Night out in Fort Worth has a tragic ending

Posted Thursday, May. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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After an outing at the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival and a downtown restaurant, Melissa Soto was ready to call it a night, but her identical twin, Monica “Moni” Soto, decided to stay behind and hang out with friends.

When Monica Soto wasn’t home by 3 a.m. April 22, her concerned mother called her cellphone to check on her.

“She said, ‘I’m at IHOP mom.’ She said, ‘I’m eating. I’m OK,’” recounted the oldest of Soto’s sisters, Tiffany Martinez.

It was the last time any family member would hear the voice of Monica Soto, 24.

Several hours later, Melissa Soto logged on to Facebook to find that someone had posted on her sister’s page, “RIP Moni.”

“My sister Melissa was like ‘Mom, they’re saying RIP! What are they talking about!’” Martinez said. “They tried calling my sister. She never came home that night. She never showed up.”

On hearing word of a shooting, the family rushed to the 3800 block of Terry Street to find police on the scene and a maroon car belonging to Soto’s friend being towed away. Eventually, police led Soto’s mother away so that they could talk to her separately.

“When they took my mother to the car, we knew because my mother just started screaming and crying,” Martinez said.

On Thursday, Gilbert Collins, 32, and his girlfriend, Lisa Ann Rasberry, 27, were formally charged with murder in the case.

Police said the suspects had been riding in a car with Soto, her friend, and another man shortly before 5:30 a.m. April 22, when they suddenly attacked the three — shooting Soto and Alberto Gonzalez, 23, and assaulting the driver, Payton Neria, 24.

Gonzalez remains hospitalized. Neria was treated and released.

Collins and Rasberry have also been charged with five aggravated robberies stemming from a game room robbery two days before the slaying. They remained in the Mansfield Jail on Thursday.

Attack came ‘out of nowhere’

Martinez said she believes that her sister just met the two suspects shortly before the slayings. She said the suspects were apparently acquaintances of Gonzalez’s and had just been picked up before the attacks.

“Our sister was at the wrong place, at the wrong time,” Martinez said. “She was giving a close friend’s boyfriend a ride home. Our sister was not a bad person.”

Martinez said Neria told the family that the group was traveling down the road when the attack came “out of nowhere” and the suspects began screaming at her to pull over.

“They just started Tasering and hitting her [Neria] in the head with the gun,” Martinez said. “She doesn’t remember them shooting. They just did it out of nowhere for no apparent reason.

“She remembers the last thing my sister was doing was dancing and listening to music when that all happened in the car,” Martinez added.

Martinez said that when emergency workers arrived, they found her sister sitting bent over outside a house.

“She just kept telling them: ‘Chuckie did this. Chuckie did this to me,’” Martinez said, adding that Chuckie is Collins’ nickname. “... She didn’t say why. She just kept saying, ‘Chuckie shot me. He did this.’”

She died en route to the hospital, Martinez said.

Though police initially said they believed the slaying involved a robbery, officials said Wednesday that investigators were still trying to determine the motive.

Martinez said that to her knowledge, nothing was taken from her sister or the other victims.

“They have no idea what they took from us,” Martinez said. “We just don’t understand why. Why they would do something like this.”

A young son left behind

Martinez said family and friends are still reeling from the shock of Soto’s death.

She left behind a 5-year-old son, Jasiah Rangel.

“Everyone knew our sister,” Martinez said. “She was loved by many, always being happy, outgoing, funny. She was always joking around. She was just full of life and her No. 1 priority was taking care of her son.”

Jasiah will now be raised by his grandmother.

“We had to sit him down that day and talk to him,” Martinez said. “We didn’t tell him that she was murdered. We just said that she was sick and had to go to heaven. We told him that she went to heaven with her father, his granddaddy.”

Martinez said her sister was buried atop the grave of her father, who died in 1998.

“The other day we went to the cemetery,” Martinez said. “We would always go decorate his plot. All four sisters would go out there and talk to him. Now it’s three sisters and now we go out there to see my sister and my dad. It’s so much to take. It’s hard, so hard.”

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655 Twitter: @deannaboyd

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