More than 100 people gathered Tuesday to remember local Spanish radio host Gabriela Sifuentes Castilla during a Taylorsville vigil held in front of the home where she was killed.
Sifuentes Castilla was shot early Sunday at the home near 2300 West and 5200 South, police said. She was known to many by her on-air name, Gaby Ramos. The 38-year-old had worked as a host on local Spanish radio station La Más Picosita on 1550 AM since March 2020.
On her show “La Neta del Planeta” (The Truth of the Planet), she often discussed topics including violence, substance abuse, injustice, nutrition, love and self-worth.
“There’s definitely a missing piece in my heart,” Monica Calvo, who owns the station, said Tuesday. “She took part of my heart with her.”
Calvo organized the event to celebrate Sifuentes Castilla’s life and advocate for justice in her death. Community members exchanged embraces and tears with Sifuentes Castilla’s family as they listened to her favorite songs in front of the home where she lived with her 9-year-old daughter, Julieta Hernandez Sifuentes, as well as her sister, Rocio Sifuentes.
Calvo’s husband, Alex Calvo, met Sifuentes Castilla in 2020 while she was working as a waitress after moving to Utah from Mexico City four years ago. There was something special about her voice and personality that caught Alex Calvo’s attention. He offered her a job as a DJ during La Más Picosita’s morning show. Sifuentes Castilla told him that she didn’t know anything about radio, but that she’d like to give it a try.
It only took about a week for Sifuentes Castilla to learn the ropes on-air, Monica Calvo said. As a trained psychologist, Sifuentes Castilla loved responding to people’s questions on her show. She never had to adopt an artificial radio persona, Monica Calvo said — she spoke as if she was having a casual conversation with her audience and often used her show as a platform to advocate for women’s rights.
On days where Alex Calvo was feeling down, Sifuentes Castilla was there with a coffee in hand and her usual upbeat attitude to offer him a pep talk.
“She was always giving something extra to everybody,” Alex said. “That’s the way Gaby was.”
The day before Sifuentes Castilla was killed, she worked at the station with Alex Calvo. They talked about going out that evening after their shift, but Calvo said Sifuentes Castilla preferred to stay home with her daughter. She told Alex that she would meet him on Sunday to have a meal with one of the radio station’s sponsors.
“Everything changed after that,” Alex said. “[It] happened really fast. It all changed in one second. It’s hard to process that.”
Rocio Sifuentes and her family were home when Sifuentes Castilla was shot. She expressed gratitude to those who came to the vigil and led a round of applause for her sister that she “hoped would reach the heavens.”
“It’s super hard,” the sister said. “My niece [Julieta] is little, so we need to be strong, but sometimes I just can’t.”
Rocio Sifuentes was surprised to see so many people attend. The support was evidence of the impact Sifuentes Castilla had on the community, she said.
Detectives are investigating Sifuentes Castilla’s slaying as a domestic homicide and are still searching for 34-year-old suspect Manuel Omar Burciaga-Perea. Sgt. Aaron Cheshire of the Taylorsville Police Department said that Burciaga-Perea and the victim had been in a romantic relationship for less than a year.
Tuesday night, the Taylorsville Police Department announced that it had secured an arrest warrant for Burciaga-Perea.
“I want everybody to know who Gaby Ramos is,” Monica Calvo said. “To remember who she was and the legacy that she left — all the smiles she brought, and the positive thoughts she was talking about on the radio.”
A GoFundMe page set up after Sifuentes Castilla’s slaying to help cover funeral and travel expenses had raised more than $7,000 as of Wednesday.