Domestic violence plagued the family for years and now the eldest child of Martha Casillas is warning other women to report abuse. Casillas was stabbed to death over the weekend and her estranged husband is in jail.
"My mom was like everything to me. She was like a hero to us. She was like the best mom ever," said Katia Chavez, Casillas' daughter.
Katia, 22, hopes to gain custody of her two younger brothers after her mom, 39-year-old Casillas, was stabbed to death Saturday night. It happened on Dakota Drive. Police say the killer was Mario Chavez, Casilla's husband of more than 20 years.
"I feel so disappointed. I feel like I hate him so much," said Katia.
Mario is in jail on a no bail hold, so he can't be released. Police say Mario murdered Casillas while out on bail for an incident in August. They say he threatened the couple's 6-year-old son with a knife.
Deputy District Attorney Angela Bernhard is handling the murder case and says Casillas did everything she could to protect her family from that point forward. Bernhard said, "She took her children and she moved out of the home. There was a protective order in place, she was really trying to get away from him and unfortunately, he wouldn't stop and he came after her and this is what happened."
The detective investigating the case, San Jose Det. Juan Jose Vallejo, says domestic violence victims need to seek out help immediately. He told us, "Many of these situations go unreported and it's a constant history of unreported domestic violence which leads to something very brutal like this."
Katia thinks her mom would still be alive if her mom had spoken up sooner. She urges others to not make the same mistake. She wanted to warn other women, "If you're suffering by domestic violence or something, just talk because she didn't, so you see what happened to her."
Katia is now trying to handle her mother's funeral. The San Jose Police Officer's Association has set up a fund to help the family.
San Jose Police Officers' Association Charitable Foundation
Victims' Assistance Program, Supporting Victims of Crimes and Accidents
Donations are being accepted to help with the future financial support for Casillas' three children.
Checks can be sent to:
San Jose Police Officers' Association
1151 North Fourth Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Or donate online here