medical field. Bernie Sousa, a medical representative for people who need facial reconstruction surgery. last saw his sister during a five-day medical-related trip to Phoenix in January and last spoke to Kyleigh the day before her death from Italy where he was on a trip.

Although Bernie Sousa, 32, said he has a lot of resources at his disposal, he was unable to help his sister and will use "all financial resources" and "will never stop looking" for those responsible for Kyleigh's death so the family can receive closure.

Bernie Sousa drove his sister to school when she was in kindergarten and also traveled with her when she visited colleges. When she moved to Tempe to attend Arizona State, Sousa said he wrote "best little sister" on the mirror in her apartment which was still on it as he and his mother finished picking up her belongings.

"I was her big brother, and my job was to protect her, and I didn't do that," he said. "To know her was to love her, but missing her is going to be unbearable."

She also was well-liked by her co-workers at the Tavern on Mill where she had worked as a server for the last four months.

Anyone with information is asked to call Tempe police at (480) 350-8311 or Silent Witness at (480) 948-6377.

The family also has started a memorial foundation in Kyleigh's name that will provide an annual scholarship to an Arizona State University student.

Kyleigh's family requests that donations for the Kyleigh Ann Sousa Memorial Foundation be sent to: Montenegro Law Firm, 531 Burnt Tavern Road, Brick, N.J. 08724. Donations also are being accepted and fundraisers are being held for the family at the Tavern on Mill, 404 S. Mill Ave., Tempe.

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