Vigil to remember Martha Mendiola

Fresno, Calif. - Thursday night friends, family, and members of the Fresno community gathered to remember a woman police say was killed as a result of domestic violence. Investigators say Martha Mendiola was killed by her estranged husband David Peña. Peña is in jail as people remember Mendiola at a candlelight vigil.

On a frigid Fresno night nearly 100 people gather at a Fresno home, the scene of a tragedy. They're here to remember Martha Mendiola with a Candlelight vigil.

"As the flame goes May we always remember how loving she wants and how she touched everyone of our hearts in a very beautiful way and may we always remember those memories," one family member said. 

Mendiola and was allegedly killed here by her estranged husband. Police say she was brutally murdered in the garage of her Fresno home by 49-year-old David Pena, who then left her body in a car on N. Anna St.

Pena is in jail.

"Detectives did locate the knife that was used in this stabbing along with other physical evidence. Part of that physical evidence was the cell phone belonging to the victim," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

In her life Martha made an impact on all of the people here for the vigil. Her Brother remembers her special qualities.

"Her loving spirit, she was so vivacious outgoing, she always made you feel welcome," said Martha's brother Henry Mendiola. 

Family members say Martha was a champion for victims of domestic violence and it's a shame she appears to have become a victim herself.

Martha's supporters want the community to take notice

"Tell people you have a problem, communicate the issues because she'd want them to save themselves and not have a horrible act like this be repeated on someone else," said Henry Mendiola. 

Martha's family is working on getting us information on ways to donate and show support, but they say they need time to mourn.


Previous story from 11/29:

More information on the woman who was found dead inside a car in Central Fresno. She's been identified as 50 year old Martha Mendiola and was allegedly killed by her estranged husband. Mendiola was reported missing on Tuesday and after a welfare check at her home, several different agencies ended up investigating three different crime scenes

Mendiola lived at a home on West Sussex where police say she was brutally murdered in the garage by her husband, 49 year old David Pena, was then taken in her car and left on N. Anna St.

"What they found in the back seat of the vehicle was a blue tarp that had been laid out, underneath that tarp was Martha Mendiola who was wrapped in a blanket, there was blood on her back and a stab wound in her back area as well," Chief Jerry Dyer said.

Mendiola was found Tuesday afternoon after co- workers reported she had not shown up to work and had not responded to any calls.  They received responses to some texts later but believed that they were suspicious and contacted police.

"They knew she had marital problems, they also believed, for whatever reason, call it intuition that something was wrong, this was unlike her to not show up to work, she was a very reliable employee and did not call in in advance," Chief Dyer said.

Detectives did an emergency ping on her phone along with Pena's and found the man at a home on Simpson Ave not far from where her body was found.

"Detectives did locate the knife that was used in this stabbing along with other physical evidence. Part of that physical evidence was the cell phone belonging to the victim." Chief Dyer also said the couple had been together for seven years, married for 5, but they had problems and she asked him to leave her home about two weeks ago.

Neighbors on Simpson Ave say Pena ended up staying at this home, which they described as a drug house.

Gordon Tucker said "My neighbor says he come walking down the street here with blood all over him and went in the house"

Mendiola's friends and family described her as a kind hearted person who will be greatly missed. This is the 5th murder in the city of Fresno this year involving domestic violence.

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