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St. Paul Art Teacher's Family Urges Closer Look at Her Abrupt Death

January 17, 2017 06:20 AM

Loved ones of 47-year-old Elisa Ann Gomez made a plea to police to take a closer look at her unforeseen death.

The mother of two children, art teacher and animal rights advocate was found with a scarf around her neck in her home on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis last October.  

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Initially, police considered it a possible suicide. But her family insists there's more to it and three months after abruptly saying goodbye to Gomez, her dad, Richard, admits, "We have a lot of questions that aren't being answered."

Gomez's mom, Judy Hunt, still struggles for words to describe her loss.

"She would not leave the world like that, she just wouldn't," Hunt said.

The Gomez family sat in a room with reminders of Elisa everywhere. She painted artwork on the walls. Gomez was an art teacher at Sejong Academy, an animal rescue advocate, mother and, only hours before her death, she also became a wife.  

Her relatives say they never met Gomez's new husband. In fact, she'd only known him for a month.

"I believe he played a role in her death," Hunt said.

After the sudden wedding ceremony, the couple celebrated at a local bar. The party continued back at Gomez's place. But in the middle of the night, neighbor John Ganapes became concerned enough about some commotion outside his window and so he called police.

"The woman sounded very distraught; it was 2 or 3 in the morning," Ganapes said.

Another 911 call brought officers back. Gomez was dead.  

The initial report refers to a possible suicide. What's more, an autopsy revealed she died by ligature hanging.  

However, the medical examiner couldn't determine whether her death was a homicide, suicide or accident.  

Gomez's sister, Angela, said she feels like the death investigation fell short.

"I don't believe they've done their job; they were at her home for an hour, viewed it as a suicide and didn't even lock down the home as a crime scene."

Authorities talked to Gomez's husband. Her family demands that officers do more than that, given his history of violence.  

He's been convicted of domestic abuse/strangulation several times, along with terroristic threats. He's currently in jail on unrelated charges.  

And there's something else her family wants others to know: "He never showed up for the funeral, the grieving husband never showed up for the funeral."

Because the husband hasn't been labeled a person of interest by authorities, his name isn't being released. And, it's not clear a crime has been committed. In a statement, the Minneapolis Police Department said the case remains open and active.

Her family points out when Gomez met her husband, he was homeless and jobless. And in one fateful night, he inherited everything she owned. 

Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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