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Workout fundraiser held in honor of OC woman allegedly murdered by ex-boyfriend


A La Palma woman who was allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend was honored Saturday morning in a way her family says she would've loved: by taking a morning trip to the gym.

Friends, supporters and fellow gym-mates of Mirelle Mateus gathered for a workout fundraiser at the All Women's Gym in Fullerton, a place the 24-year-old spent much of her time.

"You didn't even have to know she was there, just by laughing, you knew it was her," said Cindy Garcia, who was one of Mateus' friends. "If you were sad, her smile would brighten up your whole day."

Guests worked out in Mateus' honor, remembering her life and the joy they say she brought to people every day.

"It just shows now amazing my sister was," said Sandy Caceros, the victim's sister. "She had everyone's love and support. Every person she met she touched in a special way."

According to police, Mateus was found dead inside an apartment on March 17 in the 1900 block of S. Union Street in Anaheim.

Her ex-boyfriend, 36-year-old Aaron Romo, was arrested and booked into jail for murder later that day. Police said at the time, he was out on bail from a domestic violence case dating back to December. Her friends and family described Mateus as a light that was taken too soon.

"The only thing I want is justice for her because the system failed her," said her mom, Alice Mateus.

Investigators believe Romo has assaulted other women in the past and are asking anyone who may have had previous contact with him to contact authorities.

Her friends said it all still doesn't feel real.

"The sadness became anger and the anger confusion and that's why we're here now," Garcia.

The family started a GoFundMe , with proceeds going toward funeral expenses. They're also working to start a nonprofit for other victims of domestic abuse.

"It's heartbreaking that my sister had to pay that price but we're here to change that now," said Caceros. "We're here to prevent this from happening to anyone else."

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Anaheim PD at 714-321-3669 or the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS. You can also visit the Orange County Crime Stoppers' website.

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