CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A family member is speaking out days after her aunt’s murder in Berkeley County. Jessica Lopez, Maria Chavarria’s niece believes Chavarria’s murder had been planned.
Jessica, said there had been multiple instances where they saw her husband, Salin Hernandez, be physically abusive. Jessica also says her aunt had secretly been filing for divorce.
“I remember I was on the floor and my dad hugged me tight and I wanted to cry but I was like this can’t be happening it can not be her out of all people who would want to kill her but then it instantly clicked that he was abusive he has slammed her against the floor and chocked her,” said Jessica Lopez, victims niece.
The family says they knew Chavarria was in a physically abusive relationship. Her body was found Tuesday on Brighton Park Boulevard. Deputies say her husband had her pull over and that’s when investigators say Hernandez shot and killed Chavarria. Jessica Lopez says her aunt always stood up for her husband even though he appeared abusive.
“She was texting, and he was right behind her and leaned over here and grabbed the phone and hit her in the face with it like that and my mom got up and was like what is that and it was at a party,” said Lopez, victims niece.
Jessica says she and her sisters headed to her aunt’s house after learning about her death from a friend.
“And her friend was like I’m sorry for your loss and my sisters like what do you mean your loss and she’s like yeah your aunt just got murdered and she’s like what aunt what are you talking about,” said Lopez, victims niece.
Berkeley County Sheriff, Duane Lewis, says deputies pieced together what they believe happened after finding found Chavarria’s car and body.
“Looking at the evidence he followed her to that location she was on the way to work and got her to pull over and that’s when he shot her,” said Duane Lewis, Sherriff for Berkeley County.
Chavarria’s family has started a GoFundMe page to send her body back to Mexico. The money left over will go to her two young children.
“He asked my husband for 9-millimeter bullets and my husband was like no he’s crazy we know it’s crazy to let’s not get involved and then we found out those are the same bullets that killed her, so it was planned it was 3 weeks before she died, he asked so it was defiantly planned not something he did out of anger,” said Lopez, victims niece.
Hernandez is expected back in court in 30 days.