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St. Petersburg police say a man killed his son and himself

Alvaro Marin dropped hints about dark happenings in his native Colombia. Guerillas. Death threats. A near kidnapping.

But he would never elaborate. Too hurt maybe. Or too proud.

"He just shut down," said Brenda Ball, his ex-wife. "He'd just say, 'Brendita, no, no, no, I don't want to talk about it any more."

Now Marin, 58, has left behind an even bigger question mark.

St. Petersburg police said Monday that it was Marin who shot his 20-year-old son to death last week before turning the gun on himself.

Relatives found the bodies Friday in the northeast St. Petersburg apartment that Marin shared with his son, Juan Marin.

Police spokes Mike Puetz said he could not release more details while the investigation continues. But he said the preliminary conclusion is based on the positioning of the bodies and the location of the gun.

Alvaro Marin did not leave a note. Puetz said the motive is unclear.

"Nobody knows why at all," said Marin's nephew, Jorge Restrepo. "Nobody saw it coming."

"I'm not surprised he didn't leave a note," said Ball, who was married to Alvaro Marin from 2005 and 2007. "That was him. You couldn't get a lot of answers from him."

Ball said Marin was warm, but also intensely private and often depressed. He moved to the United States about a decade ago. His wife, Rosauro, died of cancer in 2004 at age 49. In Columbia, he was a well-to-do doctor, Ball said. Here, he struggled to speak English.

Ball said he worked a series of odd jobs — cleaning homes, mopping floors, ironing clothes. In 2006, he landed a gig as an operating room technician at St. Anthony's Hospital, she said. She's not sure why it didn't last.

In the meantime, he dropped hints of another life: He read serious fiction by Latin authors. He took the New York Times.

He loved America, but considered Americans ungrateful, Ball said. He knew what it was like to have so much — and to lose all of it.

"He kept saying to me, 'American people don't know how good they have it,' " Ball said. "They don't understand what it's like to be driving down the road, and be stopped by guerillas."

Questions remain about Marin's relationship with his son.

Rebecca Rhoden, who became friends with Juan Marin in massage school, described him as funny, good-natured, a "sparkling personality." She said he had beefs with his dad, but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary between a guy just out of high school and his father.

He rode his bike to massage school. He graduated in June. His father came to the ceremony and took photos.

Juan "was ambitious. He was not going to be just nothing," Rhoden said. "This was the beginning of a bright future."

St. Petersburg police say a man killed his son and himself 11/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 22, 2010 11:05pm]
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