Rachel Ream’s family members grew worried when they didn’t hear from the Colorado mother of four on New Year’s Day.
Their worry turned to horror when they learned that the 47-year-old had allegedly been killed at her Ignacio home by her husband, Damon Lamont Mathews, 44, who’d just been let out of jail after being charged with domestic violence in November, The Durango Herald reports.
On Friday, Mathews was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder after fleeing the scene and crashing his car in Jefferson County, in the Denver metro area, more than 300 miles from Ignacio, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation says in a release.
He is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond in the Jefferson County Detention Facility, according to online jail records. He will be transferred to the La Plata County Jail, the CBI says in a release.
He has not yet entered a plea. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can comment on his behalf.
Ream leaves behind four children, ages 12, 20, and 25, and a stepson who is blind and disabled in his 30s, The Herald reports.
Mathews had been arrested twice before for alleged domestic violence against his wife, court records show, The Herald reports.
He was last arrested on Nov. 24 and charged with third-degree assault and domestic violence against Ream, court records show.
In court documents obtained by The Herald, at the time of his arrest, an officer wrote, “Rachel stated she was in fear of Damon, and was afraid of what he may do if she reported the incident to law enforcement.”
Court records also reveal that Mathews had been convicted four times since 2003 for domestic violence-related crimes, according to The Herald.
“I always knew he’d never be stopped until he murdered a woman,” Mathews’ ex-wife, April Shawl, told The Herald. “It’s haunted me.”
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Mathews was released on a $1500 bond for the Nov. 24 incident and moved back to Ream’s home, where he lived in a small house on the property, an arrest affidavit obtained by The Herald shows.
On Dec. 21, a judge had granted a motion by the District Attorney to upgrade Mathews' charges from misdemeanor to felony as a habitual domestic violence offender, The Herald reports.
But the judge did not increase Mathews' bail.
On New Year’s Eve, they began arguing, Mathews allegedly told authorities, according to the affidavit.
“Damon said he knew if the police came, he would go to jail again because of the protection order and because he was on bond for the previous domestic violence with Rachel,” an officer wrote, The Herald reports.
After allegedly trying to strangle Ream, Mathews told authorities he shot Ream in the head before fleeing in her car, the affidavit alleges
While in the Denver metro area, "Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a traffic accident call in the 5000 block of S. Kipling St., in which Mathews was involved, and was subsequently placed into custody on New Year’s Day," the CBI says in the release.
“It’s still a shock to everyone,” her son, Issiah Harrison told The Herald. “She didn’t deserve this.”
On a GoFundMe page set up to help defray the funeral costs for Ream, one of her best friends wrote, "She was a single mom, the sweetest woman in the world. She cared for her own kids, her blind, disabled stepson, and her sister's son as her own."
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