A former Rockville Center restaurateur was arrested last week, charged with the July 30 shooting death of his girlfriend.
Nassau County police said they arrested Mark E. Small, 55, of Elmont, after a car allegedly hit him along the Long Island Freeway while he was chasing a small dog.
According to published information, this dog belonged to Marivel Estevez, the 39-year-old woman police found dead in her Mineola apartment on July 30.
Small reportedly owned and operated Grotto, a Caribbean-themed restaurant at 237 Sunrise Highway, which had closed in recent weeks, officials said.
Small had had a relationship with Estevez, police said, who was the assistant manager of a luxury apartment complex. It was his apartment at 140 Old Country Road in Mineola that caught the attention of authorities last week, however, called for a ‘wellness check’.
Police discovered Estevez’s body and it appears she was shot. They believe Small pulled the trigger, grabbed his pet, then drove off in Estevez’s car, driving to the Long Island Freeway.
There, according to investigators, Small collided with another vehicle, knocking out Estevez’s dog. Small gave chase, but another vehicle hit him.
The dog was never found, but Small was taken to a local hospital and treated for multiple broken bones. He was released on August 3, to be arrested and charged with Estevez’s murder.
He was arraigned in Hempstead First District Court for second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
If Small was responsible for Estevez’s death, police believe it may have started with an argument.
“Their relationship has been described by friends and family as tumultuous,” Capt. Scott Fitzgerald of the Nassau Homicide Squad told reporters after the arrest. Estevez had “recently confided in friends and family that she wanted to leave Mark and go back to Tampa” in Florida.
If the police know what the couple had argued about, they do not say it, but add that the investigation is ongoing.
Estevez grew up in Rockville Center, reports say, and some of his friends have started a crowdfunding page that they say will help cover unexpected funeral costs.
By early Wednesday, more than $18,600 had been raised on the platform through nearly 300 donations — so much so that its organizer, Cortney Roberts of Lake Mary, Florida, suspended new donations.
“Marivel was a loving daughter, sister, aunt and friend,” Roberts wrote on the crowdfunding site. “Everyone who knew Marivel loved her.
“She was a breath of fresh air with a smile that would light up any room. Marivel’s unexpected passing has hit her family hard, not just emotionally, but financially.
Estevez was the youngest of six children, all of whom were raised in Rockville Center, according to published reports.
“She was just wonderful to be around,” a brother told Newsday, adding that he hadn’t “found a single person, even growing up, who didn’t like her. She didn’t like trouble. She was just there for everyone.