It was just before 2 a.m. Saturday when a distraught young boy sprinted down Sojourner Street in eastern Travis County, knocked on Carvelia Larroy’s door and told her that his stepfather was stabbing his mother.
“He ran up to us, and he was full of blood,” Larroy said, “and then his little brother came up to us, and his phone was full of blood, and he said, ‘He’s still stabbing my mom; please help her.’ ”
The boys’ mother, Emily Martinez Villarreal, 36, died later that night on her bedroom floor as Travis County sheriff’s deputies tried to resuscitate her, according to an arrest affidavit filed against the boys’ stepfather, 51-year-old Robert Degollado, who has been charged with murder.
Villarreal had been stabbed 18 times in the chest and arms, the affidavit said, and a steak knife was found on a bedside table.
According to the affidavit, deputies responded to the home in the Hornsby Bend neighborhood after one of the sons frantically called 911 around 1:45 a.m. to tell authorities that his stepfather was stabbing his mother, the affidavit said.
The boy at one point pleaded, “Robert, I love you; please stop” just before the call disconnected, according to the affidavit. The boy then ran to a neighbor’s house to ask for help, and the neighbor called authorities.
Degollado was still in the residence and covered in blood when deputies arrived, the affidavit said. Deputies said Degollado responded to every question with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”
One of Villarreal’s sons told investigators that his mother and Degollado started talking when his mother returned home around 1 a.m. after going out with a friend. She told Degollado that she did not care for him anymore and was “going to find a new man,” the boy said. Degollado believed she was cheating on him, Villarreal’s son told deputies.
A son also told deputies that he saw Degollado get a knife from the kitchen before lying down next to his mother. Later, he heard his mother scream “stop” and entered the bedroom to see Degollado stabbing his mother, according to the affidavit.
Larroy said no one in her family has gotten much sleep since the incident. One of Villarreal’s sons was her son’s best friend. The boy and Larroy’s 12-year-old son, Nicholai Reyes, played football together, and Villarreal’s sons would often stay at Larroy’s house after school until their mother got home from work, she said.
Degollado “never let her go out much; she had kind of a sheltered life,” Larroy said. “They were kind of like roommates; they weren’t even together anymore.”
Nicholai’s mother said her son was worried he wouldn’t get to see his friend again.
On Sunday, Nicholai and other neighborhood kids went to the house to look at the sympathy candles and balloons that had been placed on the porch.
“It was strange because it felt like (Degollado) would never try to talk to us,” Nicholai said. “He was always quiet, in his garage listening to music or drinking beer. (Villarreal’s sons) were scared to go home; they’d only go home with their mom. … I think the little brother is going to be hit the worst. He was always with his mom.”
Degollado remained in the Travis County Jail on Sunday with bail set at $500,000.
Three of the most recent homicide cases investigated by the Travis County sheriff’s office also appear to involve family members or people living in the same home.
• Last summer, 60-year-old Steven Nurse was found dead in his home in late July. Within days, Nurse’s 24-year-old son, Skye McMillon, was charged with murder.
• Then in December, authorities said evidence suggested that 42-year-old Yariv Kaplan shot his 9-year-old daughter, Lielle, before turning the gun on himself in their southwestern Travis County home.
• A few weeks later, on Dec. 31, authorities said 48-year-old Charity Sunshine Ellis confessed to fatally shooting her fiancé at her western Travis County home after an argument over an unpaid utility bill. The death was the county’s 12th and last homicide case of 2017, the sheriff’s office said.