ATLANTA — On Tuesday, the Hall County Sheriff's Office identified the murder victim, who was found in a wooded area near Flowery Branch last month as Sarai Llanos Gomez. Her killer still remains a mystery.
She was a 19-year-old mother of two children, who moved to the United States from Ecuador for a better life, and to send money back home, her family said. Her children are being cared for by Sarai's mother, Gardenia Gomez.
"I need help now for her two children who are now orphans... one is three years old, the other is a year and a half. I don't even have a house myself," she told 11Alive in Spanish. The interview has since been translated to English.
Gomez last heard from her daughter on June 14th and notified the Ecuadorian Consulate in Atlanta.
On June 20th, the Hall County Sheriff's Office said a decomposing body was found in a wooded area near Flowery Branch.
Then on Monday, July 25 - more than one month after the body was found - Luis Veintimilla with the Ecuadorian Consulate in Atlanta had to deliver the tough news to Gomez: her daughter, Sarai, had been identified as the victim.
“The last thing we know is she was staying in a hotel in Buckhead and that it seems to be a crime," he said in a Spanish interview with 11Alive, that has since been translated to English.
Veintimilla explains Sarai moved to the U.S. last year: first to Chicago, then to Atlanta where she was offered a waitressing job at a Buckhead hotel.
"From the little information we have, we know she was living alone. She didn't have many friends here but she did in Chicago. She had moved here to make more money as a waitress," he said.
But the job wasn’t what she had signed up for. Gomez said that, instead, it was to become a sex worker. One day before the disappearance, Sarai told her mother she tried turning it down.
"Unfortunately, this is such a painful event for the family and for us, and now it's a waiting game until we get more details," Veintimilla added.
Now, Sarai's mother is trying to get her back home to Ecuador.
“They want to send her body back to me in ashes," Gomez said. "I want her body. How else will I know it's really her?”
She's been in communication with Veintimilla's office to try and make this happen, but he explains there's still a process they have to follow.
"On one side, while authorities continue with the investigation, we are in communication with them to see when they can hand over the body for us to expatriate the body. We also have to interview the family and do a socioeconomic study on top of all the other procedures we have to go through," he explained.
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says they are still looking for the man in the sketch below as a person of interest tied to this case.
The spokesperson tells 11Alive that he has not yet been identified by name and that the investigation is still ongoing and active.