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Aug 12, 2009 12:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

A tragic and shocking end to an immigrant family's American dream

Aug 12, 2009 12:31 PM

Tarsicio Soto stood in the back of Scoville Hall in Amagansett after the candlelight vigil held in memory of his sister-in-law, Blanca Soto, receiving and giving hugs, kisses and words of condolence.

“I can’t believe what is happening,” he said in a voice both stunned and somber. His younger brother, David Soto, was locked away in Suffolk County Jail for stabbing his wife to death less than a week before in their mobile home in the East Hampton Mobile Home Village on Oakview Highway.

“Blanca was our sister. She was so sweet. They were a lovely couple. We tried to make them work together. We made a lot of people talk to them,” Mr. Soto said.

“Even between them, him and her, they didn’t want to break even though they were always fighting. They loved each other, but it was a sick love.”

Mr. Soto said he was in shock. “His personality was always happy and always jokey,” he said of his brother, with whom he had traveled a long way since their childhood in Mexico.

The Soto brothers, including their middle brother Martin, migrated from the colonial hill town of Tuxpan, Mexico, to East Hampton more than 20 years ago. They were some of the first men to migrate to East Hampton from central Mexico’s Michoacán state, which is famous as the final destination in the epic migration of monarch butterflies.

The Soto brothers were friends of a man named Mario Coria, who was the first man from Tuxpan to come to the East End. Mr. Coria quickly found great success as a landscaper—he was profiled in Time magazine in 2006 in an article on immigration in the Hamptons.

The Sotos were among the dozens, and later hundreds, who followed Mr. Coria here from their home when they heard about the work to be had and the money to be made.

All three brothers worked as landscapers and slowly built up their own list of wealthy clients with homes in places like the Georgica Association, according to a friend of the Sotos from Tuxpan who lives in East Hampton but asked that her name be withheld. They obtained legal papers to live here. They went back to Tuxpan every year and built houses there.

After some years, the Soto brothers were able to also bring their mother and sisters to East Hampton. Their father remained in Tuxpan. According to a friend from Tuxpan and a friend from East Hampton, their father was an alcoholic and abusive to his wife and sons. Coming here, they were able to escape his abuse, the two friends said.

Michael O’Neill of Sag Harbor said he has known Martin Soto for 22 years after being introduced to him by a man who worked in the kitchen where Mr. O’Neill was a chef. Through Martin Soto, Mr. O’Neill met his brother David Soto. “They are a wonderful family,” Mr. O’Neill said. He recalled when the Soto brothers brought their sister Claudia here to live. She was young and pregnant. “We had a fund-raiser for her at the pond in Noyac and about 50 people came and one could see the care and concern that the family had for each other,” Mr. O’Neill said.

All three men had also started their own families. David Soto had his daughter Melina, who is now 18, with another woman from Colombia who left the child-rearing to him. Melina spent the first years of her life in Mexico with the Soto family there.

In the meantime, David Soto had started dating Blanca on a trip home to Tuxpan, according to his brother Tarsicio Soto. Thirteen years ago, David Soto brought Blanca to East Hampton and they were married, Tarsicio Soto and their sister, Consuelo, said. Ms. Soto worked hard as a house cleaner, Tarsicio Soto said. And she had two sons with David, who are now 11 and 9.

The brothers bought houses and expensive cars; Martin Soto drives a Hummer and his wife drives a BMW, David drove a Cadillac Escalade. They sent their mother and aunts on a vacation to Rome. David owned the mobile home on Oakview Highway, where he lived with his wife and children.

But there was tension between Mr. Soto’s daughter Melina and his wife after Mr. Soto brought his daughter from Mexico to live with his new wife and sons, a friend said. The tension led to physical fights, one of which Ms. Soto reported to police last June after she said her husband and stepdaughter had attacked her through her bedroom window. She suffered cuts and bruises to her face and neck after that attack. Ms. Soto pressed harassment charges against them and applied for an order of protection against both of them. Mr. Soto and Melina moved into Mr. Soto’s mother’s mobile home nearby.

But a week before she was killed, Ms. Soto asked the court to drop the order of protection against her husband and stepdaughter. She told the judge that she and her husband were going to see a counselor and try to improve their relationship.

