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‘My heart hurts.’: Pastor remembers Moorhead family found dead in home

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:18 PM CST
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MOORHEAD, M.N. (Valley News Live) - A close-knit congregation is in mourning tonight as they continue to grapple with the loss of a family of seven who was found dead in their home Saturday night.

The tragic discovery was made just before 8 p.m., in the 4400 block of 13th St. S. in Moorhead. Police say there is no evidence of any violence, but a cause of death is still undetermined. Police have identified the victims as 37-year-old Belin Hernandez, his wife 34-year-old Marleny Pinto, and the couple’s three children 16-year-old Breylin, 7-year-old Mike and 5-year-old Marbely. Also inside the home was the couple’s niece 19-year-old Mariela Pinto, and Belin’s brother, 32-year-old Eldor Hernandez.

Pastor of Mount Carmel Church in Moorhead, Eric Bravo Mejia says Saturday night was supposed to be a night of prayer for him and the 40+ other members of his congregation. However, a frantic call to Mejia’s phone shortly after 7 p.m. prompted Mejia and other members of the church to rush to a few blocks down the road.

“I went to the floor above and I entered into the room and all the family was together. They were there dead. And I went to another room and there was the niece dead. And the uncle. Also dead. All dead. It was an impact that at this moment I can’t even understand. It’s something you can’t even explain the impact it has in seeing them all there,” Mejia said. Our interview with Mejia was translated this afternoon by former Valley News Live Reporter Joshua Peguero.

Mejia says he’s known the Hernandez-Pinto family for eight years through church. Mejia says they first met near Minneapolis, but Mejia says in 2015 God called him to the Fargo-Moorhead area, and shortly after the Hernandez-Pinto family followed.

Mejia says the family came from Honduras just over a decade ago.

“I think that people should remember a family really special. Well loved. Many people oppressed them. I think they will leave a remembrance that’s very, very special,” Mejia said.

While Mejia says he still struggles to shake the nightmare he witnessed Saturday night, he says he’s pushing through for the seven special souls now watching over him. He asks the community to continue to send up prayers of healing to the many in mourning, and to remember the loving and kind family as more than just victims.

“They always tried to be very united together. My heart hurts because I love them so much. It’s so painful for me. They were a family. A family well loved,” Mejia said.

Moorhead Police say preliminary autopsies have ruled out any obvious trauma as the cause of death. More information will be released in the coming days.

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