A Southern California man with a history of domestic abuse has been arrested on a murder charge in the death of his ex-girlfriend.
Aaron Stevan Romo, 36, is being held without bond in the killing of 24-year-old Mirelle Mateus. Anaheim police found Mateus’ body on Friday afternoon after responding reports of suspicious circumstances at an Anaheim apartment.
Detectives “determined that Mateus was murdered” but have declined to say how they believe she was killed.
The Orange County Public Defender’s Office said the case was too new for an attorney to be assigned.
A violent past
Court records obtained by USA TODAY show Romo has a history of domestic violence allegations across three states involving several different women in recent years.
Romo was out on bail after being charged in December with two felony counts of corporal injury on a spouse and false imprisonment, along with misdemeanors. Romo had pleaded not guilty in the case.
In a separate case, a woman in a previous relationship with Romo filed a 50-page restraining order in September that detailed multiple instances of escalating abuse, including:
- Romo attacked and raped both her and her friend in April 2022
- Romo broke down her hotel room door in Las Vegas in May 2022 and beat her up
- Romo attacked her in Arizona in August 2021, putting her in the emergency room
“Aaron’s abuse towards me is escalating,” she wrote. “Aaron has threatened to kill me … and my family. His anger and violence are intensifying, and I fear that he may follow through on his threats.”
Photos included in the restraining order showed huge black and purple bruises covering the woman’s body, among other injuries.
Las Vegas court records show that Romo was also arrested on a domestic battery charge in 2022 but that the district attorney didn’t file charges.
What we know about the murder case
Police have released few details about Mateus’ killing except to say that she and Romo were previously in a romantic relationship and that Romo has assaulted other women in the past.
“Because the investigation is ongoing, detectives have declined to elaborate on evidence or to discuss possible motives,” the department said in a news release.
Mateus’ body was found in an Anaheim apartment, but police said she did not live there. The apartment is not a listed address in online records for Romo, and police declined to say who lives there.
Police did not say when Romo and Mateus dated or for how long.
A request for comment with Mateus’ family members was not immediately answered Tuesday.
Detectives believe that Romo has assaulted other women in the past and are asking them to contact police at 714-321-3669 or the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS, or www.occrimestoppers.org.
‘A heart so pure’
On a GoFundMe page to raise money for Mateus’ funeral, her sister wrote that she and her mother have “shattered hearts.”
“We’ve lost one of our most sacred precious beings in our life that God blessed us with,” Sandy Caceros wrote.
She said Mateus was a student, hard worker, and “overall a very special caring generous person with a heart so pure and full of love.”