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'It's really hard to describe': Family of Karina Joy Rodriguez reminisces 1 year after she was poisoned by fentanyl

Karina Joy Rodriguez was one of five people found dead in a Commerce City apartment on Feb. 20, 2022, after they took cocaine laced with fentanyl.

Darius Johnson, Janet Oravetz (9News), Amy Hunter

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Published: 8:15 AM MST February 20, 2023
Updated: 8:15 AM MST February 20, 2023

In life, it’s common that grief never settles and love never fades.

“Like you would hear her before you saw her. She had this loud voice," said Feliz Sanchez Garcia. "You always hear, like, oh they were bright, they lit up a room. She really did.” 

As time passes fond memories with Karina Joy Rodriguez feel like yesterday. It's been a year since she and four others died inside a Commerce City apartment on Feb. 20, 2022. They took cocaine that they did not know was laced with fentanyl.

“It’s hard when you talk to someone every day, all day, to just go about your life like normal,” said Mileiah Rodriguez.

Life hasn’t been normal since Feliz and Mileiah lost their baby sister Karina a year ago.

Credit: Mileiah Rodriguez
Karina Rodriguez and her family.

“I think it’s been probably the fastest but longest time ever. It’s really hard to describe,” Feliz said.

The memories of this past year aren’t easy when Feliz and Mileiah look at their sister through her children. Whether it’s 11-year-old Josiah or 15-month-old Aria.

“She is just the funniest little baby and she’s so happy. I just -- it’s like all these happy moments are filled, like, they’re always going to come with this sadness that comes to them,” Feliz said.

Karina and her boyfriend Sam Marquez aren’t here to witness these moments.

Credit: Mileiah Rodriguez
Karina Joy Rodriguez and Sam Marquez

"They were a young couple, they were happy. They had their stuff together,” Feliz said.

Karina and Mileiah were inseparable. They always had the same friends. And Mileiah still remembers the evening of Feb. 19 like it was yesterday.

“I talked to her that night. I talked to her while she was at dinner she was waiting on her table,” Mileiah said.

It was Karina and Sam at dinner. They were joined by Sam's sister Cora Marquez, and her husband Humberto Arroyo Ledezma.

Credit: Cora Marquez
Cora Marquez, Karina Rodriguez, Sam Marquez, Humberto Arroyo Ledezma at dinner together on Feb. 19.

Afterward, they went to Karina and Sam’s apartment in Commerce City. Stephine Monroe and Jennifer Cunningham were invited over to have a good time. Sadly five people inside apartment 307 had no idea this would be their final sunset.

Credit: Feliz Sanchez Garcia, Amy Hunter
(left to right) Karina and Sam, Stephine, Humberto and Jennifer

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