A dessert shop in Oceanside held a fundraiser Friday night to help with funeral expenses for Melissa Contreras, an Oceanside mother of three, who prosecutors say was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend.
DisFruta is donating a sizable percentage of its sale proceeds to Contreras’ family. It’s the first of several fundraisers in the works.
Friends and family of the victim packed the parlor on Friday night, keeping brave faces while their heartbreak heals.
They’re hoping to raise as much money as they can for the future of Contreras’ three children, who, with their mother dead and father facing a possible life sentence, are left to be raised by their grandparents.
Prosecutors say her 2-year-old son was in the car where police say Contreras was strangled to death.
“I just hope when he grows up he won't remember this,” Contreras’ cousin Jessica Contreras said.
Investigators say her boyfriend Uriel Leon, killed Melissa Monday when she returned to his parents’ house to pick up the couple's two boys.
"It’s going to be really hard for them to grow up knowing that their mom is not there for them anymore. The same with their dad. I don't know when they grow up how they are going to take this,” Jessica Contreras said.
The tragedy has drawn the sympathies and support of lifelong friends. Carolina Aquino was enrolled in the Ocean Shores High School teen pregnancy program with Contreras.
“It was a toxic relationship, between them two. They would fight a lot. They would argue a lot but in the end they were together” Aquino said.
Magna Ruiz was in the class behind Contreras. Her parents own and operate DisFruta. It was her idea to donate 20 percent of the night’s proceeds to help Melissa’s family with funeral expenses.
"I hope from this point on they get help from everyone. From family, from everyone,” Ruiz said.
Fundraisers mourn the loss, condemn the killing while still keeping the focus on the futures of three small children hanging in the balance.
DisFruta is planning another fundraiser here Sunday, and working on getting a city permit for a day to wash cars here in the parking lot to raise more money.