PHOENIX — A man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the violent murder of his wife and their unborn child in 2012, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced.
County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced that 36-year-old Gilbert Villareal received his sentence earlier this month after pleading guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Villareal also received five lifetime injunctions, which means he cannot contact the victim's family, including his own son.
Just after midnight on March 26, 2012, Phoenix police say residents at an apartment complex near 32nd Avenue and Beardsley Road heard a woman scream and bang on doors for help. Later, a pregnant 22-year-old Shelia Lomes was found dead in a stairwell after being stabbed 38 times, according to MCAO.
Her 2-year-old son was found uninjured wandering through the apartment complex crying for his mother.
Near Lomes’ body, Phoenix police officers found the knife used in the murder and their investigation quickly turned to her estranged husband, Villarreal, who fled to Tijuana, Mexico.
Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. Marshals say they went to Hermosillo and Cancun, Mexico to try and locate Villarreal.
In December 2016, he was arrested by Mexican police for attempted homicide in Cancun after he stabbed a woman in her neck. He was convicted and held in jail until being released in December 2019.
He was then held in custody until he was extradited to Phoenix and booked into Maricopa County Jail in late September of 2021.
“Finding a way to bring this defendant back to the U.S. to face his crimes was a particularly challenging process. Our lawyers and support staff were relentless in their efforts to ensure he was located and returned here,” said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. She added, “Remember, a two-year-old child witnessed this awful crime. I hope that one day, when he is old enough to understand, he will recognize there were dozens of people on his side, fighting for justice.”