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Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said a man beat a woman to death with a tire iron at a shopping center near Bethany Home Road and 35th Avenue July 6, 2018.
Angela Forburger, The Republic | azcentral.com

Family and friends of a 26-year-old woman killed outside a Walmart on Saturday remembered her life while struggling to piece together events that led to her death.

“We were like twins; she was always attached to my hip,” said Maiko Parker, the mother of 26-year-old Monique Gemino, who was beaten to death last Saturday morning behind the store where she worked in Phoenix. 

“We loved the ‘Gilmore Girls.’ It was always she and I, and she was always the smart one,” said Parker, her voice trembling as she spoke.

RELATED: Police ID woman beaten to death with tire iron outside Walmart

Luis Madrigal, 27, Gemino’s ex-boyfriend, was arrested Saturday and is accused of killing Gemino behind the store at 35th Avenue and Bethany Home Road, beating her with a tire iron, according to Maricopa County court records.

Parker said she spoke to her daughter the day before she was killed. “We were joking around,” Parker said.

“This just seems to be so senseless. It seems like it could have been prevented.”

Phoenix police were called to the store and arrived at 8:32 a.m. to find Madrigal near Gemino’s body with a bloodied tire iron in his hand, court records say.

Police used a stun gun after he refused multiple orders to drop the tire iron, court records say.

A dissolving relationship

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Luis Madrigal appears in Maricopa County Superior Court on July 8, 2018.
Bree Burkitt, The Republic | azcentral.com

Madrigal and Gemino were in an on-and-off relationship for 13 years and had a 5-year-old son together, according to Parker.

Hailey Ewing, 19, a close friend and co-worker of Gemino, told The Arizona Republic that Madrigal lived with Gemino and initiated a gradual breakup several weeks before her death.

After his arrest, Madrigal told Phoenix police that the relationship began to deteriorate about six weeks before when he suspected she was cheating on him, according to court documents.

RELATED: Man says affair sparked fatal tire-iron attack

Gemino’s family and friends rejected the notion of an affair.

Text messages moments before death

Shannon Hall, 41, who is Ewing’s mother and Gemino’s co-worker, provided copies of texts to The Republic on Wednesday that showed messages Gemino sent to Ewing and another female co-worker moments before Gemino was killed. 

Gemino texted Ewing and the co-worker in a group chat while they were working at 8:10 a.m. She said Madrigal had arrived to get his belongings from her car and looked messed up.

At 8:12 a.m., Gemino sent another text, her last, stating: “He scared tf outta me. Didn’t call or anything. He’s … bleeding bc he punched someone’s car window.”

The other woman responded immediately, “OK, be safe call if anything.” 

At 8:32 a.m., police responded to a call about a fight outside of Walmart. Officers found Gemino lying on the ground with head trauma, court records say. Phoenix Fire Department paramedics pronounced Gemino dead at the scene.

Still unaware of the attack, the co-workers continued to text Gemino. At 8:55 a.m., “Is everything going okay Mo,”the other woman wrote.  

Ewing and the other woman went outside about 9:30 a.m., after learning of police activity and became increasingly worried that something had happened to Gemino.

“Monique, we’re worried about you,” Ewing texted at 9:41 a.m.

Soon after, they learned while talking to their manager what had happened, Ewing said.

Strange behavior weeks before death

Hall, who described herself as “Monique’s work mom,” said Gemino told her that Madrigal had removed all of his belongings from the room he shared with Gemino and placed them in their son’s room several weeks before. 

Ewing said Gemino told her that Madrigal was becoming “controlling.”

As the gradual breakup continued, Hall said Gemino “had to get her own checking account, her own insurance.” He took her name off the title of the vehicle they both owned and he gave her their other car, which wasn’t as good, Hall said.

Parker said she also realized Madrigal was changing.

“Things were not right; my daughter did not want to say anything to anyone because she wanted there to be peace because there is a child involved,” she said. 

Their son had been left with Madrigal’s family before the killing, and he has remained there since Saturday, Parker said.

“I do have a good rapport with his family,” Parker said. “I want to make sure I get my grandson back and that everyone is peaceful.”

A previous murder in Madrigal’s family

An incident that occurred nearly 10 years ago suggests Madrigal had been exposed to domestic violence when he was younger.

In 2009, Madrigal’s father, Primitivo Madrigal Almonte, fatally shot his wife and Madrigal’s mother, Florinda Almonte, at their residence near 43rd Avenue and Van Buren Street, according to Maryvale Justice Court records.

Almonte was classified as “mentally disturbed” with a “prior history of domestic violence,” according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty in 2011 to manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison, according to Arizona Department of Corrections and court records.

Hall said Madrigal “didn’t get the help that he needed” after his mother’s murder.

Family raising money for funeral costs

Gemino’s family started a GoFundMe account for her funeral costs and have raised nearly $2,500 of the $5,000 goal.

The family will hold a car-wash fundraiser Saturday at 8 a.m. at the corner of 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

“The world’s lost a beautiful, happy person,” Parker said.

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Melissa Brockie, director of New Day Centers at UMOM in Phoenix, Ariz., details domestic violence or interpersonal violence. She explains its warning signs and resources available to victims. Nick Serpa/azcentral

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