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Vigil held for mom, daughter stabbed to death on West Side

Vanessa Jaramillo cries during a candlelight vigil Sunday evening at Pat Hurley Park for her aunt Deborah Martinez and cousin Irisa Montaño, who were killed in their West Side apartment. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the days following her mother and sister’s stabbing deaths, Brittani Angel has been desperate for answers.

Police say her cousin, Dustin Brian Montaño, 31, killed them before fleeing to Colorado where he was fatally shot by deputies just a few hours after police found the women dead.

“I mean no one saw this coming,” Angel, 26, said. “My mom was like a mother to him, and my sister was like his sister. Those were his words.”

Around 40 people attended a candlelight vigil at Pat Hurley Park near Atrisco and Central on Sunday to remember Deborah Martinez, 53, and Irisa Montaño, 17.

The two were found dead early Thursday in the West Side apartment where Dustin had also been living for the past two months.

“I’ve been trying to get answers. I can’t,” Angel said. “I’m trying to put pieces together to understand everything, but I can’t make sense of it. I don’t understand why. I don’t understand how. I don’t understand. I don’t get it.”

Police told reporters early on that they weren’t able to answer questions about a possible motive, because they weren’t able to interview Dustin.

But Angel is holding out hope that the detective on the case may be able to offer some explanation after her investigation is complete.

“She said she will have answers for me,” Angel said. “I just want to know more. I’m trying to piece it together. I know I shouldn’t be, but I just need to understand. I probably won’t get that answer, but I just need something, even if it’s very small.”

Judy Montaño holds pictures of her sister Deborah Martinez and niece Irisa Moñtano before a candlelight vigil in honor of the two Sunday evening at Pat Hurley Park. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

At age 19, Dustin was convicted of manslaughter in Austin after stabbing a man to death during a fight, but Angel said she had no idea about his violent past.

In the mean time, Angel said she is surrounding herself with family. And she said that the gathering on Sunday left her feeling supported.

“It makes me feel better just to know that people are keeping their spirit alive,” she said.

Martinez was a disabled Army veteran who served in Desert Storm.

Irisa graduated from Health Leadership High School and was planning to start nursing school at Central New Mexico Community College in the fall. She’d been working at Sonic to save up for college.

Services will take place this week in Las Vegas, N.M.

Deborah Martinez, 53, and her daughter Irisa Montaño, 17, in a photo from 2013. (Courtesy of Destiny Baez)