BEND, OR -- The man accused of shooting his girlfriend as she ran from her northeast Redmond home Friday night, was arraigned in Deschutes County Court, Monday afternoon.
Investigators believe 23-year-old Mario Morataya murdered 24-year-old Rebekah Gomes because she was trying to end the relationship. Janet Huerta, Executive Director of Saving Grace in Bend, tells KBND News it’s a tragedy that happens more often than most people realize. "We call this post-separation violence, and it’s actually much more dangerous. People don’t think of it that way, but if we had a chance to interview all of the homicide victims, we would probably find out that 100% of cases, people were trying to leave."
She says the highest risk of violence is typically the two years following a break-up. "I think most people think that if you just get away you’re safe. It’s very important to remember safety planning, and it has to be done continuously. You don’t just do it once; you might have to do it on a daily basis; you might have to do it multiple times a day. Saving Grace provides these kinds of resources to help people safely get out of these relationships and stay safe." She adds that the concern revolves around an abuser's need for control over the relationship. "Their way of maintaining control is usually using some sort of coercion or threat of violence. In the past, it might have been enough just to say ‘I will kill you’ or, ‘I’m going to hurt your mother, your father, your child.’ And, when a victim is saying ‘no, I don’t want this anymore, I’m going to get away.’ They then go back to ‘the way I’m used to doing it is by using violence, the threats aren’t good enough.’ She still goes, and the gun is pulled."
And, Huerta says the death of Rebekah Gomes is indicative of a societal trend. "It’s unfortunately not unique. I think one of the reasons we don’t see more of it here is because our population is so low relative to the rest of the world. You can go to other places and you’ll see one or more of these a day. It’s unfortunate that it takes something like this to think about it, ask questions about it. But, now that we’re here, let’s honor this life that was lost by thinking about how do we all have healthy relationships."
Gomes' family started a GoFundMe page
to help with funeral expenses. She leaves behind a 5-year-old son. Morataya faces a number of charges, including Murder and Kidnapping. His next court appearance is scheduled for December 21.