St. Cloud showed Monday night that it is a family community … and a community of families.
Several hundred people came out to the St. Cloud Lakefront to support the family and friends of Nicole Montalvo, whose remains were discovered this weekend after she disappeared Monday afternoon, and banded together against domestic violence.
Montalvo’s estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, have been formerly charged in her murder, but Monday night was about being a celebration of how she lived, rather than how she died.
The vigil began at 7 p.m., as dusk sent in and began to envelop East Lake Toho and the beachfront park in evening. But the candles brought by many of the several hundred well-wishers and mourners lit up what her family called “one of her favorite places.”
“She was just a beautiful person. This gathering is a testament to that,” Ed Montalvo, Nicole’s father, said. “She was such a good mother, loved (her young son) Elijah to death. She would be absolutely amazed to see this turnout for her. We’re absolutely amazed.”
Nicole’s brothers, Eddie, a twin, and Steven also expressed their appreciation for the hundreds who turned out to support Nicole, the family, and the fight against domestic violence.
“It means so much that her live touched so many, and how significant she is to this community,” Eddie said. “As a twin, she was always a part of me. She’s here now with us.
“If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, there are voices that are there to listen to you. Love should not hurt or be painful.”
Said Steven: “We feel we have the community behind us. We know Nicole would want that.”
The family also expressed appreciation to the work law enforcement had done during the week after Nicole was reported missing, and in identifying a pair of crime scenes. Sheriff Russ Gibson, who also attended, showed appreciation for community members who have done what they can to have helped, and was adamant that anyone else who comes forward will be protected.
“Everyone who had a part in this will pay for this. This family needs you now more than ever,” he said Monday.
At a press conference Sunday night, Gibson made it clear that police will do a thorough investigation.
“We’re going to be thorough in our investigation, we will not rest until every shred of evidence is located and processed to establish such a strong chase to hand over to the State Attorney’s Office, have them prosecuted to the highest extent the law will allow,” he said. “This is to ensure Nicole has justice, and we want to be her voice.”
This is the second fatal case among domestic relationships this month. Just last week, the Sheriff’s Office reported that a male shot and killed a female victim whom police said he was in a relationship outside a Buenaventura Lakes gym, then turned the gun on himself.
All of this is occurring in the month of October, which by coincidence is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The outpouring of community emotion shows that domestic violence affects the entire community, said Tammy Douglass, the executive director of Help Now of Osceola County, and that it’s clear that the community is poised to support each other.
“The statement made at the beautiful vigil is that we shouldn’t tolerate it,” Douglass said.
Those who are in a position to need help can reach out to the Florida Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-500-1119. Locally, Help Now’s 24 Hour Crisis Line is 407-847-8562.
The family has started a GoFundMe page that they say will be used to “focus on Elijah’s immediate and future needs, including legal, medical, and educational support.” Click here to donate.