The woman found dead of blunt force trauma in her home Tuesday morning was the director of outreach services for the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.
Perla Rodriguez, 42, of Wichita, also worked closely with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Her boyfriend, Travis Becker, 37, is in jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. He’s being held on $250,000 bond.
“This feels like a death in the family,” the coalition said in a statement. “We work with domestic violence every day, yet this comes as a shock to us too. We say this with great sadness: We know that domestic violence can happen to anyone. No one is immune – not even our own victim advocates.”
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Officers were first sent to Rodriguez’s house in the 2200 block of North Parkridge at around 10:30 p.m. Monday after officers in Andover had found some of her property, Lt. Todd Ojile said. Her house is near 21st and 119th Street West.
Officers were unable to make contact with anyone and left.
Then, shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, the Olathe Police Department contacted Wichita police to report that they had a call about a suspicious man, who turned out to be Becker. When he was found, they also found Rodriguez’s car, along with some of her other property.
Wichita officers went back to the Rodriguez’s house and again were unable to make contact with anyone. After investigating further, they forced their way inside and found her, Ojile said.
Becker was originally held at the Olathe jail but was transferred to the Sedgwick County Jail Tuesday evening.
Asked Wednesday for more information about what of Rodriguez’s property was found and why it was in Andover, Officer Charley Davidson said that is still under investigation.
The Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center released this statement about Rodriguez: “WASAC staff and board are saddened by the loss of our coworker and friend, Perla Rodriguez. Perla was a critical member of our team providing guidance for the education and outreach we do in our community. We miss her terribly. Our love and support goes out to those who knew her and especially to her family. We are grateful to our community who have reached out to our staff during this difficult time with thoughts of care and compassion. Your support means so much to us and further demonstrates how much Perla meant to WASAC and our community.”
ICT SOS also released a statement saying, “Perla was a kind and generous person who was always available to our organization for collaboration, insight and friendship. She was very helpful in implementing our prevention programs in the schools and always happy to let us run ideas by her or just catch up over lunch at Molinos. In this work, your colleagues become your friends and then they become your family. The WASAC family means so much to the ICT SOS family and we mourn with them.”
Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle