The young woman found murdered just after her 20th birthday was married to the man now accused of killing her, and appears to have kept it a secret from her family.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Christina Matos of Raleigh, North Carolina, was reported missing last weekend and found dead in her apartment on April 5. Last week, police arrested Eric Gael Hernandez-Mendez on suspicion of murder.
Earlier reports stated the suspect was one of Matos’ two roommates, and the two had gone to high school together. The News & Observer now reports that Matos and Hernandez-Mendez were married on March 29, a week before her death.
Eric Gael Hernandez-Mendez, 20, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murdering Christina Maria Matos. The judge informed Hernandez-Mendez that he faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he is found guilty. https://t.co/d7FGJSvqU6
— CBS 17 (@WNCN) April 8, 2021
A friend told ABC 11 that Hernandez-Mendez had asked Matos to get married so that he could obtained legal citizenship. He reportedly offered her $15,000, and Matos believed they would divorce in a few years.
“He came to Christina in hopes that they could get married and he could be a legal citizen, and he promised, ‘OK, if we marry, I’ll give you $15,000 and we kind of like, kind of go our separate ways and eventually get divorced in three years,’ “ Christina’s friend Savannah Ferrell told the news station . “Christina had the full intention, just to get divorced, get her check and be gone.”
It is unclear if Hernandez-Mendez paid any of the promised money before allegedly killing his wife. Ferrell told WRAL that Hernandez-Mendez’s family knew about the marriage, but Christina’s father Gerardo Matos said he learned about the marriage after her death. According to multiple reports, the couple obtained a marriage license on February 12.
Ferrell told WRAL that Matos had recently become spooked by Hernandez-Mendez after finding his journal.
“Christina had found a diary of infatuation, and it made her really nervous, but she kept it to herself,” the friend said, while noting that Matos did share some of her fears.
“She said, ‘I just feel like something’s going to happen to me. I just don’t feel safe,'” Farrell said. “In hindsight, it’s like, how did I not, how did I not see it? You know, you don’t think that where you lay your head at is your death zone. You know, that’s your safe zone.”
Authorities have revealed that Matos was stabbed multiple times in the neck. As CrimeOnline previously reported, police found her body in her bedroom, which was locked.
According to WRAL, Matos’ family believes that more people were involved in her killing, though it is unclear why they suspect Hernandez-Mendez did not act alone.
Hernandez-Mendez could face the death penalty if convicted of murdering Matos.
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