- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

BALTIMORE Melvin Mora returned to the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, shaken by the apparent contract killing of his brother, Jose, but relieved to be back from the turmoil of Venezuela.
After three days in his homeland comforting relatives, paying respect to his brother and learning the bizarre details of his death, Mora wanted nothing more than to get to baseball.
"You have to be strong," said Mora, who batted leadoff and started in center field for the Orioles last night against the Boston Red Sox. "I can't play baseball thinking about my brother. Maybe people will say, 'He's 0-for-2 because he's thinking about his brother,' but that's not true."
It has been a trying few days for the Baltimore utility player, who first got word of his brother's death Sunday morning before the Orioles' game at Tampa Bay. He and wife Gisel flew immediately to his hometown of Valencia, Venezuela, whereupon they were told the troubling events of the weekend.
According to Mora, Jose was shot and killed by a hit man outside his home. His murderer was paid $300 by another man who was involved in a fight with Jose five months ago.
The news did not come as a surprise considering the life his brother led and the current turmoil in Venezuela.
"The life we have over there is crazy," Mora said. "I wish I had the power to fix that country, but I don't."
Mora said his brother's apparent killer called his family to inform them that while he accepted the money, he did not kill Jose. Mora has his doubts, though he is leaving the matter entirely to the Venezuelan police.
"They killed my brother, but I don't want to take it back," he said. "I wouldn't do anything because that's not the way we are. The only thing I was worried about was my mother."
Felipa Mora was particularly close to Jose, and Melvin Mora one of 10 children in the family was concerned about her well-being.
"It hurts when you see your momma cry," Mora said. "But she was feeling better after I got there."
A funeral was held at Felipa Mora's home in Valencia, after which the matriarch told her ballplayer son to go back to Baltimore and return to his normal life. He boarded a plane Tuesday night and arrived home around 1 a.m., exhausted physically and mentally but ready to return to baseball.
"I didn't sleep until yesterday. It's hard to stay up all night," Mora said. "Now it's back to business."


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