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Slain Salem woman had obtained restraining order

By LAUREN E. HERNANDEZ
Of the Statesman Journal

SALEM — She covered the bruises with makeup, but the black and blue marks still peeked through the concealer.

She confided in some friends, and kept quiet to others. When she finally requested a restraining order to end the abuse in June, she told friends she thought she was free — and she was.

For three months.

On Sept. 19, Lucia Pamatz, 20, of Salem was shot to death in her home. Her former boyfriend, Cristian Acosta, has been charged with her murder.

To friends of Acosta, who frequented car club meet-ups for Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution owners in Salem, Acosta and Pamatz seemed happy. They would stick around after meetups to joke and laugh while sharing burgers, fries and milkshakes from Sonic. Acosta would pay for Pamatz's meal, then hop back in his Lancer to cruise the streets, according to a friend of Acosta.

Pamatz's friends told a different story.

Sherie Meithof Helms attended the same car club meetups. She met Acosta more than 18 months ago, before Acosta and Pamatz were an item.

“He was always asking to drive my car, he wanted to buy my car,” Meithof Helms said of her 2008 Wicked White Mitshubishi Lancer Evolution.

But Meithof Helms said she kept her distance from Acosta, citing his controlling vibe as a turnoff, and instead developed a friendship with Pamatz, the quiet counterpart to Acosta.

“You could tell when we were at the car club meets, she would seem different,” Meithof Helms said. “She would seem to tense up when he was around. When we would hang back and talk, he would look at us to see who she's talking to.”

She observed Acosta's behavior during the couple's one-year relationship, but it wasn't until May of this year Pamatz told Meithof Helms of her fears for her safety.

“She would tell me on multiple occasions that she was scared of him and that he beat her,” Meithof Helms said. “She was afraid of calling the police because he threatened to kill her family.”

The cycle of abuse

Pamatz told authorities Acosta texted a threat to her on May 27 of this year:

“His words were, ‘I don't care if your family suffers, I just want you gone,’ ” Pamatz wrote on a restraining order petition filed with the Marion County Circuit Court. When Pamatz received the text messages, she was out with a friend and ignored many of the phone calls leading up to the threatening message, according to the petition.

“The second time he called I answered, but he was only trying to figure out where I was and who I was with,” Pamatz wrote in the restraining order petition. “I hung up and tried to ignore him but he still kept calling.”

The next morning, May 28, Acosta barraged Pamatz's phone with text messages and phone calls, begging to meet with her.

“I was hesitant because he was upset, but he told me if I didn't, he was going to hurt me,” Pamatz wrote. "As I got to his house, I had my friend on the line recording in case anything happened.

“When he got in my car Cristian was calm and told me to go park somewhere else,” Pamatz wrote. “I wanted to park out in the open, (but) Cristian insisted I park behind a building.”

She drove the car and tried to tell Acosta she wanted to stay in a public area because she was afraid “of what he was going to do,” but Acosta started jerking the steering wheel.

Pamatz came to a stop and Acosta began accusing her of going out the night before with other men.

“Cristian then grabbed me by the wrist and started to pull my hair,” Pamatz wrote.

Acosta ordered Pamatz to switch seats so he could drive, but Pamatz drove immediately to his residence without stopping the vehicle out of fear, according to her petition.

“When we got there, Cristian grabbed me by the face, ripped my shirt and I just blacked out,” Pamatz wrote.

Pamatz wrote she was able to open the door and yell so someone could hear her but said she eventually blacked out.

Acosta was arrested the next day on charges of assault and coercion, according to Salem police records.

Acosta's family and Pamatz's family declined to be interviewed for this story.

Acosta pleaded guilty to assaulting Pamatz in August. He was sentenced by Judge Vance Day to 18 months of probation and ordered to have no contact with Pamatz.

As part of his probation, Acosta was required to complete a Batterer Intervention Program, not use alcohol or drugs, avoid contact with Pamatz and not possess weapons.

In her petition for a restraining order, Pamatz said Acosta owned bullets and his friends owned guns. Acosta had access to firearms, Pamataz wrote, and she feared he “is capable of hurting me and other people” with firearms.

She told some friends she felt disappointed Acosta would not have to face jail time for her assault, telling one friend she didn't want him “walking the streets.”

Just more than a month after Acosta's conviction, Pamatz was shot to death.

“She went to authorities, got a restraining order and the authorities didn't save her,” Meithof Helms said. “She cried for help and they let her down.”

Meithof Helms said she wasn't surprised when she heard the details of Pamatz's death.

“He always said he was going to kill her, and he did,” Meithof Helms said. “Once she pressed charges on him, that's exactly what happened. He killed her.”

The shooting

On Monday, September 19, Pamatz's neighbor saw something that seemed out of the ordinary for the quiet neighborhood. While sitting in her living room, Debbie Yummit could see a man lurking outside the residences.

“He was hanging around all morning,” Yummit said. “It was strange the way he was just chilling out there, hiding by my neighbor's white van.”

Yummit said the man went behind the complex several times and then reappeared to stand by the van, which is out of sight from Pamatz's front door and apartment windows.

“I noticed him again when I was getting my grandson off the bus at 1 p.m. or so and I didn't see him after that,” Yummit said.

Acosta had not initiated any recorded contact with Pamatz following his conviction, but violated his probation terms by visiting her residence that day.

At 1:45 p.m., Salem police responded to reports of shots fired. Multiple gun shots were fired inside the home. They found Pamatz dead at the scene.

Yummit said she didn't hear the gunshots, but did hear sirens as an ambulance and police approached the residence.

Salem police shared Acosta's mugshot and identifying information, including details about his silver 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer with a black hood, and identified him as a person in connection with Pamatz's shooting death.

Acosta, 23, was arrested the next day in Washington, near the Canada border.

He is held at Marion County Jail on a charge of aggravated murder with a firearm. A trial date has not been set.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

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