‘She just was so vibrant’: Moses Lake family shares story of daughter’s murder as suspect pleads not guilty

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — A Moses Lake family is left in pieces after the death of their daughter.

The body of 30-year-old woman Yanira Cedillos was found in Walla Walla County a month ago, about two-and-a-half hours away from home. The accused murderer, Juan Gastelum, pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and murder.

As Gastelum still waits in jail, Cedillos’ family has a plea for others as the suspect goes through court.

RELATED: Body of missing Moses Lake woman found

Dania Heredia, Yanira’s sister, says she was a vibrant and lively individual with a big smile that lit up any room.

“If you met her once, that was enough to impact your life,” Heredia said.

Cedillos went missing in early March, and knowing that her and Gastelum shared a relationship, the family wonders if they could do more.

“There’s so much ‘what-ifs,'” Heredia said. “Like, could we had done something different? Could she had done something different?”

Cedillos’ three children are being raised by their grandmother, Cedillos’ mom Ana Illescas. She says she’s been trying to stay strong for her three grandchildren.

“My other granddaughter two nights ago was praying for me and she asked God to make me happy,” Illescas said getting emotional. “She goes, ‘my grandma is always sad, please, God, make her happy.'”

It took more than two months to find Cedillos’ body, and the family held out hope during the search.

“Them finding her and everything made it more real that she was really gone,” Lisanna Diaz, another one of Yanira’s sister, said.

Two weeks after her body was found, she was taken back to her home in Moses Lake. But the family feels they still didn’t get closure from her death.

Cedillos never got a proper goodbye from her family; they never got to see her body before funeral services.

As the family waits for Gastelum to appear in court in July, they continue to have questions for him.

“My first question I would ask him if I have him face to face is, ‘why did you do that to my daughter?’ ‘Why didn’t you respect her decisions as a human being,'” her mom said.

Cedillos’ family wants other women to know that there is help out there if you’re stuck in a domestic violence situation.

“That’s why I’m here,” Illescas said. “I didn’t want to come because I thought I’m not going to be able to speak. I need a raise up my voice as a mom for her and for all other women that have [been] through the same situation.”

“I don’t care how much I hate him. I hope the women in his life stay safe and can be with men that accept no and to teach their children boundaries,” Heredia added.

If you’re a victim, here are some resources you can turn to:

  • Lutheran Community Services Northwest: 509-624-7273.
  • Kalispel Tribe Victim Assistance Services: 1-877-700-7175. They help survivors regardless if they are tribal members or not.
  • YWCA: Call 509-326-2255 or text them at 509-220-3725.
  • Spokane Tribe: 509-608-3424. They offer services to members of the Spokane Tribe on and off the reservation.
  • Mujeres in Action:  509-869-0876.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
  • The National Helpline for Sexual Assault:  1-800-656-4673.
  • Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition: They can be reached on their website here.
  • Safe Passage: 208-664-9303

RELATED: Moses Lake Police: Man accused of killing woman, hiding her body arrested in Oregon

READ: Accused murderer of Moses Lake woman back in Grant County