Yuma: homicide victim’s family speaks out

YUMA, Ariz. – In a chilling incident, police say a Yuma woman was stabbed to death by her own husband. Today their children are speaking out for the first time.

“She was a very loving person. She was always very helpful. Her laugh is very unforgettable,” said Sayona Ortega, Lanika Ortega’s 17-year-old daughter as she remembered the good times she had with her mother.

According to Lanika Ortega’s children, two years ago Lanika left the east coast and moved to Yuma with her two youngest. The 36-year-old had her master’s degree and a dream job opportunity in her field of expertise in social work come up in Yuma.

Then, about nine months ago, Ortega and her estranged husband, 37-year-old Roberto Ortega, decided to work things out and he moved in. Sayona says things were good at first, but she knew her parents had started fighting again.

“My mom was one of those types of people where if she thought it was really grown up business, she wouldn’t have concerned me with it. She wouldn’t have said anything to me,” said Sayona.

On August 27th, Lanika and Roberto were home alone when police say several 9-1-1 calls came in of a domestic violence dispute at their home. When police arrived, they say they found Lanika lying on her driveway bleeding to death after being stabbed. Her husband then ran out of the home and attacked police. Tonight, the Ortega children are trying to make sense of their father’s actions.

“I would ask him why he wasn’t thinking about me or my brother because we are still here and she’s not,” said Sayona Ortega

The couple’s oldest daughter, Quadrenna Ortega lives in North Carolina. Quadrenna says her parents had been married for over 20 years but their father had always struggled, at times abusive towards their mother and addicted to drugs; but she wants people to know about the life her mother lived.

“There is nobody that could not like my mom. She just got along with everybody. I don’t want people to remember her like that, she devoted her whole life to social work. She had a career of helping people in need,” said 21-year-old Quadrenna Ortega.

Quadrenna says the hardest part is the fact that her mom’s life was cut short.

“I want people to know that her life was just cut short for jealousy. I want people to know that you don’t need to lower your standards for men or anybody else. If you’re too good for them and they are toxic to you, you can always leave them,” Quadrenna said.

For now the Ortega children say they want to focus on their mother’s goodness and emulate her strength.

“I’m sorry this all had to happen but God makes no mistakes; and even though I don’t know the reason she was called home, she was called home for a reason,” said Sayona Ortega.

The Ortega children say they are grateful for the outpouring of love the Yuma community has shown them in this difficult time. A Go-fund-me account has been set up to help cover funeral and flight expenses at gofundme.com/2mn7e277.

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