A 24-year-old California nurse was found dead by her mother in the home of her ex-boyfriend, who was free on bail on domestic violence charges, authorities said.
Mirelle Mateus’ mom told ABC 7 she sensed something was wrong March 17 so she went to the apartment of her daughter’s ex-boyfriend in Anaheim, where she made a horrifying discovery after opening the unlocked front door.
“That is when I found my daughter dead in the bathroom,” Alice Mateus told the outlet. “It was I who found her dead in the bathroom. It was not the police. The system failed me.”
The family told KTLA that the ex-boyfriend, Aaron Romo, 36, had a history of abuse and that they had filed for a restraining order late last year.
Anaheim police said they “received reports of suspicious circumstances” about 2:30 p.m. at the apartment on South Union Street, where they found Mirelle’s body.
Romo was identified as a suspect and was arrested later on a murder charge later that day in Riverside County, police said in a statement.
“Detectives confirmed Romo and Mateus were previously in a romantic relationship,” police said. “Detectives believe Romo has assaulted other women in the past and are asking for anyone with previous contact with Romo to come forward.”
Citing the ongoing investigation, police have not released additional information, including the cause of death and a possible motive.
“My Mirelle didn’t deserve that death that man gave her,” her mother told ABC 7. “She didn’t deserve it, and if there’s women that know this man, please say something. Don’t be afraid.”
She added: “Please don’t stay silent. Report any incident of domestic violence so that what happened to my daughter doesn’t happen to them.”
Authorities did not say when Romo and Mateus dated or for how long.
Her sister Sandy Caceros told KTLA that Romo “claimed to be suicidal, and I think that’s what my sister’s fear was.
She added: “You know, that’s one thing she did mention to me, that her fear was for him to take his own life because she wouldn’t have been able to live with that.”
Romo has a record of domestic violence cases, including one involving a Dec. 5 incident with his ex-wife. The case was pending while he was out on bond, according to KTLA.
In that case, he faced two felony counts of corporal injury on a spouse and false imprisonment, along with misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and battery, USA Today reported.
Romo had pleaded not guilty.
In another case, a woman in a previous relationship with Romo filed a 50-page restraining order in September that cited several instances of abuse.
Romo allegedly raped both her and her friend in April; beat her up after breaking down her hotel room door in Las Vegas in May; and landed her in the ER in an assault in August 2021, according to the news outlet.
“Aaron’s abuse towards me is escalating,” the woman reportedly wrote. “Aaron has threatened to kill me … and my family. His anger and violence are intensifying, and I fear that he may follow through on his threats.”
Mirelle’s sister has launched a GoFundMe account, where she wrote that the family has “lost one of our most sacred precious beings in our life that God blessed us with.
“Mirelle Nicolle Mateus was a 24 year old student, hard worker, loving daughter, amazing sister, the best aunt to her niece & nephews, great friend, over all a very special caring generous person with a heart so pure & full of love,” she wrote.
Mirelle also was described by her sister as a caring nurse who dreamed of traveling.
“As angry as I am and as hurt as I am, I’m going to do whatever it takes to bring justice to her because it’s what she deserves,” Caceros told KTLA. “We got to put this man in there for the rest of his life and not be able to come out ever again and hurt anybody.”
Her devastated mom told ABC 7: “She came to illuminate our lives. Ever since she was born, that light in her eyes, the angel that God gifted to me in that moment, changed our lives forever.
“My little girl was a miracle in my life,” Alice added.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Anaheim police at 714-321-3669 or the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.
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