DENVER – Friends, family, coworkers and neighbors joined together Saturday night to pay their respects and honor the life of a woman found murdered in her home last week.
According to Denver Police, on Wednesday evening a deceased adult female was discovered inside at home in the 4700 block of North Pearl Street. They were investigating the death as a homicide.
According to family, the victim is Josefina Mendez. She was a mother, grandmother and worked in Denver as a butcher.
“My mom was the type of person that she was willing to help anybody. She wouldn’t even know you and she would invite you to her house. She would go out of her way. She would give you the last 20 dollars in her pocket,” daughter Jenny Mendez told FOX31.
Dozens of people packed into Josefina’s front yard to light candles, say prayers and tell stories about her.
“She was very loved by everybody,” Jenny said. “It’s still hard to believe.”
As difficult as it is to lose Josefina, her family is now dealing with double the pain. They are also mourning the loss of Josefina’s son, Leonel Mendez.
According to the family, Leonel murdered his mother. Early Thursday morning, Denver police chased the suspect into Lakewood near Colorado Mills Mall and used a PIT maneuver to stop him.
Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said there was a foot pursuit and the suspect fired at officers. Officers returned fire, hitting the suspect. He died at the hospital.
“It’s really hard because it’s not only one loss. It’s two now and it’s days apart so it’s like, can it get any worse? And then it just ends up getting unimaginably worse. Like, a pain you wouldn’t want anyone to feel,” Jenny said.
Family and friends honored his life at Saturday’s vigil too. The family maintains there is no anger towards Leonel.
“My brother was just really heavy on drugs at the time,” Jenny said. “I have no hate for him. I have no blame for him.”
According to Jenny, her brother struggled with drugs for many years and recently had a relapse. She said he hadn’t been “doing good”. Still, they say they are shocked because the mother and son did not have any problems between them.
“We really never thought he would be capable of something like this and my mom didn’t either because she loved her son,” Jenny said.
Leonel’s 17-year-old daughter Rosalee broke down in tears begging people to remember her father for his smile and his sense of humor instead of his poor decisions.
“I just don’t want people to hate my dad. He’s not a bad person,” she told FOX31.AlertMe