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MANATEE — The children of a woman found dead by the side of the road in rural Palmetto on Thursday believe someone their mother knew and trusted abducted her from her home and was involved in her death.
CrimePAY$ is offering a $1,000 Reward for an arrest and conviction in her case.
Gladys Bernadette Phicien, whose body was positively identified Friday morning, was beaten to death and left by the side of the road at the intersection of 24th Avenue East and 29th Street Street, said her son, Alex Phicien, 45, of Haines City.
“The way she died, she did not deserve to die like this,” Alex Phicien said, fighting back tears. “They started beating her around the stomach and then beat her on her head. I believe this was a set-up. I believe this must have been a person she knows really well. We want justice for our mom.”
“We want these people arrested today,” added Alex’s sister, Roodline Phicien of Palmetto.
The siblings say they can’t imagine what the motive for the slaying would be.
Gladys Phicien had moved to Palmetto about four years ago to be close to her two daughters, Gladys and Roodline, who lived in Palmetto. She worked as a produce picker at West Coast Tomato and loved it, they said. She lived with Roodline and kept watch on her two boys, ages 8 and 7, when Roodline went to her night job as a certified nursing assistant.
“She was a loving woman,” said Roodline, who lives in the 1400 block of Ninth Avenue East, Palmetto. “She was totally attached to her kids and grandkids.”
“She worked every day for us,” Alex said. “She lived for us.”
Alex Phicien said his sister Gladys, who talked to her mother many times during the day, has not been able to eat or drink since learning of the death.
The only questionable thing the children could think of involving their mother was that she often brought a popular tyle of alcohol back from Haiti on her visits and sold it around Palmetto.
But they can’t imagine her death was related to her sideline sale of spirits.
Alex believes someone, for some reason, either knocked on the front door late Wednesday night, tapped on his mother’s bedroom window or had a key to the house. Once in, Alex believes the assailants abducted his mother who was later found in her night clothes.
Roodline’s boys got up the next morning and got ready for school on their own as they do on rare occasions when their grandmother goes to a neighbors to visit, Roodline said.
“There were only three people with a key to the house, which is me, Alex and my mom,” Roodline said. “My mom lost her key awhile back and so Alex gave her his.”
“I believe if we can find out who opened the door we can find justice,” Alex Phicien said.
Gladys was 62, but due to a mix-up with her personal documents when she came to the United States from Haiti about 20 years ago, her birthday was listed as 1963 when it’s really 1950, family members said.
Gladys has eight grandchildren, including Roodline’s boys.
A neighbor told authorities and Roodline that a red van with green stripes came to the family home twice on Wednesday.
“I wish I knew who was driving that van,” Roodline said.
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