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Ganado man charged with killing girlfriend with vehicle

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 12, 2013 at 6:12 a.m.
Updated Dec. 13, 2013 at 6:13 a.m.

Abigail Zapata, 25, is shown with her two sons, Carter Vasquez, 10 months; and Levi Trevino, 4. The photo was taken at Thanksgiving.

To get help

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, find help at Texas Council on Family Violence by calling 512-794-1133 or visiting tcfv.org. Mid-Coast Family Services in Victoria also offers help at 361-575-7842 or visiting midcoastfamily.org.

When Angelica Garza wakes up Friday morning, a text from her sister, Abigail, will not appear on her phone.

Garza looks forward to those early-morning messages from Abigail Zapata and seeing the name "Sissie" pop up on the home screen.

"I keep waiting for her to call or text," said Garza, 26, of Edna. "I don't think it's hit me yet."

Zapata, 25, who was living in Ganado with her boyfriend, Robert Vasquez, 27, was discovered in a ditch Wednesday morning on state Highway 71 one mile south of Farm-to-Market Road 2674 near El Campo.

She was found shortly after Vasquez phoned the Wharton County Sheriff's Office about 7 a.m. to report his girlfriend was dead in a ditch, said Wharton County Sheriff's Office Lt. Raymond Jansky.

Vasquez, who is also the father of Zapata's 10-month-old son, Carter, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder after an investigation determined he was driving the 2007 Cadillac that struck Zapata, Jansky said.

"It was obvious that it was an auto-pedestrian incident, but his story did not make sense with the evidence," he said.

Vasquez is in the Wharton County jail. His bond amount is set at $1 million.

In the past, Zapata had encountered domestic violence at the hands of another boyfriend.

Teresa Reyes, of the Victoria County Criminal District Attorney's Office, said she prosecuted Christopher Countryman, 31, in 2012 on charges of assault on a family or household member. Zapata, who was living in Victoria at the time of the trial, was the witness and victim in the case, Reyes said.

Other than with her sister, Zapata didn't interact much with family. And when she did, family members said, she didn't bring Vasquez around too often.

"Her mother had only met him twice. I don't know if Robert tried to keep her from family," said Debra Pena, a close friend of Zapata's mother, Esther Garza. "The family didn't think he was right for Abby."

Pena said the few times Robert did come around family and friends, most characterized him as aggressive and controlling toward Zapata.

"She was a sweet girl. She didn't curse; she was very religious. She was always in church," Pena said, mentioning she has known Zapata since Zapata was a girl. "I'm so pissed off about this. I don't ever want to meet the guy; I would spit in his face."

Pena said she visited Esther Garza at Garza's home Wednesday evening, where many friends were gathered to pay their respects.

"You'd think the family would be angry. But not them. They're so religious and forgiving," she said. "Esther was still in shock, but had it not been for having God in their lives and all the friends, the family probably wouldn't be as strong as they are."

Angelica Garza said she wasn't prepared to hear the news about her sister and was shocked to learn Vasquez was the suspect.

"That was something I never really wanted to hear. I went speechless. I didn't think I'd lose my sister that fast or soon or in that manner," Garza said, mentioning her sister had recently visited her home in Edna and that they had spent time together hanging out on the couch. "It's difficult to deal with, especially right before Christmas."

Pena said the family is struggling to understand why something like this would happen to Zapata, but she said it's a cautionary tale for women in relationships with controlling or abusive men.

"We ladies - when we're young, we don't listen to anyone telling us anything about the men we like," she said. "This is such an awful thing. ... It's too late now."

Angelica Garza's sister will be remembered as a caring friend and mother to her two sons, Carter and 4-year-old Levi Trevino.

"She just wanted them to grow up to be well-mannered and polite. She wanted the best for them," Garza said. "She was an amazing person with a great personality. And she was funny."

She also said Zapata's nieces, Jazlynn, 7, and Isabella, 5, will miss their aunt painting their nails and spending time with them.

"It's hard to comprehend how this all went down. I don't think it will sink in until it's all said and done," Garza said. "We're just taking it one day at a time."

Funeral services are pending with Oaklawn Funeral Home in Edna.

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