Watch our 2007 interview with Larissa Rodriguez about her mother's violent murder

Watch our 2007 interview with Larissa Rodriguez about her mother's violent murder
Larissa Rodriguez (Source: Cleveland police)
Larissa Rodriguez (Source: Cleveland police)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A decade before Larissa Rodriguez was suspected of killing and burying her own child in the backyard, the mother of nine spoke with Cleveland 19 News about the violent death of her own mom.

Cleveland 19's Harry Boomer interviewed Rodriguez and her sister Ana in July 2007, after their adoptive mother, Emma Rojas, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend.

"She was loving, caring. If you needed her to be there, needed help, she would help you," said Rodriguez in 2007.

Rodriguez and her sister said their mom, who was age 43 at the time, wasn't perfect. She had drug problems.

But they said the mother of 14 didn't deserve to die.

"She had her problems, but that doesn't give him a right to kill her," said Ana Rodriguez.

Ana now says their mom's murder may have contributed to Larissa's own journey down a path of violence.

According to Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Records, Larissa herself was an apparent victim of violence. In 1998, records show the teen mom suffered bruises and contusions in a domestic violence incident with the father of her child.

Some nine years later, Rojas was stabbed more than a dozen times in the chest, back and arms at a beauty shop on Clark Avenue in Cleveland. Rojas staggered to a nearby Walgreens, crying out for help.

She died four hours later at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Rojas' boyfriend, Juan Mateo, was charged with murder. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison. Mateo is currently locked up in the Mansfield Correctional Institution and is eligible for parole in June 2037.

In 1994, Mateo also did time for the death of yet another woman in Cuyahoga County and was also accused of a murder in Puerto Rico.

Ana and Larissa said their mom knew of his violent past, but stayed with him because she truly loved him.

"We knew what he did to his ex wives, but that didn't stop her from being with this guy," Ana said in the 2007 interview.

On Tuesday, investigators found the remains of a young child in behind Larissa's West 80th Street home. Police began investigating after receiving a tip call stating that Rodriguez had buried her 5-year-old son Jordan in the backyard after finding him unresponsive two months ago.

It's unclear if the remains are Jordan.

An autopsy confirming the identity and cause of death by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner is currently underway.

Rodriguez has been in police custody since Monday but has not been charged with a crime.

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