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Leah Suarez was 25-year-old Amanda Suarez's mother-in-law. She's doing her best to keep life as normal as she can for her grandchildren, while shielding them from what happened to their mother.
"It's sadness, just overwhelming sadness," said Leah.
Suarez's heart is breaking. Her four young grandchildren are now without their mom.
"That's what I'm going to miss, she fiercely loved them and now they're going to suffer the same way I did when I lost my mom," said Suarez.
What's more difficult to handle is that one of Amanda's boys discovered her body. "The 9-year-old arrived off the school bus unaware that anything was wrong and walked in and found his mom dead," said Suarez.
The accused killer is 21-year-old Christopher Shows. "I've taken to referring to him as a monster because you can't say he was an animal," said Suarez. "Animals don't do that."
Investigators say Shows chased Amanda through her home, then shot her in the head and raped her. Amanda knew her killer. Shows was at one time engaged to her cousin.
"There's only just evil that causes someone to plot and plan the way that he did to walk in and slaughter a mother in front of her children," said Suarez.
Amanda's son and her four grandchildren are now living with Suarez. "That's my biggest thing is making sure we protect these children," said Suarez.
From an uncertain world that has been altered forever. "This is small town America and if it can happen here it's just very scary," said Suarez. "We have never ever locked our front door ever. We have to dig for the house key. Now everything is locked and that's sad."
Amanda Suarez is remembered for being a devoted mother. Her children were her world.
Suarez says Amanda's dream was to finish high school and get her GED. Amanda achieved that. She was the first in her family to get a high school diploma.
Suarez says her priority is helping her son raise the children and to find them a new home.
To help, send donations to:
Elite Office Services of Okeechobee, 1210 SW 2nd Street, Okeechobee, FL 34974. Call (863) 467-5900 for more information. Make checks payable to Elite Office Services
The family has also set up a GoFundMe Page.
Scripps Only Content 2016