Roommate charged in death of 20-year-old Raleigh student found in apartment

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Roommate charged in death of 20-year-old Raleigh student found in apartment
Christina Matos' family says the 20-year-old charged in the case was not only a roommate but a friend at her Hillsborough Street apartment.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A 20-year-old man has been charged with murder in the death of a Raleigh student who was reported missing earlier this week.

Raleigh police said Eric Gael Hernandez-Mendez, 20, has been charged in the murder of Christina Matos.

Erick Gael Hernandez-Mendez
Raleigh Police Department

At Matos' family home in Clayton, her grieving loved ones said the murder suspect was the young woman's roommate at the Signature Apartments. The family says they didn't know Hernandez-Mendez well, but they remember meeting him briefly when he helped Matos move out her parents' home.

"This is the roommate. He lived in the apartment," said Norma Matos. "Why?! Why?! When you live with your roommate, it's your friend! You live with your friend. Study with your friend! Speak with your friend! Why?! Why?!"

The family was making funeral arrangements when news broke of the arrest. With tears in his eyes, Matos' father, Gerardo, said he believes is talking to the family from beyond.

"She's saying, 'Justice for me,' Matos said. "She's saying that."

Hernandez-Mendez is being held in the Wake Detention Center with no bond. He's scheduled to make his first appearance before a Wake district judge on Thursday afternoon.

Body of 20-year-old woman found less than a mile from NC State in Raleigh; Death investigated as homicide

In Clayton, a mother and father are grieving and desperate for answers after their daughter was found killed inside her Raleigh apartment.

On Sunday, a 911 caller reported their daughter, 20-year-old Christina Matos missing.

She was last seen alive on her birthday. She spent Friday night out celebrating with friends.

"I feel like it's a dream," her friend Camila Romero, who saw her just before she disappeared, said. "It hits harder when it's somebody that you're closer to, that you know of, that all she was doing was just working. If you meet her family, they've just been hard workers. They're immigrants, you know. We come here for a reason, to actually work."

She made it home to her apartment on the second floor of Signature 1505 on Hillsborough Street near NC State, but that was the last time anyone saw her alive.

Matos' mother and father said The Signature was Christina's first apartment. She shared it with roommates while she worked and took radiology courses at Wake Technical Community College.

The joyful, former athlete at Clayton High School had plenty of friends -- but when Raleigh police detectives called her parents, investigators began asking who might want to hurt her.

"(The detective) came back and said, 'Let me tell you something.' I asked if they found Christina. And he said, 'Yeah we found her.' And I was excited and where she was. And he said, 'I'm sorry guys, we found Christina in her room and she's deceased," Yolanda Matos recalled tearfully. "Everything is coming down in my life."

RPD discovered the body inside of her locked bedroom, only hours after her mother and brother had gone to check on her. Her mother had a key to get inside the apartment. But couldn't open Christina's locked bedroom door.

"I want to scream! I want to yell. I want to yell, 'Why?' Christina, why to us?" Yolanda Matos said. "We need justice. We need justice for Christina."

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