Watia Goldston says that with the benefit of hindsight, she can’t help but wonder if she should have done more to make sure her abusive ex-boyfriend couldn’t hurt anyone else after she left him.
But the 27-year-old still feared him when she broke it off last year, and his new girlfriend, Elaine Jimenez, was older and seemed like she could take care of herself.
Raul “Omar” Quinones, 29, stabbed 37-year-old Jimenez to death in front of her Camden home March 25 after also stabbing her 20-year-old son, who survived, authorities allege. He has been charged with murder and is being held in the Camden County Jail.
Goldston was shocked to read the news, but she said it also confirmed something she’d always believed: that he was capable of violence even more brutal than the blows, hair-pulls and bites he inflicted on her.
“I always told my sister, ‘If I end up dead, Omar did it,'” Goldston said. “To this day I still have flashbacks.”
No violent charges
Until authorities charged Quinones with murder on March 25, he’d never been charged with a violent crime. That doesn’t mean police were unfamiliar with him; he had been convicted on a weapons charge for carrying an air gun and police had responded to numerous noise complaints at his home.
Officers also helped Goldston safely collect her clothes from Quinones’ home in October of 2016, when she said she decided to move out because she was done being beat up. The pair kept up a casual relationship after that, but she purposely never told him where she lived, she said.
So how does someone who has allegedly beaten multiple women not have any violent incidents on his record?
Mary Pettrow, associate director of Providence House Domestic Violence Services of Catholic Charities, said there are many barriers that cause women not to report domestic violence. Most come from a place of fear.
Many worry that if they report what’s happening to family, friends, social service agencies or the police, the violence could get worse, Pettrow said.
It can be hard for a woman in an abusive relationship to leave, especially if they love the abuser and their self-esteem has been under attack. “Sometimes, they’re financially dependent and the barrier is actually their inability to move” or support themselves, she said.
“Because of these reasons, someone who is abusive can be abusive to multiple people with no arrests,” she said. That also means the abuser doesn’t get the counseling or rehabilitation that might stop the cycle.
“There’s no intervention, so they can just continue that behavior until something happens to interrupt it,” Pettrow said.
‘I’d probably be dead’
Sitting at a picnic table next to the gas station where she worked at the end of March, Goldston described how she first got together with Quinones, who is known around the city because he races motorcycles.
Another ex of Quinones warned her about him, she said. “She said he’s a woman-beater and I never listened to her. I stayed around,” she said.
The first real assault, she said, took place at one of his motorcycle races not long after, in front of several other people. “He was ripping my hair off and beating me up,” she said.
She said she didn’t know what to do then, but it’s obvious now: “That’s when I should have left him, right there.”
He was jealous, snooping on her phone and smacking her if he felt someone was flirting with her online, she said.
“He’d hit me over if someone just liked my picture” on social media, she said. “Once he was mad he didn’t care what he did.”
She was living with him and his family, and she said sometimes they would intervene to protect her. A man at the family’s home in Camden declined to speak with a reporter Friday.
Goldston said he bit her hand, drawing blood, after they had been at a wedding in 2016. She said she wasn’t even sure what he was mad about. “He took my phone and said, ‘You remember this?’ and he just started hitting me and he took a chunk out of me,” she said.
When she finally did make real plans to leave, she called a girlfriend to stay with and arranged for the police to meet her at work and take her to the house so she could safely get her things. She believed that she needed officers there “or he’d kill me” for leaving.
“If I went home that night, I’d probably be dead,” she said.
She said she was not trying to have him arrested, but she did tell the officers who escorted her that he’d been beating her. Police noted it in a report but wrote that she did not have any injuries; Quinones was not charged.
They kept up a casual sexual relationship after that, she said, but she mostly kept her distance. Even after she stopped seeing him completely, she still didn’t think seriously about filing charges, she said.
A mother and son attacked
Jimenez was a mother of two who lived in the city’s Cramer Hill neighborhood and loved to ride motorcycles and dirt bikes. Quinones, who also has two children, worked on her motorcycle before they started dating, Goldston said. They dated for about a year.
Police reports about the day Jimenez was killed indicate she was afraid to let him in her house to get his stuff, but she relented after talking with him through a second-floor window.
When he entered the house, he immediately stabbed her with a pocket knife, witnesses told police. She fled the house, at which point Quinones called her older son downstairs and stabbed him repeatedly, authorities said.
Then, he followed Jimenez into the street and stabbed her 22 times, authorities said.
He broke down the door of the house and entered again, speaking to the 20-year-old he had stabbed, then fled on a motorcycle, according to prosecutors.
At his arraignment March 29, Assistant Prosecutor Peter Crawford said Quinones waived his Miranda rights when he was arrested and confessed to the killing.
Goldston said it looks to her like her old boyfriend will be sent to prison for a long time. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
“I’ve been waiting for this, for justice for this man,” she said.
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