Friend: Immigration, money were basis of marriage between slain woman, suspected killer
Posted April 9, 2021 10:52 a.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2021 1:37 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A woman found dead in a Raleigh apartment last weekend and her accused killer were husband and wife, according to Wake County records.
Erick Gael Hernandez-Mendez and Christina Maria Matos were issued a marriage license on Feb. 12. They were married on March 29, six days before Matos was found dead in the Hillsborough Street apartment where the couple lived with a high school classmate.
Matos' family said they hadn't heard from her since April 2, which was her 20th birthday, and they asked Raleigh police to go into her apartment to check on her.
Police haven't released a cause of death.
Matos' father, Gerardo Matos, broke down and cried Friday when he learned that his daughter had married Hernandez-Mendez. The two had been friends since middle school and graduated from Clayton High School in 2020.
Savannah Ferrell, a friend of Christina Matos, told WRAL News that Hernandez-Mendez's family knew about the marriage, which was intended for him to gain legal residency in the U.S.
"He told her he was going to give her $15,000 in exchange for her signing the paper, and she had the intention of, 'OK, we'll divorce after three years,' because he told her he was an illegal immigrant," Farrell said.
Christina Matos planned to use the money she obtained for the marriage to help her family, Farrell said.
Farrell said Christina Matos found a diary that Hernandez-Mendez kept where he wrote about her, and whatever was inside scared her.
“Christina had found a diary of infatuation, and it made her really nervous, but she kept it to her self," she said.
Still, Christina Matos told her friend days before she was killed that she feared for her life.
"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.”
The Matos family is convinced that others were involved in the slaying and has asked that Raleigh police continue to investigate the case.
Hernandez-Mendez, also 20, remains in the Wake County jail without bond.
Christina Matos' funeral is set for noon Monday at Lea Funeral Home Chapel, 2500 Poole Road in Raleigh.