PALMDALE – Earlier this month, a 47-year-old man shot his young girlfriend in the head before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
Rafael Dominguez Valadez died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his east Palmdale apartment on Sept. 7, and Sylvia Cosio was rushed to the hospital clinging to life.
Sylvia passed away a week later, her family members said.
“I’m happy that she is at peace now, but I wish this didn’t happen to her,” said Sylvia’s aunt, Anne Kelley-Cosio. “She had her whole life ahead of her and it was stolen from her.”
Hoping to save other young women who might be going through similar situations, family members are speaking out about the circumstance that led to the death of the 25-year-old mother of four.
“Sylvia was a beautiful young girl who was in a lot of turmoil, and she didn’t live long enough to come out of that turmoil,” said Sylvia’s other aunt, Myrna Kelley-Cosio.
Myrna said her niece’s life had been in turmoil for several years before she met the man who took her life. She said, before Rafael, Sylvia had been in an extremely abusive relationship with her children’s father.
“He was always beating on her, he had punctured her lung, he had taken her out of her house and beaten her from head to toe naked,” Myrna said, adding that Sylvia was constantly in the hospital with injuries inflicted by the ex-boyfriend. “For the past five years I was sitting on the edge of my seat worried about Sylvia.”
She said the ex-boyfriend was jailed this year for beating on Sylvia, and Sylvia was scheduled to testify against him in a Ventura courtroom this month.
“Sylvia, of course, didn’t want to testify… she would never say it was him who beat her, even though the police knew,” Myrna said. “And then this other guy came into her life, and this one just straight took her out.”
“At first he was very good to her, but then very quickly he showed a different side to him,” Myrna said. “He was very possessive over Sylvia.”
She said, by the time family members became aware of the man’s dark side, he was flashing a gun and threatening to kill Sylvia and her family.
“He pulled a gun on my sister (Sylvia’s mother) and had her scared and frightened for her life,” Myrna said. “He was frightening her and at the same time telling her he was going to kill Sylvia.”
“This guy was running around saying he was going to shoot Sylvia for at least a week, which is amazing to me, because nobody ever said anything,” Myrna continued.
On the night of the shooting, Sylvia, Rafael and another female had been involved in an argument over an iPod, and then Sylvia and the other female locked themselves inside the room that Rafael rented in the Palmdale apartment, Myrna said. She said the man who was renting the room to Rafael, and the man’s toddler, were also at the apartment at the time.
When Rafael could not get inside his room, he became angry and began shooting into the bedroom window from outside the apartment, Myrna said.
“Everybody else made it out of the apartment except for Sylvia,” Myrna said. She said her niece ran into another room and locked the door instead.
“He shot the door down, Sylvia was in the closet hiding from him,” Myrna said.
Detectives said Rafael shot Sylvia at least twice before shooting and killing himself.
Family members rushed to Sylvia’s side as she spent the last week of her life on life support at the hospital.
“All her aunts and uncles came out from everywhere, her brothers and sisters, and her mother,” said Anne. “I could hardly believe what I was seeing because it was so horrifying.”
“Sylvia received profound bullet injuries to the head, and we were told Sylvia was not going to recover,” Myrna said. “They said it was just a matter of time before the family needed to make the decision to stop medical care.”
Sylvia passed away shortly after midnight on September 15, a day after she was scheduled to testify against the abusive boyfriend from her prior relationship, Myrna said.
“She didn’t have a chance to live a full life and know what it was like to really meet somebody who cared about her, who would protect her,” Myrna said. “She never had a chance at a decent life.”
“This should be a lesson to all young people and to everyone out there, if you’re being beat on or threatened, that is not real love,” Anne said. “You need to report it to protect yourself. You’re worth it to have a good relationship and to not be abused.”
Sylvia is being laid to rest in her grandmother’s grave in Glendale where she was raised.