In a tragic case of a murder-suicide by way of domestic abuse, 23-year-old Stephanie García was killed by her boyfriend Ardel Julius Couch, 26, who later shot himself to death. The couple lived together in a house in Converse, Texas, and while García had presented signs of abuse in the past, the family never thought it could lead to her being killed.

García’s grandmother María de Jesús Gaytán explained to Noticias Telemundo that García and Couch had been together for four years. The family noticed signs of abuse in the past, and when asked why she remained in the relationship, García would say she “loved him.” Couch had broken García’s cell phone several times, and the woman was sometimes seen with marks on her body. 

Couch’s abuse unfortunately culminated on April 6 at around midnight, when García called her mother saying, “mom, help me, he just shot me.” The 23-year-old woman reportedly tried calming her mother down, but said she was scared she would bleed to death from her leg. Couch then got on the phone line and said “now I’m going to kill her.” 

The family rushed to the couple’s house, finding that the police had already arrived because García called 911 at 1:15 a.m. Bexar sheriff Javier Salazar told KSAT, “[Dispatch] called back, a male answered and verified that he indeed shot a female within the residence and that his intent was to shoot her again and then kill himself.” They tried to convince Couch not to shoot, but he hung up.

Converse police heard two gunshots when they arrived, finding Couch dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and García with two shots in the lower part of her body. García was taken in a stretcher to the hospital in critical condition, where she died from the wounds. 

García’s grandmother told Telemundo, “he really hurt her. She was very beaten, had many injuries, gunshots in her arms, feet, and in her stomach.” Gaytán said the family is devastated, saying Couch is “un maldito” and “un perro,” describing: “he left her very beaten.”

Still, they wanted to share her story in the hopes it can help someone else dealing with domestic abuse.