FRESNO, Calif. - Five women have been killed, allegedly by their partners in the city of Fresno this year. The most recent victim was murdered on Tuesday, allegedly by her estranged husband. Now her family, the Marjaree Mason Center and police want to bring awareness to the issue, hoping to prevent other murders.
The Fresno Police Department has a Domestic Violence Apprehension team which goes after domestic violence offenders, but they say the majority of the times, fatal victims of domestic violence did not seek help before they were murdered.
Xia Vang, Suzanne Noriega, and Martha Mendiola are among the five women who were killed, allegedly by their husbands and boyfriend within the last eight months in Fresno.
According to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, domestic violence never gets better and in every case there was an incident leading up to the murder that could have served as a warning sign.
"The reality is that's usually not the first sign of abuse, it means that at some point along the way, there have been issues of control and maybe physical abuse if they've actually gone to the point where they have murdered their partner," Nicole Linder with the Marjaree Mason Center said.
The most recent victim is 50 year old Martha Mendiola. Her brother says Martha took the time to help other women out of domestic violence relationships. Ironically, she became a victim herself.
"Her whole proactive approach on domestic violence was fantastic and to become a victim of domestic violence is mind blowing," Henry Mendiola said.
Each year, the Marjaree Mason Center helps more than 5600 victims of domestic violence by providing housing, counseling and legal services. "To help people get out of a situation and most importantly heal from that situation and learn how to move on so that the next relationship isn't the same," Linder said.
The victim's families are now left without their loved ones but hope to raise awareness and prevent other victims from being killed. "A lesson learned and it's hard for us to communicate that at this point but she'd want that message to be heard, she'd want to make sure that there is change, that there is a difference and she impacted someone's life like she did every single day," Mendiola said.
According to Chief Dyer domestic violence increases during the holidays so their special unit will be going after domestic violence offenders within the next few weeks.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the 24 hour crisis hotline at 559-233-HELP or visit their website https://www.mmcenter.org/