The mysterious slaying of a pregnant teenager, whose body was found this week in San Antonio, Texas, has rattled her family who are still reeling from the fatal shooting of another relative last year.
Savanah Soto and her boyfriend were found dead Tuesday in his car, days after they were reported missing. Both had been shot in the head.
Her death marked consecutive years in which a member of her family lost their life to gunfire. Soto’s 15-year-old brother, Ethan Soto, was fatally shot in May 2022.
“It’s been very, very hard,” mother Gloria Cordova said through tears. “They were very close. My son loved her. … My son Ethan and her, my kids come in pairs. And they were the pair.”
Savanah Soto was the only girl in a family of seven brothers. One of those siblings, Jordan Corona, 30, said Friday his loved ones are familiar with the immense pain of losing someone in an alleged murder.
“We just lean on each other for right now,” Corona said. “We are each other’s strength. It’s the same that we did the first time. We definitely learned to lean on each other.”
Ethan Soto was fatally shot following a dispute over money, a sibling told NBC affiliate WOAI of San Antonio. The suspect, who is charged with murder and was 17 when he was arrested, is awaiting trial, according to court records.
Savanah Soto and her boyfriend, Matthew Guerra, 22, were last seen Dec. 22 in the city of Leon Valley. Her family became concerned and reported her missing the next day because her due date had passed and she missed an important medical appointment, officials said.
Both were found dead Tuesday in Guerra’s Kia Optima. They may have been dead for days by the time police found their bodies, said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who called the circumstances of the slayings “very perplexing.”
Detectives are treating the slayings as a capital murder case and police are pleading with the public to help them identify two “persons of interest” seen in a video police released Thursday.
The 79-second video, recorded near where the bodies were found, shows two people get out of vehicles, one of which was in Guerra’s Kia Optima. But the person in the video was not Guerra, police said.
A second person is seen getting out of a dark Chevrolet Silverado. The two people appear to speak to each other before driving off in separate directions, the video shows.
Cordova said Friday she believes the violence was directed at Guerra and that her daughter “was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Corona agreed with his mother. He said Guerra was known to flash money and jewelry in social media posts, and that he may have been targeted.
Guerra’s family did not respond to attempts to reach them for comment.
San Antonio police on Friday declined to provide updates on the case. Attempts to reach a spokesperson to ask additional questions were unsuccessful.
Corona said he will remember his sister as a “beautiful soul” who exuded positive energy and was tough. Soto played basketball with her brothers on a youth team, and as a child, would box with the boys of the family, he said.
He said there will never be justice for his sister.
“A life sentence, that’s not going to make me feel any better. That’s not going to bring my sister back,” Corona said. “It’s not going to take the pain away.”
Cordova said her daughter’s death is also hard to stomach because she was going to be a doting mother. She noted that as a child, Soto would often try to be a mother to her siblings when Cordova was sick or away.
“She wanted to be a mommy,” Cordova said. “She was so excited, I’m talking so excited, to have her baby.”
The unborn boy was going to be named Fabian, she said.
Although Cordova wasn’t thrilled her daughter had been dating Guerra for three years, she said she feels for his family.
“No one deserves to die like that,” Cordova said.
Her daughter’s last moments, and the horror she must have gone through, plays over and over in her head, she said, and it haunts her.
“The way they did that, stays in my head,” Cordova said. “I think about what she was thinking the last moments. Was she calling for me?”
Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.
Toby Lyles and The Associated Press contributed.