The body of a woman killed inside a west Fort Worth motel room will be returning to her hometown for burial after family members learned of her death through media reports.
A friend of Jennifer Diaz had been raising money to give the 43-year-old woman a proper funeral after authorities said they could not find Diaz’s family.
Rebecca Shingledecker told the Star-Telegram Tuesday that she had met Diaz, a drug addict with multiple convictions for prostitution, four or five years ago while mentoring and volunteering for programs aimed at helping woman address underlying issues in their lives.
Diaz went back to the streets and, on June 18, was found fatally stabbed and bludgeoned inside the Golden Gate Motel in the 7500 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard West. Salomon Sandoval Marquez, 19, was arrested and remains in the Tarrant County Jail, charged with murder.
Because authorities could not find family members of Diaz, Shingledecker was working with Mansfield Funeral Home, which had recently offered through its Facebook page to donate basic service charges and a casket to assist families affected by senseless acts of violence in the Metroplex.
“She wasn’t treated with dignity in this life and she mattered to me. She mattered, and I want her to know and the world to know,” Shingledecker told the Star-Telegram.
Christie Moore, the funeral home owner, said she was contacted Tuesday evening by family members of Diaz, who had been alerted to Diaz’s death by someone who had seen media reports about the murder.
“When they called me the first time, they weren’t even sure if it was really her or not,” Moore said.
Moore said the family is now working with a funeral home in Snyder to have Diaz’s body brought back Thursday to their hometown of Colorado City.
“We’re so glad everything worked out,” Moore said.
Addie Gedea, a family friend who grew up with Diaz, said the family had known Diaz was living in Fort Worth but had no clue she had been murdered.
“They tried to get her to move back home and straighten out. That’s just the life she chose,” Gedea said.
Gedea said she and Diaz’s aunt were comforted in knowing that others were working to ensure Diaz didn’t end up in a pauper’s grave.
“My thinking was to bring her home. She lost a brother in prison. He was buried in just a plot. They couldn’t bring him home. Nobody knew what to do. They’ve been through a lot.”
Gedea said Jennifer will now be buried among other family members, including her grandparents.
Shingledecker said she plans to continue to raise money for a memorial bench in Diaz’s honor. In addition, a memorial service is being held Friday for Diaz at the South Side City Church.
“My whole goal was to honor her in death,” Shingledecker said. “I loved her. I still love her now.”