Murder victim’s son captured in Alabama
By DONNA HARRIS - firstname.lastname@example.org
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GULFPORT -- Brad Abeyta said his brother, who is accused of strangling their mother and leaving her body in the woods, is devastated by what he’s done.
A fugitive task force of federal marshals captured 29-year-old Ryan Allen Abeyta about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 9000 block of Moffett Road in Semmes, Ala., Chief Alan Weatherford said. Ryan Abeyta was charged with murder in the death of Pamela Marlene Santiago, 56, in her Harmony Circle home in Gulfport earlier this week. He is in custody in Mobile awaiting extradition to Mississippi.
Santiago’s body was found Tuesday by someone walking on a path in the woods about 50 feet off River Road in an area south of Dedeaux Park in Gulfport.
Gallery:Murder victim’s son captured in Alabama
Brad Abeyta talked to his younger brother by phone Wednesday, shortly after arriving in Gulfport from his home in Colorado Springs. “He is 100 percent devastated. He wants his mother. And we just ask for prayers for him because it’s going to be a hard road to live under that,” he told the Sun Herald.
Brad Abeyta said Ryan had lived with their mother on and off for several years, and has battled drug and alcohol addictions since he was a teen.
The older brother believes mother and son argued and it escalated into a physical confrontation that ended in their mother’s death.
Their father, Ray Abeyta, said fear may have prompted Ryan to leave her body in the woods and run.
“He was scared. He didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“He had lost his mom,” Brad Abeyta said.
The older sibling said his brother wasn’t normally violent.
“Ryan was very faithful to Mom, when Ryan was Ryan. Ryan had the most amazing, loving heart,” he said. “He has a great heart -- when he’s Ryan. He’s battled some addictions and when he’s on that he just changes, like most of them do.”
Abeyta said he will support his brother.
“Am I my brother’s keeper? Absolutely. I already forgive him. And I love him more now than I ever did before. That’s how I see God loving us. There’s no judgment here,” he said.
Santiago was close to completing an online degree in medical management from Phoenix University.
“She was a straight-A student,” her friend Barbara Stipe of Colorado Springs said Wednesday. The two had met in Korea when their husbands were stationed there.
“She was the best friend I ever had,” Stipe said. “She didn’t have an enemy.”
Stipe last talked to Santiago on Sunday. “Everything was fine. She was doing her homework,” she said.
Brad Abeyta said his mother was excited to be in school.
“She wanted to go back and fulfill her dream of graduating and working in that field,” he said.
His mother taught him how to cook, clean and even knit. “She was so talented in everything that she did,” he said. “Everything that she did, she did it to the fullest.”
She was a prayerful Christian as well.
“My mom was a person that really helped me to understand the unconditional love God has for us,” he said. “She was always so supportive and always had a smile. She was always willing to help anybody.”
Brad Abeyta said this tragedy has brought his family together. “The glory of God will shine in any crisis,” he said. “I believe there will be a lot of restoration in the family. This will bring us stronger and closer together. And we will survive
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