BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — "I don't have a sister to call sister anymore," said Danielle Pena Gonzales.
She is the younger sister of Yvette Pena, the slain woman whose body was found Sunday in the El Morocco Motel on Golden State Avenue. She said she's still in shock over the news.
It all started, she said, with a knock on her door. A knock that would change her life forever.
"I assumed overdose, but when (coroner's office investigators) said homicide, that's something when you have a loved one that's involved in drugs, you expect," said Gonzales.
Gonzales said Pena, 36, became entangled in a disastrous web of drugs nearly eight years ago. She said her sister used the drugs as a coping mechanism for traumatic experiences she went through as a child.
"I knew she knew better, and I knew she was better, and I didn't understand how this great mom and this woman who was so involved in the church, because she loved church, and she loved God, and she always preached. Well then why are you using drugs?" Gonzales said.
Gonzales said she believes drugs led her sister to the El Morocco Motel. It's the place Pena called home for the last few months and a place where her life would eventually come to an end.
Bakersfield police found Pena's body in a room Sunday afternoon. Tuesday, they said the autopsy report is pending, and they are waiting for a toxicology report. On Sunday, a police officer at the scene told Eyewitness News that Pena had been stabbed.
"I'm coping that she's dead, I haven't began to process the part that she's been murdered and that there's somebody out there," said Gonzales.
Gonzales said she doesn't know who would want to harm her older sister, but she fears the killer is walking free.
"No matter what, I love her," the sister said. "I always did, I never stopped. No matter where she lived, no matter what she did, no matter how mad I was at her decisions, I still loved her."
Gonzales wants people to remember her sister not for the mistakes that she made, but rather for the great person that she was. She said she was a mother who loved, and who had an insatiable need to love.
Pena's family is holding a fundraiser car wash at the Big-O Burgers on Flower Street this Saturday and Sunday. The Basham Funeral Care will also be accepting donations under Yvette Pena's name.