LITTLE VILLAGE — Rosa Perez's family was certain of her killer's identity Thursday afternoon, hours after the 27-year-old mother was found stabbed multiple times in her home.
"It was her boyfriend — his name is Aaron Mejia," Perez's mother said outside the couple's home Thursday, before charges were announced. According to Perez's family, the woman was consistently beaten by Mejia, who was on parole at the time of Perez's death.
Police confirmed the family's suspicions Sunday when charges of first-degree murder were announced against Mejia, 19, in the fatal stabbing. Police arrested Mejia Saturday.
According to Perez's family, the woman was found stabbed 27 times, strangled and hidden in a small room where Mejia had planned to "put her into a laundry bag."
The two had dated for three years and lived in their apartment on the 2200 block of South Sacramento Avenue for a year before Perez was found murdered at about 10 a.m. Thursday
Perez was discovered unresponsive and pronounced dead on arrival after she was stabbed multiple times, police said.
"I never liked him; he was always too aggressive," said Denise Townsend, 22, Perez's sister. "He always beat my sister. She always had bruises on her."
Unfortunately, Townsend said, Perez was in love — she wouldn't leave Mejia despite her family's objections.
"On the street they call him 'Terrorizer,'" said Magali Hernandez, a close friend of Perez, who was nicknamed 'Torta' since she was a child.
Hernandez browsed and shared pictures of her slain friend, including one of Perez and Mejia together, as Perez's family huddled close around her for support.
Rosa Guerrero said she had last seen her niece the Wednesday night, the day before she was killed. And she had a message for Mejia as nearly a dozen of Perez's friends and family waited in tears outside of her home Thursday:
"Turn yourself in," she urged. "What you did was wrong, she did not deserve this — her whole life was ahead of her."
According to Guerrero, an argument between Perez and Mejia was overheard by neighbors the night she was killed, which she thinks may have preceded her niece's death.
"She was screaming out," Guerrero said.
"I don't know where I'm at right now," Perez's mother, Juanita Guerrero said between tears Thursday. "Why the hell did you do that to my daughter when you could have just let her go?" she asked, addressing her daughter's alleged killer.
"She was a beautiful girl — a lovely person," Guerrero said between tears Thursday afternoon. "She loved her daughter to death. She was just trying to do her thing."
She held up a photo of her daughter before leaving the scene of her murder and heading to a nearby school to inform her granddaughter of her mother's death.
Mejia is scheduled to appear in court Monday.