A woman whose body was found in a shallow grave at a Glen Ellyn park last weekend was in an abusive relationship with a man accused of stabbing her 34 times, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Myron Ester, 45, was ordered held without bail, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Linda Valez.
The victim's mother started crying at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton as Assistant State's Attorney Tim Diamond detailed the slaying and the events leading up to it for Judge Robert Kleeman.
"I never knew he was beating her," Gloria Araujo said after the hearing. "She never told us."
"It is a brutal, heinous case," State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "It's clear the defendant's actions were personal."
Ester and Valez, who were both homeless, had been in a relationship for about six months, according to Araujo. Valez, 33, the mother of seven children who were no longer in her custody, had a history of mental illness, her mother said, and chose life on the street despite offers that she live with family. Araujo said Ester and Valez both used the services of a Wheaton-based homeless shelter.
Prosecutors said Ester has about 50 arrests. Cook County court records show convictions for domestic battery, obstructing justice and drug crimes. He was scheduled to appear in DuPage court Oct. 8 on a public intoxication charge out of Glen Ellyn.
Diamond alleged that Ester killed Valez the night of Sept. 24 before burying her in Panfish Park. Police searching the park Saturday found blood drops and signs that the ground in a nearby clearing had been disturbed. It was at that location that Valez's body was found buried, Diamond said.
Video footage from a nearby McDonald's where Valez worked showed her and Ester leaving the restaurant Sept. 24. Several hours later, about 2 a.m., Ester walked into a Glen Ellyn Fire Department station seeking treatment for a wound on his hand. He was taken to a hospital and the hand was stitched, Diamond said.
After police found Valez's body, they were able to track Ester to the home of a friend in Naperville, where he was hiding in a basement. He told authorities that he and Valez had argued at the park and that she pulled a knife on him. Ester said he "blacked out" and did not remember anything else, Diamond said.
Friends of the pair told police that Ester often beat Valez, prosecutors said, and that Valez had made attempts to end their relationship. But witnesses told police that Ester had threatened her, Diamond said.
"He said if he could not have her, no one would," Diamond said.
Araujo said she offered to let her daughter live in her Wheaton apartment, but Valez had become enamored with a group of homeless people she met. Valez's children range in age from 2 to 13. Araujo cares for three of them, she said. The other four are in foster homes.
Although Valez declined her mother's offer of a regular roof over her head, Araujo said she and her daughter remained in almost daily contact. Araujo said her daughter often brought her homeless friends to the apartment for a meal.
"She always looked out for them," Araujo said.
Tribune reporter Rosemary Regina Sobol contributed.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun