Calif. Mom Told Intuition Daughter Had Been Harmed. Now Woman’s Ex Is Convicted of Murdering Her

Aaron Stevan Romo, 37, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2023 killing of his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Mirelle Mateus

Anaheim Police Department/Facebook Mirelle Mateus
Anaheim Police Department/Facebook Mirelle Mateus

A California man has been convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, whose mother suspected her daughter had been harmed and later discovered her dead, authorities said.

On May 29, Aaron Stevan Romo, 37, of Anaheim, was found guilty of the 2023 murder of his ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Mirelle Mateus, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a press release. 

On March 17, 2023, Romo called Mateus, asking him to pick him up after he was badly injured in a fight outside of a bar in the city of Orange, the release states. Mateus, who had a restraining order against Romo which was set to expire in 2025, reportedly picked him up and took him to the Anaheim apartment the couple once shared.

The next day, Mateus’ mother became concerned when she noticed her daughter didn’t return home and she was unable to reach her on her cell phone, the release states.

Related: Calif. Mom Had Bad Feeling Her Daughter Had Been Harmed. She Went to Ex's Home and Found Her Slain

Mateus' mother, Alice Mateus, told ABC7 in 2023 that she had a feeling something bad had happened to her daughter, so she went to the apartment, where she made a horrifying discovery after opening the unlocked front door.

According to the release, Mateus’ mother found her dead in the bathroom. She had been badly beaten and strangled to death.

Shortly after, Romo was arrested at the home of his girlfriend in Riverside, where prosecutors said he “unsuccessfully attempted suicide several times.”

At the time of the killing, Romo was awaiting trial on domestic violence charges stemming from an incident on Dec. 5, 2022 involving Mateus, the district attorney’s office said. Romo was accused of hitting her and throwing her over a patio fence. He was released on bond and was ordered to have no contact with Mateus, per the release.

In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Romo was also convicted of one felony count of domestic battery with corporal injury, and one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud or deceit in connection with the December 2022 incident.

He now faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 24.

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On a GoFundMe campaign created in the wake of her death, Mateus' sister, Sandy Mateus, described her as a “generous person with a heart so pure and full of love.”

"The cycle of domestic violence has tragically claimed the life of another victim who could not escape the deadly hands of her abuser,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in the release.

He continued, “A mother’s last memory of her daughter should not be finding her lifeless body on the floor where she spent the last moments of her life struggling to get away from the man who had repeatedly abused her.”

Spitzer concluded, “He is a master manipulator who repeatedly lured his victim back in only to ruthlessly beat and strangle her until she took her last breath.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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