The family of a Lake Wales mother who was murdered in El Salvador is struggling to figure out how to bring her body and her daughter, who traveled there with her, back home, the victim's sister said Monday.
Maria Louis Martinez, 33, had been in El Salvador visiting her boyfriend, Ruben Elias Blanco Arevalo, for five weeks. She planned to return this past weekend. Two days before her trip back to Florida, she was murdered and Arevalo is a suspect.
It's very difficult news to for the family to take.
"Shock. Disbelief. Not wanting to believe or accept what happened," said Rebecca Lopez, Martinez's sister. "Even though I've read it in black and white, I don't want to accept it. I don't want to believe it because I haven't seen her body. I haven't seen her."
According to reports, Arevalo beat Martinez, then ran her over with his car.
"She was brutally murdered," Lopez said. "He ran her over not once, but he ran her over twice."
A letter from investigators in El Salvador to Lopez confirmed that Arevalo is a suspect.
Children's services in El Salvador is caring for Martinez's 3-year-old daughter. Lopez's mother and other sister are in El Salvador hoping to take custody of the little girl.
Lopez said officials in El Salvador told her she'd have to pay $4,000 to have Martinez's body released to her. Lopez and her family are working with the U.S. Embassy to try to figure out how to come up with the money.
"No matter what, until I see her, I don't want to believe it. I don't want my sister to stay in another country when she needs to be over here," Lopez said.
Martinez's family has set up a fundraising page for donations: http://www.gofundme.com/a17b3o
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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