- Raisa Habersham The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Months ago, it seemed likely that Diana Romero wouldn’t survive the stabbings that killed her father and four siblings.
But the resilient 9-year-old was all smiles when Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputies recently gave her a flower arrangement and other treats.
“She’s really a special little girl,” Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Volkodav told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Her story touched our hearts.”
On July 6, Gwinnett police said Isabel Martinez fatally stabbed her husband, Martin Romero, 33, and four children — 2-year-old Axel, 4-year-old Dillan, 7-year-old Dacota and 10-year-old Isabela — at their Gwinnett Estates mobile home.
Diana was the lone survivor. Isabel Martinez is charged with five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six charges of aggravated assault.
Diana has since returned to school and lives with her aunt and her husband and their two children, Volkodav said.
Volkodav was one of the deputies who visited Diana at her aunt’s home last week with the gifts. She said she’d gotten the idea after the department held a community event for the children at Diana’s former home.
“You got a really strong sense that this was a close-knit community that spent time together,” she said.
But that changed when Volkodav heard the students in the neighborhood hadn’t played outside since the slayings. She organized the Aug. 11 community event and asked for donations for the kids.
“We had so many things that we had to get a trailer,” she said.
The items were handed out, but people still wanted to give. Volkodav suggested they send gift cards to give to Diana for when she’s recovered.
Volkodav said it’s rare that she attaches herself to cases, but the tragedy with Diana and her family stayed with her.
“People in my position are charged with doing things we don’t always enjoy,” she said. “When we have an opportunity like this to bless a community, it really feels good.”