Social media helps find killer of Daisy De La O

The+19+year+old+Daisy+De+La+O+before+her+tragic+death+by+her+ex+boyfriend+Victor+Sosa

Screen shot via @thecut.com twitter

The 19 year old Daisy De La O before her tragic death by her ex boyfriend Victor Sosa

19 -year-old Daisy De La O was found stabbed to death on February 23, 2021 outside her Compton apartment complex and because of her friends and strangers from around the world Daisy’s killer was finally found.

It all started when a video on a viral social media app called TikTok was posted by Rebecca Fuentes. The 46-second clip begins with an introduction to Daisy and what her situation is. The video also included a series of photos of a young guy who is suspected to be the murderer. The young guy had shoulder-length shaggy black hair and tattoos across his arms and torso. He wears a beanie in one photo and a bowler hat in another.

The TikTok video culminates with a plea for help in finding him. “Tik tok do your thing and blow this up so we can find this *******,” the caption reads.

Fuentes, now 20, says she and Daisy De La O had been inseparable ever since they met as high-school freshmen in Huntington Park, just outside Los Angeles, where they grew up. Three months past since Daisy was found wrapped in a roll of carpet. Fuentes was tired of waiting for answers from detectives and wanted the suspect to be arrested.

Detectives “had no suspect information but plan to review footage from a number of cameras positioned throughout the apartment complex.”

The property manager who found De La O’s body, facedown, was quoted saying he didn’t even think the woman lived in the building. The overarching implication was that the murder may have been random. To De La O’s friends and relatives, there was nothing random about any of it.

The idea of a TikTok leading to a break in a murder case was not unheard of. A year before Fuentes posted her video, Sarah Turney began posting about her older sister, Alissa, who had disappeared from their home in Phoenix, Arizona, nearly 20 years earlier. In the videos, she repeatedly criticized the Phoenix Police Department and unabashedly accused her father of murdering her sister. In August 2020, not long after some of her videos began clocking more than a million views, her father, Michael Turney, was arrested for second-degree murder. The case is scheduled for trial in July.

Using social media to help find missing people or get justice for lost loved ones has been growing more and more common. Fuentes’s TikTok gained traction quickly. In a span of weeks, it racked up more than 10,000 likes and hundreds of comments, many of them from people who expressed sympathy for Daisy and said they couldn’t believe they hadn’t heard about her murder. Viewers started saying they would keep an eye out for the man in the photo. Some commenters said they thought maybe they had seen him, or at least somebody who looked like him. Fuentes said finding him and delivering her friend some sort of justice started to feel like a real possibility.

Daisy had met her on-again, off-again ex-boyfriend Victor Sosa on a dating app when she was about 15 and he was 21, according to her good friend Miriam Duran. Salas says Daisy lied to her about Sosa’s age. Not until Salas noticed the tattoos on his arm. Victor became physically abusive to Daisy and her friends started noticing bruises, bites, and scratches on her but she would never admit to what happened to her.

Daisy’s brother, Nathan De La O reports witnessing the abuse and even trying to stop it. He once watched Sosa hit Daisy over the head with a skateboard on the sidewalk outside their apartment. Sosa took off and so did De La O, who was bleeding from her forehead. Salas, Daisy’s mom says she tried to file a police report at the hospital but was told,

“‘Well, we can’t start a report unless she actually accuses him,’” Salas says. “I went to a police station in Compton, and they told me the same crap: ‘You cannot make a report.’ I’m like, ‘She’s underage! She’s a minor!’”

Salas says she attempted to report the assault to the L.A. County Sheriff department in Huntington park as well as the separate police department in Huntington Park, where her daughter still went to school. Lieutenant Patrick Kraut with the Huntington Park Police Department similarly tells me there’s a “gray area” when it comes to reporting domestic-violence cases involving minors: If a minor declines to provide a verbal statement to investigators, it’s difficult for them to pursue a charge, let alone determine whether a crime has taken place at all.

