LAWRENCE -- On Nov. 12, a week before Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino went missing, he and his half-sister, Alexandra Burdier, had a sad conversation via text message.
Viloria-Paulino had gone to a Sweet 16 party. But shortly after arriving, the Lawrence High sophomore left the gathering, texting Burdier as he sat outside, alone.
"I have no friends ... It feels like I'm a bother," said Burdier, reciting one of her brother's last texts to her.
To try to cheer him, Burdier quickly texted back that she "was so happy that he was my brother" and that she often feels the same as he did that night; alone and depressed.
"We are the exact same person," she texted Viloria-Paulino.
On Friday, Burdier will attend a funeral service for the first time. And it will be for Viloria-Paulino, the 16-year-old brother she recently connected with and immediately adored.
"It's going to destroy me ... He was my best friend. It was the best connection I ever made in my life," said Burdier, 18.
Burdier spoke Thursday to The Eagle-Tribune about Viloria-Paulino, saying the glare of a murder investigation and political moves that followed are overshadowing the loss of her beloved brother.
"I just want him to be remembered forever. I don't want people to talk down about him," she said. "This is somebody who didn't deserve this."
Viloria-Paulino's mutilated body was found on a riverbank behind McCabe Court off Water Street on Thursday, Dec. 1.
His classmate, Mathew Borges, 15, is held without bail, charged with first degree murder in Viloria-Paulino's death.
Borges told an unidentified witness that he stabbed and then beheaded Viloria-Paulino on Nov. 18 after the two went to the riverbank that evening to smoke marijuana, according to police.
Despite reports, Burdier said her brother was not friends with Borges and had only met him a week prior to his disappearance.
"He deliberately set him up on purpose," she said when asked what she felt was the motive for the murder. She also said she believes Borges "misled investigators" who were searching for her brother.
Answers instead of speculation
Burdier and Viloria-Paulino share the same biological father, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and are part of a large blended family living in Lawrence, she said.
On Aug. 3, 2015, Burdier posted on Instagram about how she had found "another brother," Viloria-Paulino, just a few months prior.
"Today we finally met in person for the first time and I couldn't be happier. I love you Lee. By the way, I'm definitely the cuter sibling. My big little brother," she captioned on a picture of the two of them together."
Normally a positive, upbeat person, Burdier said her brother had been down prior to this death. His mother had talked about moving back to the Dominican Republic and he didn't want to go, Burdier said.
She described Viloria-Paulino as an open-minded person who was fascinated with stories of government deception. He loved art and music and he smoked marijuana to relax, she said.
Marijuana, she said, "didn't do anything bad to him. He would talk and laugh. It made him feel better. It was part of who he was," she said, adding Viloria-Paulino was a "great thinker."
Burdier expressed frustration with investigators and asked they explain publicly what the motive for this murder was. She acknowledged a variety of rumors about the killing that are swirling in Lawrence.
"Put it out there. You might as well answer the questions instead of all this speculation," Burdier said.
In the wake of the murder, Burdier said people are stepping forward saying they are friends of her brother, friends of the family and even a spokesperson for the family. She said this isn't true and no one is going to tell her when and where she can talk about her brother.
"Half of his blood is my blood and I'm going to talk about it," Burdier said.
When he was missing, Burdier said she felt as though she "was going crazy" and "was putting up fliers" everywhere.
Burdier wants to talk with Lawrence High officials to see if a mural in Viloria-Paulino's memory can be created the school.
"He was more than just a Lawrence kid. He was meant to go places. He didn't get to live his life," she said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.
Funeral services for murder victim Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, 16, will be held Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Farrah Funeral Home, 133 Lawrence St., Lawrence.