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PBSO: Daughters feared for lives while mother was killed nearby

August 22, 2016 GMT

Two Lake Worth girls awakened early Saturday morning to thesound of their mother’s screams.

One armed herself with a knife before going into their mother’s bedroom. The other later told Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies she saw their stepfather, Walter Ricardo Lopez Barrios, chase her sister out of the room holding a hammer. She heard their mother begging for her life.

Deputies say Lopez Barrios killed his wife of five years. She died, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said, from “significant blunt trauma to her head.” They found a sledgehammer and bent knife near her lifeless body around 2 a.m. Saturday.

Lopez Barrios, however, wasn’t found for another six hours. Deputies searched by land and air before finding the 37-year-old in a neighborhood east of where he wrecked the family’s red 2008 Toyota Tacoma on Interstate 95 in Boynton Beach. One of his stepdaughters told deputies he fled the home onSouth B Streetin the pickup, which Florida Highway Patrol troops found abandoned around 2:30 a.m.

Lopez Barrios told deputies he remembers an argument with his wife, according to a sheriff’s office report, but doesn’t remember everything after that.

The family of four had been in a dispute, the girls told deputies, because of Lopez Barrios’ uncomfortable behavior toward them. He tried to kiss one of the girls on the lips multiple times, the girl told deputies. So Montoya asked Lopez Barrios to move out, leading to what turned out to be a fatal argument.

Deputies received “multiple calls” around 2 a.m. Saturday about an armed disturbance at the family’s home, just east of Lake Worth High School.

One was from Montoya’s daughter, who told the dispatcher her mother was bleeding. Her stepfather, she said, was running around the home with a kitchen knife.

One daughter fled the home after Lopez Barrios allegedly chased her outside with a hammer. The other hid under a trailer, afraid her stepfather would come for her next, she said.

Lopez Barrios is slated to appear before a Palm Beach County judge again Sept. 19.