Eventually, Salas says she turned to the administrators at Huntington Park High School, who asked her son, Nathan, to give his account of the violence he witnessed. When they interviewed Daisy separately and she denied that the assault ever took place, they used Nathan’s testimony against hers, Salas says, prompting Daisy admission. “Daisy broke right there. She said, ‘My brother’s not a liar. Yes, that did happen” says Salas.

Salas says the school banned Sosa from campus as a result. Salas also banned Sosa from her apartment, but she says Daisy continued to see him until about a month prior to her death. That was when, while in the car together, Daisy told her mom that she had broken up with “what’s his face.” As Salas recalls, her daughter knew Salas didn’t even like to say his name. 

“I honestly think that she had broken up with him so many times before, but this time I think she really didn’t love him anymore. I really believe it. And I think that’s one of the main reasons it happened.” says Salas

“It” happened sometime between late in the night of February 22 and the early hours of February 23, 2021. Salas was watching television after dinner with Daisy and her mother, Daisy’s grandmother. At one point Salas estimates it was around 10 p.m. Daisy’s phone buzzed. Salas rarely looked at her daughter’s phone, she says, but she remembers glancing down at the screen to see a message from Sosa.

“I’ve got something for you,” Salas recalls it said.

A look of distress flashed across Salas’s face, and when Daisy caught it, she reassured her mother that this  whatever it was  wouldn’t take long.

“I kind of looked at her and then she said, ‘I’ll be right back,’” Salas says.

Eventually, Salas went to sleep, and when she noticed Daisy wasn’t in bed the next morning, she figured she had spent the night with Sosa. It was disappointing but, given the up-and-down nature of their relationship, not surprising. Later that morning, February 23, Salas got a call from Detective Ray Lugo with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

Salsa was driven to the apartment complex where she found police everywhere and yellow tape covered the complex. She broke down in tears after seeing the body body bag of her daughter.

video via @barecce on TikTok

In the weeks following Daisy’s death, her family and friends waited patiently for detectives to work the case. Even in their grief and anger, they understood there were procedures to follow and laws to abide by. They were sure Sosa had murdered Daisy but they considered that maybe the cops knew something they didn’t.

The only thing Daisy had kept secret from even her closest friends was Sosa’s physical abuse.

“She knows that we all would’ve pushed her to walk away,” says Fuentes, who adds that Daisy made it clear she didn’t like to talk about her relationship.

“I personally think she knew that if she tried to walk away, he would physically hurt her. She just never thought it would get to this point.”

Daisy’s murder left her friends and relatives shocked. But as the weeks went by, their shock turned to anger. They could not understand why her suspected killer, a recent ex-boyfriend with a history of alleged physical abuse, still had not been apprehended. It seemed implausible that a case so cut-and-dried could just go cold.

Four months had past and Daisy’s killer was still out there. More and more pages started popping up on Instagram and TikTok asking for justice for Daisy. Hundreds of comments started rolling in about sightings of Sosa.

Then an image came in of Sosa. A stranger direct-messaged her a video set to disappear after she opened it; she hadn’t thought quickly enough to take a screen recording of it. “They were like, ‘Hey, I’ve been seeing these posts, and I think the person you’re looking for works here with us”.

On July 2, a day after Salas sent Lugo, a detective the screenshot of the video, Sosa was arrested by Mexican police at Papas & Beer in Rosarito. Three days later, Fuentes created a new TikTok a split-screen “Duet” with her previous video to share the news of Sosa’s arrest. In it, she attempted to rally her followers once again, this time inviting them to hold signs with her and her friends outside the Compton Courthouse to raise awareness about Sosa’s case and advocate for harsh sentencing.

Sosa is currently being held on $2 million bail at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. At a preliminary hearing last September, his mother, Claudia Gutierrez, testified against him, telling a Compton courtroom that he had bowed his head when she asked him if he’d committed the crime. She said she urged him to “do the right thing” and “turn himself in.”

Salas says that not everyone who has lost a loved one to homicide gets to experience.

Thank God for social media, honestly.”

— Salas De La O

 “I’ve heard so many stories of parents who are still waiting for the person to get caught. There’s no one that’s a suspect. And thank God I have that.”