What led Mr. Soto into such a rage that he could stab his wife in the back the following week is the question that has left his family and friends in a state of shock, grief and confusion.

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''he always like to chat and make jokes"? eating donuts? why the attempt at humanizing a murderous, illegal, abusive animal? this guy was scum of the earth and his brother is surprised? glad to know that this guy loved to dance to the folkloric bands in the tuxpan plaza...but how 'bout we highlight someone from long island, that has never been arrested for murder because he didn't plunge a dagger through the chest of an innocent victium, that never beat his wife, that never illegally crossed ...more
By thetruthhurts (21), southampton on Aug 13, 09 6:50 AM
1 member liked this comment
Very sad, but to blame the victim for not getting enough help? Its not always available here either. I would like to know that if they built houses in Mexico and sent family to Rome why a public defender is being used? Very sad, indeed. My heart goes out to her boys.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Aug 13, 09 8:06 AM
1 member liked this comment
Mr. Truth...did you pay attention to the article you were reading...they are all legal...tax payers...business owners... How about not using this tragic event as a platform to show case your obvious ignorance. This is not about illegal immigration it’s about a sad case of the cycle of physical abuse and substance abuse continuing. Mr. Soto was raised in an abusive household, probably watched his father abuse his mother...his father has a drinking problem Mr. Soto has a drinking problem. Death as ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Aug 13, 09 9:38 AM
2 members liked this comment
I agree with truth hurts and squeaky. In my opninon this is VERY POOR REPORTING, Who cares where they came from However it must be nice to
go to rome, drive fancy cars, have a second home in mexico. I for one have
never had any of those opportunities and was born in this country. A good reporter would have talked more about the issuses of domestic violence, because as everyone knows it has no boundries
By J. Totta (106), Sag Harbor on Aug 13, 09 10:12 AM
2 members liked this comment
SIckening!!! A woman is murdered and we are talking about him bringing "our" money to Mexico!!! Driving expensive cars. Who cares. I work 4 jobs and still cant afford to pay my bills. I was born and raised here. Didnt bring my family over here either and im sure they are illegal. I cant believe we are worried about his business and cars. The woman was murdered and he should be punished somewhere else maybe MEXICO. Maybe his family can build a jail there for him too!!!
By Cherub (2), Sag Harbor on Aug 14, 09 2:46 PM
I would like to come from a different angle...I knew David as a neighbor. In the 9 yrs I knew him, if I was out working in my little yard or whatever I might look like I could use an extra hand with, he offered. He would drive by & stop when he saw me & ask if I needed help. I knew him as a hard working man who was trying to make a life here. I am as shocked as anyone. He was always smiling, always pleasant. Who could know that something like this would happen? His wife kept to herself but would ...more
By trublnocknatmydr (35), East Hampton on Aug 14, 09 6:53 PM
Turthhurts, if you had bothered to read the article you would see they are LEGAL AMERICANS, not "illegals". People like you are always looking for an excuse to blame "illegals" and cant be bothered with truth or facts.

Cherub, you are also a complete ignoramus who did not bother to read the article. You hate your life so you strike out at the easiest target you can find - "illegals" - even when their actually here legally? Spend less time attacking others and more time improving your ...more
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Aug 14, 09 7:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is truely a sad story.

fcmcmann, I believe the old time saying... "what one see in others, the name calling or circumstances is really what we hate most about ourselves."
By mystcstar (51), Quogue on Dec 3, 09 12:58 PM
They didn't have a good relationship-they had a destructive relationship-they BOTH have the responsbility to control things or separate.
If he had houses in Mexico,vacations in Rome and drove a Caddilc Escalade-WHY ARE WE PAYING FOR A PUBLIC DEFENDER?????
By Avatar (15), Westhampton Beach on Aug 16, 09 10:48 AM
It's so sad! And here everyone is arguing about if he was a good guy or not.I'd say not! He murdered his wife in front of his own children.People aren't always who you believe they maybe.They show you what they want you to see.Behind closed doors you will see the true person.As for him getting a public defender. In newhampshire people have to pay for there public defender.How about it new york? I think the tax payers are sick of paying for people who just don't want to follow the rules.
By transplanted newyorker (15), lunenburg on Aug 18, 09 3:20 PM