Funeral Held For Murder Victim

By: Brian Mastre, Erin Murray, Brittany Gunter, Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Brian Mastre, Erin Murray, Brittany Gunter, Jacki Ochoa Email
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Funeral services were held Saturday morning for the 93-year-old Omaha woman raped and killed last Sunday.

Out of respect for the family, we're only calling the victim Louise.

The reverend at her neighborhood church, St. Frances Cabrini, said the funeral focused on her life, not her death. "I don't know if you could ever get past that permanently anyway, but for now if we focus only on that we'll forget the true life of Louise," said Father James Buckley. "And that's what you do at a funeral, remember the life of the person."

Sergio Perez

The man accused of the crime, 19-year-old Sergio Martinez-Perez, appeared in court on Friday where a judge denied bond and scheduled a preliminary hearing for August 12th.

Martinez-Perez spoke through an interpreter, but said very little in his brief court appearance. Prosecutors said he had told them that on the night of the attack he was angry with women and was going to have sex with someone.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine filed a first-degree murder charge against Martinez-Perez on Thursday, a day after Louise died from her injuries. The state dismissed the sexual assault and burglary charges. "It's horrific anytime someone takes a life," said Kleine. "The facts and circumstances of this case and the victim are particularly disturbing."

Police say Martinez-Perez is in the country illegally, here less than two months, working as a roofer.

The family, who did not attend Friday’s hearing, is outraged and wants to know more about Martinez-Perez. “You came into her room, you took off your clothes, you beat her to a pulp with blood everywhere, I mean it just, it breaks my heart, it just, I hate to think that that is the last thing that went through my mother’s mind,” said her son Joe Sollowin. "It was real tough because you can't look at her face and see that kind of beating, you can't, it's beyond belief."

Louise had lived in the same home in the Little Italy neighborhood since the 1940s. She worked as a seamstress and baker at Orsi's. Sollowin said his mother was as healthy as could be and believes she would have lived to 100. “I hope I am in that good of shape when I am 93, don't need a walker, don't need a cane."

The family wants to know why Martinez-Perez was even here. “I think that needs to be investigated, who he works for, where he lives, does he live in this neighborhood, does he live somewhere around here,” said Sollowin. “I don't know."

He hopes that if Martinez-Perez is found guilty, he gets the death penalty. "I don't think just dying is enough. I know God will take care of it, but what goes through someone's mind to be able to do that is just pure evil, it's just evil.”

Kleine isn't ruling out the possibility of asking for the death penalty in this case.

Louise's granddaughter, Teresa Hartzell, told Channel 6 News Wednesday the image of the suspect leaving her grandmother's home taken into police custody will haunt her forever. "I was there when the police took him out and he just glared. I don't know, I don't think there's any words for it. I just can't understand why someone would do that. It doesn't make any sense."

Hartzell said all she can do now is remember the positive things about her grandmother. "She was a very strong woman. She could tell stories, she was very smart. She didn't have a whole lot of education, but she knew a lot. She loved her family and her family loved her."

Chief Deputy County Attorney Brenda Beadle told Channel 6 News Perez broke into the home and attacked Louise in bed. Her daughter, who lives with her, made the discovery. “She had awakened and was walking down the hall and heard her mother yelling for help. She went in to find this horror."

Hartzell said her mother is still struggling with what she saw. "[She had] just an adrenaline reaction and my mom pushed him away from her and was going to help my grandmother, but then saw that it was serious. She ran into the other room and called the police."

A police report indicated officers discovered a bloody and passed out naked male and unconscious female with visible injuries. The man was lying on top of her.

Beadle doesn’t believe the two knew each other, but said this may have been an action out of anger. “My understanding is he was out partying and something triggered him to make him angry."

Friends have established a fund in memory of Louise at all American National Bank branches with donations going toward expenses the family may incur, including medical bills.

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