Raleigh, N.C. — Family members, friends and co-workers on Thursday took time to remember a mother and father of two who were fatally shot in their Wake County home over the weekend, as the restaurant where the couple worked for 14 years raised money to help with funeral expenses and to care for their two children.
Wake County sheriff's investigators say the bodies of Jose Samual Flores Mendoza and his wife, Maria Saravia Mendoza, both 34, were found around 12:30 a.m. Saturday at their home at 708 Colonial Drive near Garner, after a neighbor called 911 when she heard loud noises.
The Mendozas both worked in the kitchen at Golden Corral on Grenelle Street in south Raleigh.
Golden Corral plans to match all donations made at the Grenelle Street restaurant on Thursday as a way to help provide for the couple's two sons and to cover the costs of two funerals.
Financial donations, made payable to the Maria and Jose Mendoza Fund, are also being accepted at any Wells Fargo bank branch.
"This family was part of the Golden Corral family. It's not just any family," said Scott Schaberg, a spokesman for the restaurant chain. "We wanted to be able to help them out the best way we thought we could."
It's a move for which the Mendozas' family members – still reeling from their loss and waiting for answers – are grateful.
"We are waiting to receive some news," Maria Mendoza's brother, Carlos Nativi, said. "But just as well, we have already forgiven those who have committed this crime."
Family members, including Maria Mendoza's niece, Karina Nativi, are now caring for the children – Jacob, 3, and Jorge, 12.
Jacob was home when his parents were killed, authorities have said. Jorge was not.
"I'm going to do everything I can to help them, to improve them, to encourage them and let them know I'm going to be with them," she said. "I'm not their cousin anymore. I'm their sister now."
The loss of the couple – described by many as quiet, kind, hard-working and religious – has also hit the staff and customers hard.
"Tears started flowing (when I found out)," said Deffany Swain, a waitress who worked with the couple. "I was just taken by it, shocked. He was such a nice person, and from what I understand, she was a very nice person also."
Customers, such as Mannie Swindell who often eats at the restaurant, knew the couple well.
"They were wonderful people, and they didn't deserve what they got," she said.
The Wake County Sheriff's Office hasn't released many details about the case, including a possible motive for the crime or any information about a possible suspect.
Detectives and crime scene investigators spent six days at the couple's home collecting evidence and searching for clues.
They are asking that anyone with information that could help them solve it to contact the Wake County Sheriff's Office at 919-856-6900.
"It's a tough one, but we are putting the pieces together," Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Saturday.