South Los Angeles crime: mother of 4 beaten, stabbed to death by friend in front of her children, family says

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A south Los Angeles family mourns and seeks answers after a mother is stabbed to death by her boyfriend in front of her children.

Nicole Santillanes, 38, was a mother of four.

Her family said she was beaten and stabbed to death by her longtime boyfriend at an apartment complex on Broadway Avenue over the weekend.

She was killed in front of three of her four children, aged 8, 7 and 13, her family said. The friend, identified by police as Richard Lara, fled and remains on the run.

“She was like the life of the party. Everyone loved her. She was outgoing. She was very independent,” said Ashley Gjurich, Santillanes’ sister.

Gjurich told ABC7 she learned of her sister’s death from Santillanes’ 13-year-old daughter.

“She called my daughter. She screamed hysterically,” Gjurich recalls. “My daughter thought she was going to joke and say, ‘Mom, it’s just Stevie,’ and I said, ‘No, something’s wrong with her. What’s wrong with her?’ I was like, ‘Stevie, what’s going on?’ and she said, ‘He killed her. He killed my mother.'”

Gjurich now takes care of seven children, including her own and now her sister’s.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to Eyewitness News that Lara is the suspect in this case. Officials are still trying to find him. Friends and family said Santillanes and Lara were in a toxic on-and-off relationship for years that was linked to domestic violence.

Lara is the father of two children by Santillanes.

Santillanes’ eldest son said his focus now is on making his mum proud.

“I will follow her path,” said Dylan Cristales. “She wanted to be LVN, pharmaceutical technologist, I just go to school for something. Follow in their footsteps.”

The family has since created one GoFundMe to raise money for Santillanes’ funeral and resources for her children’s mental health.

They plan to hold a vigil Tuesday night.

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Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. South Los Angeles crime: mother of 4 beaten, stabbed to death by friend in front of her children, family says

Laura Coffey

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