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Murdered California woman, whose mother found her dead in bathroom, was killed by abusive ex-boyfriend, police say

Aaron Romo murdered Mirelle Mateus, police said. (Images: Anaheim Police Department)

Aaron Romo murdered Mirelle Mateus, police said. (Images: Anaheim Police Department)

A California man with an alleged history of domestic violence is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend and now police believe he may have abused more women.

The family of 24-year-old Mirelle Mateus says the system failed her after they sought help last year against defendant Aaron Romo, 36, according to reports from KABC and KTLA.

Officers in Anaheim, California, said the murder happened Friday.

“On Friday, March 17, 2023, at about 2:24 p.m., Anaheim Police Dispatch received reports of suspicious circumstances at an apartment in the 1900 block of S. Union St.,” cops wrote.

They said they entered the apartment to find Mateus dead inside.

The 24-year-old’s mother Alice Mateus said she was the person who found her dead that day. She told KABC she noticed Mateus was missing and, sensing something was wrong, said she went to Romo’s apartment to find it unlocked and her daughter dead inside.

“That is when I found my daughter dead in the bathroom,” Alice Mateus reportedly told the outlet. “It was I who found her dead in the bathroom. It was not the police. The system failed me.”

The Family told KTLA Romo had a history of abuse. They said they pursued help from the court and filed for a restraining order in late 2022.

Detectives determined Mateus was murdered, according to cops in the new homicide case, and zeroed in on Romo as the suspect, arresting him later on Friday in Riverside County. He was booked into the Anaheim Police Department Detention Facility for murder.

He was held without bail and scheduled for arraignment.

Romo and Mateus used to be in a relationship, officers said. They said Romo previously hurt other women, and they want to speak to them.

“Detectives believe Romo has assaulted other women in the past and are asking for anyone with previous contact with Romo to come forward,” police wrote. “Because the investigation is ongoing, detectives have declined to elaborate on evidence or to discuss possible motives.”

Romo posted bail in December for a domestic violence case, according to KABC. The crimes are corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, false imprisonment, and a misdemeanor charge each of resisting arrest and battery. KTLA noted a Dec. 5 allegation pertaining to his ex-wife.

“He claimed to be suicidal, and I think that’s what my sister’s fear was,” Mateus’ sister, Sandy Caceros, told the outlet. “You know, that’s one thing she did mention to me, that her fear was for him to take his own life because she wouldn’t have been able to live with that.”

She started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for Mateus’ funeral.

“As angry as I am and as hurt as I am, I’m going to do whatever it takes to bring justice to her because it’s what she deserves,” Caceros said. “We got to put this man in there for the rest of his life and not be able to come out ever again and hurt anybody.”

“She came to illuminate our lives,” Alice told KABC. “Ever since she was born, that light in her eyes, the angel that God gifted to me in that moment, she changed our lives forever.”

Police ask that anyone with information on the homicide or Romo to call them at 714-321-3669. You can also reach the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS or

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