SPOKANE, Wash. - Edna Patricia Hernandez, or Patty, was known for her kind heart and cheerful smile
"She was probably the kindest, most genuine, loving, caring person I have ever known," Julie Matthews said. "She had a smile that would light up the room."
News of the 47-year-old's death came as a shock to friends, family, and coworkers at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
"None of us had any indication that there was something wrong happening in her life," Matthews said.
Joseph Scheel, 28, was charged with first-degree murder on Thursday after authorities found his girlfriend stabbed to death in her apartment.
Only now have some friends learned about her calls for help before her death.
Court documents showed that she called 911 recently to report her boyfriend grabbed her neck. She also had told some people that she was thrown from a vehicle.
Spokane YWCA Clinical Therapist Melva Buyers said it can be hard to escape an abusive partner's power and control.
"Sometimes when you're in it, it's hard to see from a bird's eye view what's really going on," Buyers said.
That's why it is critical that people ask the hard questions of their loved ones. If someone's personality or actions drastically change, that is a warning sign. The person may also have mysterious injuries or are extremely worried about how their partner may react to certain situations.
"The best thing you can do as a friend is to always maintain lines of communication. Let her know you're concerned and believer her when she says she's ready to tell you something has happened," Buyers said.
It may be too late to help Hernandez, but it's not too late to be there for other domestic violence survivors. That's the hard lesson Matthews said she's learned.
"Hopefully I can be that person the next time," Matthews said. "We can all be that person the next time."
Help for survivors of domestic violence
• National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-7233
• YWCA Spokane - 509-326-2255
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