Crime & Courts

Sexual assault victim advocate killed in November honored nationally for her work

Perla Rodriguez’s body was found in his west Wichita home on Nov. 14. Her boyfriend, Travis Becker Jr., is charged with murder. (Nov. 14, 2017)
Perla Rodriguez’s body was found in his west Wichita home on Nov. 14. Her boyfriend, Travis Becker Jr., is charged with murder. (Nov. 14, 2017) The Wichita Eagle

A woman who spent years helping victims of sexual assault was posthumously recognized with the Visionary Voice Award by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center for sexual violence prevention.

Perla Rodriguez dedicated the last six years of her life to providing sexual assault education and outreach in Wichita.

She was found dead of blunt force trauma in her home last year. Her boyfriend, Travis Becker, 37, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Perla Rodriguez_web.jpg
Rodriguez Courtesy photo

Rodriguez, 42, was the director of outreach services at the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center and supervised nine outreach advocates. Before her work there, Rodriguez was the coordinator of program services, where she provided community education and outreach.

During the award ceremony, Rodriquez was remembered for her love of challenging “people on their perceptions of rape culture." She "was constantly engaging in conversation around victim blaming, violent masculinity, and bystander intervention.”

In a statement to The Eagle, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence said, "We are grateful for her impact, and we are so thankful she is being recognized."

Wichita police officers who went to Rodriguez’s home in the 2200 block of North Parkridge to check her welfare on Nov. 14 found her dead next to the tub in the master bathroom. A shovel with a wooden handle was in the master bedroom.

Officers went to her home multiple times that day after finding some of her belongings in a parking lot in Andover. When officers in Olathe found Becker in her car with fresh scratches on his face and a cut on his hand, Wichita officers forced their way inside Rodriguez's home. Becker is in jail on a $250,000 bond.

Wichita police Lt. Todd Ojile talks about a homicide at Tuesday's media briefing. A 42-year-old woman was found dead in her home at about 4 a.m. Tuesday near 21st and 119th Street West.

Nichole Manna, 316-269-6752, @NicholeManna
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