Accompanied by family members in tears, the nephew of a San Diego woman allegedly slain by her co-worker saw the accused killer in court Wednesday and felt deep sadness for the loss of his aunt, saying her infectious laughter is now gone forever.
“She was always smiling. She has this unique laugh that nobody else has and now – now it’s gone,” Ryan Alacon told NBC 7, referring to his late aunt, Raquel Morales, 63.
“My aunt was a very loving, caring and sweet person. Just to go through this is very hard for our family. My aunt was the sweetest person. She was a wife, she was a mother, she was a sister and she was a daughter. For anybody to take her away from us and not allow her to live is just…” he added.
Morales was found dead inside the LBC Express business in Mira Mesa around 2 a.m. on May 18. She was an employee at the 24-hour air cargo delivery service and when she failed to come home from work that night, her husband called police to check on her.
When officers arrived, they found Morales dead in the store, with obvious signs of trauma to her body.
Police immediately began investigating her death as a murder and a few days later, Morales’ co-worker, Leopoldo Pacuan, 49, was arrested in connection with the killing.
According to investigators, Pacuan may have been motivated by robbery and allegedly killed Morales after stealing her purse and several pieces of jewelry from her, including a watch, bracelet and ring. He didn’t take anything of value from the business, investigators told NBC 7 last week.
Investigators believe the pair knew one another from work, but didn’t have a close friendship. Pacuan, employed as a courier driver, was on leave from work at the time of the murder.
Alacon said his family was not aware of how much his aunt and Pacuan had interacted at work.
Pacuan’s arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed until Friday because Pacuan’s attorney said the defendant would have a better understanding of proceedings with an interpreter by his side translating in Tagalog, his native language.
Putting the arraignment off another two days was difficult for the victim’s family, however, because they just want swift justice.
Alacon said he hopes Pacuan is sent to prison if he’s found guilty.
“We have full faith in the legal system and we know that whoever did this – group, individual – we have full faith in the legal system that they will prosecute and whoever did it will suffer,” he said.
Alacon said that seeing his aunt’s accused killer for the first time was extremely difficult and he felt many emotions at once, including sadness and anger.
In the meantime, he said Morales’ family, including her grief-stricken husband, are doing their best to cope with the tragic and sudden loss, taking it “day by day.” Alacon said many family members have flown into San Diego to support one another during this difficult time.
He said he’ll forever miss his aunt’s sweet smile.
“Anyone that was lucky enough to meet her can attest that she was an awesome person,” he added.
Meanwhile, LBC Express, which services the Philippines, has released a statement on the passing of Morales, someone the company referred to as a “family member.”
The company said Morales had been working for LBC since 2003 and “was loved by our customers because of her loving and caring attitude.” The statement also said the company is cooperating with authorities on the investigation.
“While the Filipino community in America is large, we are a tight bunch so we feel the pain of every Kababayan,” the statement reads. “Raquel will always be remembered.”